Examining the role of firearm involvement in repeat intimate partner violence assaults

Hans, Z., Cooper, C. E., & Zeoli, A. M.


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) remains a pervasive and complex issue with significant social and public health implications. The nexus of firearms and intimate partner violence (IPV) is an especially dangerous one. However, little is known about how firearm involvement can influence the risk of repeat IPV assaults.

Methods: We use data from 346 male perpetrated IPV incidents reported to the Detroit Police Department between December 2016 and April 2017 to examine the role of firearm involvement in IPV recidivism during a 5 and half year follow up period. Employing a conditional gap-time frailty model that accommodates heterogeneity among individuals through a frailty term, we analyze time to multiple IPV assaults that occur over the follow up period. We identify various pathways through which firearms impact the likelihood of subsequent IPV incidents, including intimidation, threats, and use of firearms, while controlling for observable perpetrator characteristics to understand the explicit roles of firearms.

Results: Firearm involvement at the index assault was not associated with IPV recidivism. However, involvement of firearms in past IPV assaults significantly increased the risk of subsequent physical IPV. The discrepancy is likely arising from a high degree of censoring among individuals who were armed with a firearm during the index assault.

Conclusion: Our research reveals a nuanced relationship between firearm involvement and IPV recidivism, shedding light on the multifaceted dynamics at play. By elucidating the intricate dynamics at the intersection of firearms and intimate partner violence, our study underscores the need for targeted policy interventions and preventative measures aimed at reducing IPV recidivism.

Keywords: Firearms; Intimate partner violence; Recidivism; Survival analysis.