Gender-Based Violence and Firearms

Editor: I asked Trinity Salazar to write a post on a current issue of importance with a brief recommendation of policy goals that could be advanced by nonprofits. While this is a bit of a departure from our usual content, it is intended to promote nonprofit advocacy, a theme throughout many of our posts, and the amplification of younger voices. Enjoy.

The intersection between gender-based violence among women and gun violence is relatively frequent in high-income nations like the United States. Mainstream media frequently covers gun violence. Yet, despite its ubiquity, the media has failed to cover its unfortunate connections with gender-based violence.

While there are multiple reasons for this failure, one deserving attention is related to the reality that communities mostly affected by this violence are those generally avoided by the government due to their class, location, and/or race.

Women living in the United States are faced with two forms of gun violence: being threatened or shot. Both forms of violence root into lasting forms of PTSD, physical harm, or death, and more broadly, women feeling unsafe in their environment.

Intimate Partner Violence

Often, the people inflicting this harm are intimate partners. Intimate partner violence (IPV) involves a current or previous domestic partner who is abusive towards another partner. There are many forms of violence, but in this context, the focus will be on physical and emotional violence. When IPV is paired with firearms, the results can be deadly. “[A]busers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their female victims”(Everytown Research & Policy, 2023).

Moreover, abusers use firearms as a form of power over their partners to gain control and inflict violence onto their partners.

Stalking and IPV

In 2018, the National Domestic Hotline found that over “one-third of callers reported being threatened with a gun”(Everytown Research & Policy, 2023). About three-fourths of the victims that reported being threatened with a gun also reported and/or experienced stalking incidents with the same partner (Id.). When stalking is reported, there is a lack of research, reporting, and conviction for the crime (Nguyen, Alex, et al, 2022).“One study found that 76 percent of intimate partner homicides and 85 percent of attempted homicides of women were preceded by at least one incident of stalking in the year before the attack”(Id.). Due to the lack of seriousness among police authorities with stalking reports, it puts women at risk of physical and emotional abuse with the possibility of firearm violence.

More action and research about stalking may help inform ways to reduce the use of firearms as a form of violence towards women. Stronger laws and enforcement actions against previous partners stalking women would be key to reducing stalking-related gun violence against women.

Indigenous Women and Gun Violence

There is data showing that women of color are more likely to experience gender-based violence and gun violence from their intimate partners than white women. Indigenous women are most at risk.

A report by the Department of Justice found that “more than half of all American Indian and Alaskan Native women have experienced physical intimate partner violence, and more than two-thirds have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner”(Orion, 2022). “Alarmingly, guns are used in nearly half of all AI/AN intimate partner homicides” (Orion, 2022).

Even with the high numbers of reported incidents of gender-based violence and gun violence experienced by indigenous women, there is a lack of urgency and calls to action from outside of the indigenous communities to address this problem. While this form of inequity is outside of the scope of this article, it’s important to note that the feminist movement in mainstream media has historically left out many specific issues faced by women of color.

Policy Proposals

Two obvious ways to reduce the unfortunate intersectionality between gender-based violence and gun violence are stricter gun laws and greater access to healthcare. However, two other policy goals may be more attainable in the current political climate.

The first goal is strengthening community-based interventions, particularly those that are led by women (especially women of color) who aim to be a resource for women currently facing gun violence and stalking, or requiring support for PTSD for themselves or their children. Such interventions should be made reasonably available in low-income communities with a focus on people of color.

The second goal is increasing funding for research on IPV and stalking. If such research catalyzes the passage of laws to require the confiscation of firearms from persons with a record of stalking, many women may be spared from IPV and the many resulting harms.

Each of these policy goals should focus on  communities of color as well as rural and low-income communities that lack resources and may require different interventions. 


Guns and Violence against Women: America’s Uniquely Lethal Intimate Partner Violence Problem” Everytown Research & Policy, 2 Oct. 2023.

Nguyen, Alex, et al. “Gun Violence in American Indian and Alaska Native CommunitiesGiffords, 7 Oct. 2022.

Rummler, Orion. “Stalking Remains a Problem for Women and LGBTQ+ People” The 19th, 3 Feb. 2022.

Trinity Salazar recently graduated with a degree in International Relations and has a keen interests in learning about history and going on walks.