While everyone is at a greater risk of dying by homicide if they have access to a gun, the connection is stronger for women. In a survey of battered women, 71.4 percent of respondents reported that guns had been used against them, usually to threaten to kill them. A study comparing abused women who survived with those killed by their abuser found that 51 percent of women who were killed had a gun in the house. By contrast, only 16 percent of women who survived lived in homes with guns.
Jacquelyn Campbell, a Johns Hopkins professor responsible for much of what we know about guns and domestic violence (and domestic violence in general), developed a set of screening questions to ask abused women to determine who’s at the most risk of being killed by their abuser. Among the questions in the screen, which has been adopted by Maryland police and appears to be working, are a couple about the abuser’s access to guns, emphasizing that gun access is a risk factor for homicide in abusive relationships.
For more, read this piece by CityLab’s Evan DeFilippis explaining the evidence on guns and domestic violence.