Domestic violence is pervasive, terrifying, and deadly. In far too many violent relationships, the cycle of power and control ends in homicide of the domestic violence victim. The details and patterns of escalation that led to these homicides are horrific, and involve strangulation, lighting the victims on fire, knives, and vehicular homicide. However, in the overwhelming majority of these murders, the abuser used firearms to kill the victim.
In 2016, the Associated Press conducted an analysis of homicide data across 49 states and determined that an average of 760 Americans are killed each year in gun violence by their intimate partners or former intimate partners. The vast majority of those killed by guns were girlfriends and wives of the perpetrators.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that firearms are used to kill domestic violence victims more frequently than all other means combined. In fact, in 2015, firearms were used in at least 50 out of 70 domestic violence homicides in North Carolina. Further, when an abuser has access to a firearm, the victim is 500% more likely to be killed.
If you are in a violent relationship, get help from the National Hotline or contact your local domestic violence agency for immediate assistance. If your partner has access to firearms or has threatened to use a firearm, know that you are in danger.
Domestic Violence Protective Orders and Firearms
A domestic violence protective order (DVPO) is one of the tools that an attorney or a domestic violence agency can use to protect a person from an abuser. North Carolina Section 50B, which governs DVPOs, allows a court to prohibit an abuser from purchasing a firearm for the duration of the order. Significantly, courts may order abusers under a DVPO to surrender their firearms, licenses, and concealed carry permits to the sheriff if any of the following events has occurred:
- The abuser has threatened to use a deadly weapon or has previously used the threat of a firearm;
- There have been threats to seriously injure or kill the victim or children;
- Suicidal threats by the abuser; or
- The abuser has inflicted serious injuries on the victim or a child.
For additional consequences, General Statute Section 14-269.8 makes it a criminal offense for a person under a DVPO to “possess, purchase, or receive or attempt to possess, purchase, or receive a firearm.”
New Direction Family Law
If you are in immediate danger, get away and get help from a domestic violence agency. If you are married to your abuser, contact New Direction Family Law. We can provide you with relevant options so that you can make a safe, informed decision about your future. Our firm serves Wake, Johnston, Durham and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470, or contact us at our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law