Each year for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October the Violence Policy Center releases its report When Men Murder Women. This VPC study, using the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report, details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender (the scenario most often featured by the gun lobby and gunmakers in their marketing efforts targeting women). Included in the study's findings is a ranking of the states by their per capita rate of females killed by males.
According to this year's analysis, in 2008 (the most recent year available) Nevada, with a rate of 2.96 per 100,000, had the highest rate of females killed by males in the nation. Ranked behind Nevada were: Vermont at 2 with a rate of 2.54 per 100,000; Alabama at 3 with a rate of 2.07 per 100,000; North Carolina at 4 with a rate of 2.05 per 100,000; Tennessee at 5 with a rate of 1.97 per 100,000; Texas at 6 with a rate of 1.72 per 100,000; Arkansas at 7 (tie) with a rate of 1.71 per 100,000; Missouri at 7 (tie) with a rate of 1.71 per 100,000; South Carolina at 9 with a rate of 1.69 per 100,000; and, Georgia at 10 with a rate of 1.66 per 100,000.
Nationwide, in 2008, there were 1,817 females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents that were submitted to the FBI for its Supplementary Homicide Report. Key findings from the report dispel many of the myths regarding the nature of lethal violence against women:
- For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 92 percent of female victims (1,564 out of 1,694) were murdered by someone they knew.
- Twelve times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,564 victims) than were killed by male strangers (130 victims). For victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (997) of female homicide victims were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers.
- There were 278 women shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during the course of an argument.
- Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon could be determined (1,662), more female homicides were committed with firearms (52 percent) than with any other weapon. Knives and other cutting instruments accounted for 21 percent of all female murders, bodily force 15 percent, and murder by blunt object seven percent. Of the homicidescommitted with firearms, 71 percent were committed with handguns.
- In 86 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.
Guns can easily turn domestic violence into domestic homicide. One federal study on homicide among intimate partners found that female intimate partners were more likely to be murdered with a firearm than all other means combined and concluded that "the figures demonstrate the importance of reducing access to firearms in households affected by IPV [intimate partner violence]." In addition, gun use does not need to result in a fatality to involve domestic violence. A study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers analyzed gun use at home and stated in its conclusion that "in the home, hostile gun displays against family members may be more common than gun use in self-defense, and that hostile gun displays are often acts of domestic violence directed against women."
The picture that emerges from When Men Murder Women is that women face the greatest threat from someone they know, most often a spouse or intimate acquaintance, who is armed with a gun.