38% Fewer Women Are Shot to Death by Intimate Partners in States That Require Criminal Background Checks on Unlicensed Handgun Sales

In the states that require criminal background checks on unlicensed handgun sales, there are 38% fewer women killed by guns than in the states that do not have this requirement. (1)

gunsense-jan2017ai-cbates-p1830558.jpgVermont, which does not require criminal background checks on unlicensed sales, DOES have a domestic violence problem. 

  • There were more than 1,000 final relief from abuse orders issued in Vermont in 2013. (2)
  • During 2013 the 14 member programs of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence received and responded to 24,389 hotline and crisis calls. (3)
  • On a random day in 2013, 44 adults were having to seek refuge from domestic violence, as well as 43 children. (6)  

And guns play a significant role in domestic violence.


  • Firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.(8)
  • Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force. (9)
  • Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm. (10)
  • Domestic violence also plays a role in mass shootings. 57% of mass shootings (shooting in which four or more people were murdered) between January 2009 and July 2014 involved the killing of a family member or a current or former intimate partner of the shooter.(11)  

And in Vermont:

  • Between 1994 – 2014 in Vermont, 57% of domestic violence homicides & 77% of the murder/suicides were committed with guns (12)

Not All Gun-Related Domestic Violence is Fatal

Note that many of these statistics do not provide a complete picture of the impact of guns. National reports have shown that even when no gun is fired, guns are still systematically used in domestic relationships to threaten and intimidate. One survey of female domestic violence shelter residents found that more than one third (36.7%) reported having been threatened or harmed with a firearm.(14) In nearly two thirds (64.5%) of the households that contained a gun, the intimate partner had used the firearm against the victim, usually threatening to shoot or kill her.(15)

Three recent incidents reported in Vermont illustrate this grim reality:

Man charged with beating woman with a gun

Johnson man jailed after alleged domestic assault

Man accused of assaulting woman, smashing car with gun

Sources Cited

(1) "State Background Check Requirements and Rates of Domestic Violence Homicide." http://everytown.org/documents/2015/01/dv-background-checks-fact-sheet.pdf based on data obtained fromDepartment of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2011, available a thttp://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NACJD/studies/33527/version/1. Excludes New York due to incomplete data; Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Supplementary Homicide Report. 2010.

(2) State of Vermont, Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission Report, 2014

(3) ibid.

(4) ibid.

(5) National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Census of Domestic Violence Services, 2013.

(6) State of Vermont, Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission Report, 2014

(7) ibid.

(8) Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Homicide Trends in the U.S.: Intimate Homicide (July 2007), at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm.

(9) Linda E. Saltzman, et al., Weapon Involvement and Injury Outcomes in Family and Intimate Assaults, 267 JAMA, 3043-3047 (1992).

(10) Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study, 93 Am. J. Pub. Health 1089, 1092 (July 2003).

(11) Everytown for Gun Safety, Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings 3 (July 2014)

(12) Vermont Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission Report, 2015. http://www.vtnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2015-DV-Fatality-Report.pdf

(13) ibid.

(14) Susan B. Sorenson et al., Weapons in the Lives of Battered Women, 94 Am. J. Pub. Health 1412, 1413 (2004).

(15) ibid.