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Gun Control: A Feminist Issue

A new study finds a relationship between gun ownership and shooting homicides, but only for women.

By Tom Jacobs


(Illustration: Raul Arias)

The fear of being attacked by a stranger often drives the decision to keep a weapon. But for women, that fear conceals a far greater danger — one that is heightened by the presence of firearms.

For a study in Violence and Gender, two researchers examined the relationship between gun ownership and shooting homicides. They couldn’t find a strong connection — for men. But states with a greater concentration of weapons reported higher levels of gun-related homicides of women.

While the study does not establish causality, the researchers draw attention to the use of firearms in domestic disputes, noting that 88 percent of American women killed by gun violence between 1981 and 2013 were attacked by someone they knew. The results suggest policies reducing firearm ownership could substantially curtail fatal shootings of women by family or partners.