The Association of Federal and State-level Firearm Restriction Policies With Intimate Partner Homicide: A Re-analysis by Race of the Victim

Wallin, M. A., Holliday, C. N., & Zeoli, A. M.


Firearms present a significant risk of intimate partner homicide (IPH) among women in the United States, and Black women continue to be overrepresented among IPH fatalities. State-level firearm restrictions for individuals under domestic violence restraining orders (DVRO) and firearm restrictions for those convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes are associated with reductions in IPH. To receive these protections, individuals must engage with the civil or criminal justice system. While access to, and engagement with, these systems may differ between Black and White populations, research has yet to examine the impact of these firearm restriction laws on IPH by racial group.We conducted pooled, cross-sectional, time-series analyses to examine the association of selected firearm restriction laws on IPH by the race of the victims, from 1981 to 2013 for 45 states in the United States.State-level DVRO firearm restrictions were associated with reductions in IPH in the White population only. The inclusion of relinquishment provisions in state DVRO firearm laws is associated with an 11% reduction in IPH and a 16% reduction in firearm IPH for White, but not Black, victims. Similarly, laws prohibiting individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors from possessing firearms are associated with a 23% reduction in IPH and a 28% reduction in firearm IPH for White victims only. The federal DVRO firearm restriction law is associated with a 27% reduction in state-level IPH and a 28% reduction in firearm IPH for Black, but not White, victims.Firearm restriction laws may have a limited impact on IPH in Black populations. Future research should examine the factors behind the differential estimated impact of these laws by the race of the victims.

Keywords: criminology; domestic violence; domestic violence and cultural contexts; homicide; legal intervention.