If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination. More than half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by an intimate partner with a gun, and the chance of being murdered by an abusive partner increases five-fold when there is a gun in the home. Even when a weapon is not discharged, abusers often use the mere presence of a gun to coerce, threaten and terrorize their victims, inflicting enormous psychological damage.

Despite the clear risk domestic violence presents, state and federal laws still make it far too easy for abusers to obtain firearms. While federal law prohibits purchase and possession of firearms by those subject to domestic violence restraining orders, it does not prohibit purchase or possession by those subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders. Many — but not all — states have closed this gap by prohibiting individuals who are subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders from purchasing or possessing firearms. And some states do not prohibit firearm purchase or possession for any domestic violence restraining orders.

Additionally, federal law does not currently outline a process for abusers to surrender guns they already own. Instead, states establish their own surrender processes. Not all states have mandated surrender of firearms, leaving numerous opportunities for abusers to keep their guns.

And while firearms can be removed from abusive husbands in some states, they often cannot be removed from an abusive boyfriend unless the victim has children with or has cohabitated with the abuser. This gap in legal protection — which also applies to the purchase and possession of firearms — is colloquially known as “the boyfriend loophole.”

CSGV is committed to preventing both fatal and non-fatal intimate partner violence committed with firearms. For years, we have been working to strengthen domestic violence laws at both the state and federal level, close loopholes that allow domestic abusers to keep their firearms, and help local stakeholders implement existing laws.  

In 2018, our public health think tank, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence partnered with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility to launch Disarm Domestic Violence.



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