Intimate partner homicides have seen a significant spike of 22% over the past five years, according to a report released by Brady: United Against Gun Violence. The analysis conducted by the gun reform advocacy group reveals that an American now fatally shoots their spouse or dating partner every 12 hours. The rise in violence, predominantly targeting women, is most prevalent in states with easier access to firearms. The report, based on data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, comes as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case regarding the gun rights of individuals subject to protective orders for domestic violence.
The upcoming Supreme Court case, USA v. Rahimi, will be the first time the conservative-dominated court addresses gun rights since expanding Second Amendment protections last year. Under the new gun rights standard set by Justice Clarence Thomas, judges no longer weigh public safety against the individual right to bear arms. Instead, firearm restrictions are deemed constitutional only if similar laws existed between 1791 and the end of the Civil War. This ruling has led to conflicting lower-court decisions, with some overturning long-standing gun safety laws.
One controversial decision by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involved Zackey Rahimi, whose conviction for possessing firearms while under a protective order for committing family violence was overturned. This ruling restored the gun rights of a man accused of firing guns in public. However, Rahimi remains incarcerated and faces additional charges. The possibility of domestic abusers retaining access to firearms has raised concerns among gun reform advocates, who argue that current laws do not adequately protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
The total number of intimate partner homicides has increased for four consecutive years, reaching a peak of 856 in 2021. Although the figure dropped to 782 in 2022, it remains 22% higher than five years ago, with an average of two intimate partner homicides occurring daily nationwide. These numbers align with the broader trend of increased firearm purchases and homicides in recent years. Men accounted for 83% of the perpetrators in intimate partner homicides.
The five states with the highest number of intimate partner homicides—Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee—are also among those with the easiest access to firearms. Only Tennessee requires domestic abusers to surrender their firearms when a protective order is issued, a measure that has been linked to a reduction in intimate partner homicides. Texas recorded the highest number of intimate partner homicides over the five-year period, while California, despite having a larger population, had significantly fewer due to stricter gun regulations.