Analysis of the Strength of Legal Firearms Restrictions for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence and Their Associations With Intimate Partner Homicide

Zeoli, A. M., McCourt, A., Buggs, S., Frattaroli, S., Lilley, D., & Webster, D. W. (2018). Analysis of the strength of legal firearms restrictions for perpetrators of domestic violence and their associations with intimate partner homicide. American journal of epidemiology187(11), 2365-2371. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwy174


In this research, we estimate the association of firearm restrictions for domestic violence offenders with intimate partner homicides (IPHs) on the basis of the strength of the policies. We posit that the association of firearm laws with IPHs depends on the following characteristics of the laws: 1) breadth of coverage of high-risk individuals and situations restricted; 2) power to compel firearm surrender or removal from persons prohibited from having firearms; and 3) systems of accountability that prevent those prohibited from doing so from obtaining guns. We conducted a quantitative policy evaluation using annual state-level data from 1980 through 2013 for 45 US states. Based on the results of a series of robust, negative binomial regression models with state fixed effects, domestic violence restraining order firearm-prohibition laws are associated with 10% reductions in IPH. Statistically significant protective associations were evident only when restraining order prohibitions covered dating partners (-13%) and ex parte orders (-13%) and included relinquishment provisions (-12%). Laws prohibiting access to those convicted of nonspecific violent misdemeanors were associated with a 23% reduction in IPH rates; there was no association when prohibitions were limited to domestic violence. These findings should inform policymakers considering laws to maximize protections against IPH.