MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Michael Siegel, MD, MPH
Department of Community Health Sciences
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston, MA 02118
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Each year, more than 1,800 people in the U.S. are killed by their intimate partners. Approximately half of these homicides are committed using firearms. While federal law prohibits people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms, there is no requirement that they surrender guns already in their possession.
To close this loophole, several states have enacted laws that not only prohibit gun possession by people subject to restraining orders, but which also explicitly require that they relinquish weapons that they already have.
In this study, we investigated the impact of state domestic violence-related firearm laws and rates of intimate partner homicide, using data from all 50 states over a 25-year period, 1991-2015.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: We found that state laws which both prohibit firearm possession by people subject to domestic violence restraining orders and explicitly require them to surrender weapons already in their possession were associated with firearm-related intimate partner homicide rates that were 14% lower than states without such laws.
However, we did not find a significant decrease in intimate partner homicide rates in states that merely banned gun possession, but did not require the relinquishment of weapons owned by people subject to restraining orders. These findings suggest that building enforcement into the law is critical in order for state gun laws to be effective in achieving their intended purpose.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Unfortunately, because of the small number of states that enacted similar gun relinquishment laws for people who have been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, we were unable to determine whether those laws are effective in reducing intimate partner homicide. Nor were we able to investigate individual domestic violence restraining order cases to better understand the enforcement of firearm laws.
Future studies will hopefully expand the scope of the laws studied as well as incorporate qualitative research techniques to generate a better understanding of how the procedures related to, and enforcement of domestic violence-related firearm laws at the state level affect their success in reducing firearm violence.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: This research was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Evidence for Action Program. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
Díez C, Kurland RP, Rothman EF, Bair-Merritt M, Fleegler E, Xuan Z, et al. State Intimate Partner Violence–Related Firearm Laws and Intimate Partner Homicide Rates in the United States, 1991 to 2015. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 19 September 2017] doi: 10.7326/M16-2849
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