Domestic Violence and Gun Rights

Gun rights advocates are challenging the legal protections granted to victims of domestic violence. Women who have been physically abused and threatened often seek protective orders (restraining orders) from city and county courts. In some states, those restraining orders may involve the abuser surrendering firearms.

In a series of cases, the National Rifle Association is now challenging judicial orders stripping gun rights from domestic abusers. Gun advocates are also lobbying to prevent the passage of tougher laws in states that do not currently require abusers to surrender their firearms.


The New York Times reports: “Intimate partner homicides account for nearly half the women killed every year, according to federal statistics. More than half of these women are killed with a firearm. And a significant percentage were likely to have obtained protection orders against their eventual killers.”

A study of murders and attempted murders of women in 10 U.S. cities published in Criminal Justice Review found that approximately 20 percent of the women had requested protective orders shortly before being attacked.

Advocates for abused women argue that judges should be able to order domestic abusers to temporarily surrender their firearms as part of protective orders, at least during a “cooling off” period during the implementation of the protective order and, if relevant, during divorce proceedings.

According to the New York Times, “in the mid-1990s, Wisconsin became one of the first states to require the surrender of firearms with full protective orders.” But, the National Rifle Association has since lobbied—often successfully—to prevent other states from adopting such legislation.

See the New York Times for the full story. Scholars and students researching gender and violence issues will want to consider the findings of the studies cited in the article.

This entry was posted in Arms Control, History of Violence, Human Rights, Women and Gender History. Bookmark the permalink.

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