Study: Higher Rates Of Gun Ownership Associated With Higher Rates Of Domestic Homicide

Originally published on August 13, 2019 11:16 am

Higher rates of gun ownership are associated with higher rates of gun deaths involving an intimate partner or family member, according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“There has been a fairly sizeable body of research showing that increased rates of gun ownership are associated with increased firearm mortality,” said Aaron Kivisto, a professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Indianapolis and an author of the paper. “What our study set out to do that was relatively novel was to drill down a bit and look at who is baring the burden of that increased risk.”

Victims of what is known as domestic homicide, mostly women, are at higher risk in places with higher concentrations of guns, the research says. The study outlines particularly high levels of domestic homicide and gun ownership in southeastern states.

Kivisto says these findings did not surprise his team; research has consistently confirmed that guns are linked to heightened danger for women.

The data that did surprise him was the lack of association found between firearm ownership and other types of homicide, among acquaintances or co-workers, for example.

“When the domestic disputes occur, the firearms are likely close by,” Kivisto explained. “If you have a dispute outside of the home, the odds of the gun simply being as close to you as they would be in a domestic situation seem to just be decreased.”

Homicide rates have been on the decline for decades nation-wide. However, the rate of Americans killing their intimate partners has seen “a sharp increase” in recent years, according to a study by two Northeastern University criminologists, after years of decline. Data shows that uptick is exclusively due to gun-related murders.

Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.


Copyright 2019 Guns and America. To see more, visit Guns and America.