2021-2024, Active

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Firearm Restrictions: Do They Improve Restraining Order Petitioner Safety?

Affiliated Project

The overarching goal of this project is to provide evidence-based solutions to improve the safety of survivors of intimate partner firearm violence. Results will be widely disseminated to key community stakeholders, practitioners, and through a final report, peer reviewed journals, and national scholarly conferences. Additionally, the datasets will be archived.



Roughly 33,000 individuals are subjected to nonfatal firearm-involved intimate partner violence (IPV) annually in the U.S. One strategy to reduce firearm use in IPV is to prohibit individuals who are under domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) from accessing firearms. While there is solid evidence of an ecological-level correlation between state laws allowing firearm restrictions on DVROs and decreased intimate partner homicide rates, no one has examined whether there is an individual-level relationship between DVRO firearm restrictions and future nonfatal IPV. Using three states (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) with DVRO firearm restriction laws that differ in regards to whether they are mandatory or discretionary and whether firearm relinquishment is required for those newly prohibited, we will investigate this relationship. From each state, we will recruit 100 DVRO petitioners whose abusers have used or have access to firearms (for a total of 300 petitioners), surveying them at the time they petition and six months later. The surveys address IPV history, experiences with firearm-related DVRO processes, implementation of firearm restrictions, and subsequent victimization. We expect to have multiple groups of petitioners who vary on the following factors: whether they are granted a DVRO, whether the DVRO includes firearm restrictions, and whether restrictions are followed by relinquishment.

The data we obtain from the DVRO petitioner surveys will allow us to fulfill the following aims:

  • Identify whether DVRO firearm restrictions are protective against future firearm violence;
  • Examine the implementation of DVRO firearm restrictions, including factors related to whether they are ordered and whether those who possess firearms are required to relinquish them;
  • Determine survivors’ experiences with justice system responses to IPV firearm uses and threats; and
  • Investigate the nature and consequences of firearm access in IPV, including defensive firearm uses by IPV victims.

Project Team

April M. Zeoli, PhD, MPH
Chiara Cooper, PhD, Co-Investigator
Gabriela López Zerón, PhD, Co-Investigator


The Joyce Foundation


Michigan State University