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Firearms and Protective Orders in Intimate Partner Homicides

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To determine differences among intimate partner homicides (IPH) by whether or not a firearm was used in and whether a protective order (PO) was filed prior to IPH. We identified all incidents of IPH recorded in the National Violent Death Reporting System from 2003 to 2018, based on the relationship between victim and perpetrator. We characterized incidents, perpetrators and victims in IPH cases by whether or not a firearm was used, and whether a PO had been sought or issued prior to the IPH. We identified 8375 IPH incidents with a total of 9130 victims. Overall 306 (3.3%) victims were killed in a firearm IPH with PO, 4519 (53.9%) in a firearm IPH without PO, 176 (2.1%) in a non-firearm IPH with PO and 3416 (40.7%) in a non-firearm IPH without PO. Based on review of incident narratives, 5.4% (n = 451) of incidents involved a previously-granted or sought PO, and none of which had explicitly mentioned firearm removal as a part of the PO. The majority of victims were killed with a firearm. Prior literature suggests that POs with firearm removal may be effective strategies for reducing risk of IPH, but we found no documentation in the narratives that firearm removal was a condition in the POs identified. As very few IPH narratives included documentation of a PO, it is likely that ascertainment of PO status is incomplete and could be an area for improvement in NVDRS data collection efforts.

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Correspondence to Vivian H. Lyons.

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Lyons, V.H., Adhia, A., Moe, C. et al. Firearms and Protective Orders in Intimate Partner Homicides. J Fam Viol 36, 587–596 (2021).

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