Detroit Today: The impact of guns on domestic violence

According to research, adding a gun to a household impacts the chance of homicide by 500%.

Stock photo of handguns.

This week, Governor Whitmer signed legislation seeking to reduce gun violence. While recent mass shootings have reanimated the debate for increased firearm regulation, Michigan’s new laws may have more impact inside the home.

That’s because one in three women and one in four men experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. And adding a gun increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

Domestic violence is handled differently from state to state. But given the dangers and impact it has on families, how do we make laws that are consistently enforceable so that victims in every state are protected?

“If somebody in your household is controlling your bank, your phone… where can you go?” — Wendy Schiller, author

Listen: How lawmakers can better protect victims of domestic violence.


Wendy Schiller is a professor and chair of political science at Brown University. She recently co-authored the book: “Inequality Across State Lines: How Policymakers Have Failed Domestic Violence Victims in the United States.”

Schiller says state and the federal government need to create better social safety nets to help victims of domestic violence.

“We don’t have a safety net, for women, not a good enough one,” says Scihller. “We have to do better in providing ways for women to leave where they aren’t terrified of being homeless.”

April Zeoli is the Associate Professor of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan. She’s also the Policy Core Director, Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention.

Zeoli says abusers take advantage of the courts, including how it can be more difficult to accumulate evidence.

“The laws allow more protections to the abuser than the victim — and one of the reasons for that is because domestic abuse is often something that doesn’t leave a lot of physical evidence, particularly when a gun is involved,” says Zeoli. “If somebody points a gun at you, there are no bruises, there are no marks [and] there are usually no witnesses.”

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