The many risks of firearms in the hands of domestic violence offenders
Firearms in the hands of domestic violence (DV) offenders are a deadly combination. This danger extends beyond survivors and families. These firearms pose risks to law enforcement, the community, and offenders themselves.
In Washington State, firearms are used in domestic violence homicides more often than all other weapons combined. A 2013-2014 study shows 54% of these perpetrators were already not allowed to own firearms under Washington State law.
Research shows the risk of homicide for women increases by 500% when a firearm is present in a domestic violence situation. The risk is highest when she is trying to end the relationship.
"Recent separation" is the single most important red flag to predict a lethal response, according to the highly respected Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA). 45% of domestic violence homicides occur within 90 days of separation, most within the first few days.
One of the most important elements in preventing DV fatalities is removing the firearm from the situation. Domestic violence calls also lead to more police fatalities than any other type of law enforcement response. Intervening to remove firearms from DV offenders can increase community safety across the board.
We also know that individuals sometimes experience periods of crisis or may make threats to harm themselves or others. Having access to a firearm or making attempts to obtain firearms during periods of interpersonal crisis can be dangerous. The unit is here to assist law enforcement, and family or household members, who wish to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). An ERPO can temporarily prohibit someone who is a danger to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. Please reach out to our ERPO inbox above for more information.