Objective: The goal of this study was to assess the frequency, nature, and outcome of weapon use in intimate partner violence (IPV) and to assess compliance with related gun policies.
Methods: Data were drawn from forms police are mandated to complete at the scene of IPV in the fifth largest U.S. city during 2013. Proportions were calculated and odds ratios were adjusted for demographic and contextual characteristics and a Bonferroni correction for multiple statistical tests was applied.
Results: Of the 35,413 incidents, 6,573 involved hands, fists, or feet, and 1,866 involved external weapons of which 576 were guns. Most incidents were male-on-female: 63.4% (no weapon), 77.4% (bodily weapon), 50.2% (nongun external weapon), and 79.5% (gun). Guns were used most often to threaten the partner (69.1%). When a gun (vs. bodily or nongun external weapon) was used, IPV victims were less likely to have visible injuries (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.64 and 0.23, respectively)-offenders were less likely to have pushed or shoved, grabbed, punched, or kicked the victim-but (victims) were more likely to be frightened (AOR = 3.13 and 1.49, respectively).
Conclusions: Weapon use of any type by an intimate partner is associated with a wide range of violent offender behavior and multiple negative outcomes for victims. The use of a gun has implications that include, but go beyond, physical injury of the victim. Documentation of the enforcement of state law regarding gun removal merits improvement, which has important implications for the evaluation of policies designed to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
Keywords: domestic violence; firearms; guns; injury; intimate partner violence; policy.