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Journal Article


Folkes SEF, Hilton NZ, Harris GT. J. Interpers. Violence 2013; 28(6): 1143-1156.


(Copyright © 2013, SAGE Publishing)






Use of weapons is a risk factor for domestic violence severity, especially lethality. It is not clear, however, whether access to firearms itself increases assault severity, or whether it is characteristic of a subgroup of offenders who are more likely to commit severe and repeated domestic assault. This reanalysis of 1,421 police reports of domestic violence by men found that 6% used a weapon during the assault and 8% had access to firearms. We expected that firearm use would be rare compared to other weapons and that actual weapon use rather than firearm access would increase the severity of domestic assaults. Firearm access was associated with assault severity, but this was mostly attributable to use of nonfirearm weapons. Weapon use was associated with older age, lower education, and relationship history as well as to assault severity. Victims were most concerned about future assaults following threats and actual injuries. Although firearm access and weapon use were related to actuarial risk of domestic violence recidivism, neither predicted the occurrence or severity of recidivism. We conclude that, consistent with previous research in the United States and Canada, firearm use in domestic violence is uncommon even among offenders with known firearm access. Weapon use is characteristic of a subgroup of offenders who commit more severe domestic violence, and seizure of weapons may be an effective intervention.

Language: en


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