Monday, June 18, 2012

Firearms deadly to women in domestic violence

Arizona is famous for its loose gun laws and old-west cowboy culture and it still harbors some of the worst gun violence in the country.  Unfortunately this also includes domestic violence cases, the most recent of which starred former racist and neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, who gunned down 4 members of his family including an infant in Chandler, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix.  He then took his own life. 

Already in Arizona in 2012, 48 have died, 31 or 64.4% of those by guns. 

These numbers are compiled by the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence who proclaims that there are obvious signs that precede these cases, as reported by USA Today below:

  • your partner controls everything.
  • your partner calls you names or yells at you.
  • your partner shoves, pinches, hits, punches, kicks or otherwise hurts you.
  • your partner destroys your belongings.
  • your partner threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets."

“Domestic-violence deaths are counted when a partner or other person in the home kills or is killed. An abuser committing a murder-suicide would be considered two deaths; a death is also counted if an abuser is shot during a confrontation with law enforcement,” says AZCADV.  Further, Battered women who have been threatened or assaulted with a gun — even once — are 20 times as likely than other battered women to be murdered.”  The signs tell the tale.

Nationally, a recent study shows that access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than 5 times compared to those instances where there are no weapons in the house.  Also, those abusers who own guns are more likely to inflict the most severe injuries on their partners.  And nearly two-thirds of all women killed by firearms were killed by an intimate partner. 

Firearms are the most frequently used weapon in intimate partner homicide, more than all other weapons combined.

These are heavy figures, especially when you stop to consider that in 1994 the Gun Control Act was amended to prohibit anyone subject to a domestic violence protective order from possessing a firearm.  In 1996, the Lautenberg Amendment was added prohibiting anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing a firearm.  Fatal incidents do have a pattern, says Carl Mangold, a licensed social worker commenting in the following:

A man becomes violent, and blames the victim. She tries to resist, and his abuse escalates. She attempts to end the relationship, and he punishes her for her defiance.

Neil Websdale, a Northern Arizona U. criminology and criminal-justice professor refers to the above warning signs while adding others such as being over-possessive of the partner and drinking heavily.  Websdale says, "It's about manhood and failing to live up to prescriptions of modern-day masculinity."  This mirrors my contention that gun bubbas have the hots for the concealed carry law because it requires having a weapon at their side to make them feel like a man.

Connie Phillips, director of the Phoenix Sojourner Center, a domestic-violence shelter for women, says a gun is a powerful weapon as much for its ability to intimidate as to kill.  “You don't even have to point it at her.”  He only has to clean it in front of her, put it on the bedside nightstand as she sleeps, or carry it on his hip to make a point. 

In other words, firearms are a threat to women in case of domestic violence, so why is it so easy for these people to regain their gun rights after an episode?

More on this later.


  1. In extracting the quote by our Executive Director Connie Phillips from the USA Today story (written by Karina Bland, first published in the Arizona Republic), you left out the summative sentence about an abuser's use of a gun: "It's just another way of showing 'I have power. You don't.'" The danger is not the gun in/of itself. The danger is the imbalance in power between the abusive partner and the abused. If an abuser doesn't use a gun, he will use something else. Mr. Dunning's readers are encouraged to read the story in its entirety and context at

  2. Thank you for covering this important issue; however, we want to point readers to more information firearm restrictions when someone is convicted of domestic violence. Not all misdemeanors qualify under Lautenberg, and not all orders of protection that are granted include a prohibition regarding firearms. For more information, please see and (see page 8). If you have more questions, please call our Legal Advocacy Hotline at 602-279-2900.

  3. It is a common refrain, as with "Sojourner's" comment, that if you keep criminals and abusers from having guns, they'll just just "use something else." While it's true that domestic abusers will use whatever weapons are at their disposal, it's the least we can do to keep the most deadly of weapons out of their reach. Arming them serves only to make them more dangerous. A fist, blunt object, or even a knife are far less deadly than a firearm, and easier to fight back against.



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