The role of firearms in intimate partner violence: policy and research considerations


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major threat to women’s safety and well-being worldwide. Firearms heighten this threat by increasing the morbidity and mortality of IPV. This paper focuses on the United States, a nation with high rates of IPV alongside high rates of gun ownership. The United States has implemented several policy approaches to reduce the harmful role that firearms play in IPV by limiting access to firearms for IPV offenders. One such law prohibits persons under Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs) from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition. Although DVRO firearm prohibitions can reduce the risk of firearm-related injury and homicide associated with IPV, implementation and enforcement of these laws at regional and local levels is challenging and variable. We discuss implications for DVRO research, policy, and practice as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent and reduce firearm-related IPV.

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Fig. 1

Adapted from: Rinfret SR, Scheberle D, Pautz MC. Public Policy: A Concise Introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press; 2019

Fig. 2

Data Source: Giffords law center to prevent gun violence. Domestic violence & firearms.

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Correspondence to Deborah Glik.

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Goodyear, A., Rodriguez, M. & Glik, D. The role of firearms in intimate partner violence: policy and research considerations. J Public Health Pol 41, 185–195 (2020).

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  • Firearms
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Homicide
  • Policy