Risks and Targeted Interventions: Firearms in Intimate Partner Violence

Epidemiol Rev. 2016;38(1):125-39. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxv007. Epub 2016 Jan 5.


The use of firearms in intimate partner violence (IPV) is widely recognized as an important public health threat. However, what we know about the risks of firearm access on IPV outcomes is limited. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review to determine the state of knowledge on 1) the risks of firearm access and use in IPV and 2) the effectiveness of interventions designed specifically to reduce firearm violence in intimate relationships. Only studies published in English in peer-reviewed journals from 1990 through 2014 were included. Results of the review suggest that, when violent intimates have access to firearms, IPV increases in severity and deadliness; however, increases in severity may not be due to firearm use. Additionally, statutes prohibiting persons under domestic violence restraining orders from accessing firearms are associated with reductions in intimate partner homicide, but certain provisions of these laws and their enforcement may impact their effectiveness. Future research should focus on elucidating the link between firearm access and increased IPV severity and on investigating whether and which specific provisions of domestic violence restraining order laws impact the laws' effectiveness. Additionally, more evaluations of initiatives designed to improve the enforcement of domestic violence restraining order firearm prohibitions are needed.

Keywords: domestic violence; firearms; homicide; interventions; policy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homicide / prevention & control
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / prevention & control
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control