Women with protective orders report failure to remove firearms from their abusive partners: results from an exploratory study

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Jan;19(1):93-8. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0530.


Aims: The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of women who sought court protection orders for domestic violence (PODV) about actions to implement laws intended to disarm their abusers.

Methods: We identified female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) in New York and Los Angeles primarily through family courts and records of police calls for domestic violence. Of these, 782 were surveyed and asked about their experiences seeking PODV from courts, judges ordering the removal of firearms from defendants, and if firearms were actually surrendered or confiscated.

Results: Of the 542 victims who had obtained a PODV and knew whether their abuser owned a firearm, 82 (15%) reported that their abuser owned a firearm. Although state law either allowed or mandated judges issuing PODVs to require abusers to surrender their firearms, 21 victims (26%) reported that judges used this authority. Ten victims (12% of victims with armed abusers) reported that their abuser had either surrendered all of his firearms or had the firearms seized. When victims reported that the judge ordered their abuser to surrender his firearms, victims were more likely to report that all firearms were either surrendered by the abuser or confiscated by law enforcement.

Conclusions: Based on the perceptions of the IPV victims in this study, laws designed to disarm domestic violence offenders were either poorly implemented or failed to inform victims when their abuser's firearms were surrendered or confiscated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Battered Women* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Battered Women* / psychology
  • Battered Women* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Female
  • Firearms* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Firearms* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement*
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • New York
  • Spouses* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Spouses* / statistics & numerical data