Certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable to being harmed by firearms, and available data suggests this is especially true for women. Statistics suggest that guns even tangentially in their lives can be a significant predictor of whether or not a woman is likely to be hurt, killed, or threatened with a firearm. And that's only the beginning.
A litany of studies, surveys, and anecdotal evidence from the last two decades points to the fact that women, specifically, are more likely to be harmed when they live in a home where a gun is present. The same appears to be especially true if their partners own guns, or if they live in a state with a higher rate of gun ownership. And much of the data suggests that women who are already in danger of being physically harmed — like if they are in an abusive relationship, for example — are that much more at risk when that person owns a gun.
Although the correlation is not entirely surprising, the available numbers offer a sobering image of the disparate way living in the vicinity of a gun affects men versus women. And above all else, the numbers indicate that when it comes to enacting gun control, understanding how firearms specifically affect women's livelihoods will be essential to getting it right.
Most Intimate Partner Violence Shooting Victims Are Women
Eighty percent of people fatally shot by intimate partners between 2006 and 2014 were women, according to federal and state-level crime data examined by the Associated Press. Based on those figures, The Trace, a nonprofit that reports on gun news, estimates that an American woman is fatally shot by a romantic partner every 16 hours.
Abused Women Are 5 Times More Likely To Be Killed By Guns
That women are particularly at risk when people in their lives own guns is not a new revelation. A 2003 study entitled "Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships" and published in the American Journal of Public Health found that women in abusive relationships are five times as likely to be killed by their abusers if that person owns a gun.
Guns Especially Impact Women In Physically Abusive Relationships
In 2004, a survey of 417 women in domestic violence shelters, University of Pennsylvania researchers found that 71.4 percent of respondents had guns used against them, "usually threatening to shoot/kill her," according to the authors. A little more than 5 percent reported being actually shot at.
The Majority Of Those Perpetrators Are Current Or Former Partners
In that same analysis, the AP found that more than half of the women who were killed were shot by their current or former husbands, coming out to about 3,100 victims. Nearly 2,000 other women were killed by their boyfriends.
Black Women Are Far More Vulnerable To Gun Violence
In a 2016 report based on data from 2014, the Violence Policy Center found that black women were murdered by lone killers twice as often as white women. In situations where the murder weapon was identified, researchers found that 57 percent of black women victims were fatally shot with guns. The report relied on FBI crime data, according to The Trace.
Gun Violence Affects Millions Of Women
In a study published in 2016 in the journal Trauma, Violence & Abuse, two University of Pennsylvania researchers found that millions of U.S. women alive today have had an intimate partner wield a gun against them. The study found that roughly 1 million U.S. women alive today have been shot at by an intimate partner. In turn, almost a whopping 4.5 million women have had an intimate partner threaten them with a firearm.
The complicated nature of gun violence makes it challenging to combat, but data can help you make some sense of it. Although the image appears bleak, it's important to understand exactly what the battle will look like. And when it comes to gun violence, what the figures suggest is clear: Women's lives and experiences must be given unique attention.