Knowledge is power. The best interventions are informed by rigorous and reliable research, as well as a clear understanding of the legal context in which these interventions may occur. Criminal and civil legal systems can partner with researchers to gather critical data on local, state, tribal, and federal enforcement of existing laws; identify needs and gaps in enforcement; and improve their systems’ effectiveness in responding to firearms and domestic violence. Criminal and civil legal system and researcher partnerships can identify whether existing purchase and possession prohibitions effectively keep firearms out of the hands of batterers, make recommendations for changes in state and federal legislation, and recommend funding priorities for the most promising interventions. Criminal and civil legal system practitioners, community based domestic violence organizations and researchers can seek funding to support joint efforts, including research and evaluation grants and demonstration initiatives, with special attention to collaborative approaches. These partnership groups should report back to their communities about what they learn and seek changes in system responses based on the most promising practices.

The Safer Families, Safer Communities Project has developed a number of resources for community members regarding the current state of knowledge on firearm-involved domestic violence as well as the legal authority for intervention in these situations. Additional resources and information are available by contacting the project directly.

The Current State of Knowledge Related to Firearms and Domestic Violence

The crimes of domestic and dating violence and stalking are pervasive in our society. When a violent intimate partner has access to a firearm, a dangerous situation becomes a potentially fatal situation. More women are killed by their intimate partners than by any other offender group, and firearms are the weapon most often used in intimate partner homicide. Please see the attached summaries of the current state of research on firearms and domestic violence by Dr. April Zeoli.

Summaries of Statutes and Case Law Related to Firearms and Domestic Violence

The legal landscape surrounding firearm prohibitions in domestic violence cases is both confusing and dynamic. The attached legal summaries provide the casual reader with a baseline understanding of the statutes and case law relevant to this issue, as well as brief analyses of strengths and gaps in the current legal environment.

These 2016 summaries are not substitutes for specific state or Tribal law research, but are intended to provide general information. Please check the statutes of the state or Tribe for the most reliable and current language.

For additional legal resources, please see BWJP’s online Resource Center at http://www.bwjp.org/resource-center.html

Tools for Advocates

The Safer Families, Safer Communities project offers resources for advocates who work with survivors of firearm-involved domestic violence.

See the Community Strategies in Action

Lexington, Kentucky

A Kentucky Community Races to Provide Safety.

Lexington, Kentucky is a community that understands that time is often critical in keeping domestic violence victims safe. Two initiatives launched by the Fayette County Sheriff and Fayette County…

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Baltimore, Maryland

Specialized Unit Enhances Service or Orders and Confiscation of Firearms

In 2009, Maryland enacted a law requiring a judge to order firearms confiscated from people who have final protective orders filed against them.

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