Attorney General Bonta’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention Issues Report on Links Between Domestic Violence and Gun Violence

Monday, November 6, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Reflects that California policies, including Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, save lives, and prevent gun violence 

Issued in advance of Supreme Court’s oral arguments in case challenging federal DVRO law

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today released the second data report issued by the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Gun Violence Prevention, providing an in-depth look at the ties between domestic violence and firearms. The report examines data illustrating the impact of firearms-related domestic violence, including both family and intimate partner-related violence with firearms. The report documents California’s long-term progress in reducing domestic violence involving firearms and recent challenges arising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the report highlights California’s efforts to empower and protect survivors by providing a range of support services, offering crisis intervention and safety planning options, providing for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVROs), and enforcing laws to protect against gun violence.  

“The data is clear: Domestic violence abusers should not have firearms,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “When an abuser has access to a firearm, it endangers the safety and lives of those around them. Violence is not an accident. It is also not inevitable, and it can be prevented. Removing dangerous weapons from people who pose a danger to others is key to that goal. I am proud of the work we are doing at the California Department of Justice to uphold, defend, and enforce our state’s vital domestic violence and gun safety laws and policies, including Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and other court protection orders that remove firearms from people who should not have them. This report gives an in-depth look at the ties between domestic violence and firearms, shining a light on the problem at hand, and illuminating the path to safety before us.”

“Data demonstrates that domestic violence perpetrators with access to firearms are lethal - to their victims, children, and communities," said Allison Kephart, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer at WEAVE. “We must do better to ensure all victims and communities are protected.” 

“While the highest court in the land debates whether people subject to domestic violence protective orders should be able to access guns, we know the truth: when a woman is being abused by a male partner who has access to firearms, she is five times more likely to be killed by her abusive partner,” said Rocci Jackson, Gun Violence Restraining Order Community Analyst at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. “Survivors deserve to begin their pathway to healing with laws that promote their safety. We refuse to leave domestic violence survivors and communities behind—especially Black and Native women who disproportionately feel the impacts of gun violence. While the U.S. v. Rahimi trial takes place, provides the legal and community protections available now." 

"California has made significant progress in protecting domestic abuse survivors from the threat of gun violence," said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. "As we look ahead to tomorrow's Supreme Court oral argument for Rahimi, the deadly consequences of siding with the gun lobby over domestic abuse survivors are clear. With so much at stake, lawmakers nationwide must follow California's example by prioritizing gun safety legislation. Our volunteers, students, and gun sense champions remain fiercely committed to keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of those with a history of violence and fighting for the safety of millions of women."

“For decades, California has been a leader in preventing gun violence, and recognizing the lethal impacts of firearms in domestic violence situations,” said Shikha Hamilton, Brady Vice President of Organizing. “Because of leaders like Attorney General Bonta, we have made strides to put a stop to the senseless loss of some of their most vulnerable people, and yet there remains more to do. Today, California continues to lead by shining a light on these issues. We are grateful for this leadership and look forward to continuing progress and work towards freeing the people of the Golden State from gun violence once and for all.”

"GIFFORDS commends Attorney General Bonta on his leadership in issuing this critical report on the dangerous intersection of firearms and domestic violence. California's lifesaving policies, combined with federal law, are crucial to reducing risk and increasing safety for adult victims, their children, and our communities,” said Julia Weber, Esq. MSW, Attorney Consultant, GIFFORDS. “As the US Supreme Court takes up the question of whether domestic abusers should have firearms in the US vs Rahimi case, we welcome the Attorney General's efforts to protect California's families and the laws we need to fairly and effectively increase safety."

 “Every day, My Sister’s House works to support women facing domestic violence,” said Yen Marshall, Executive Director, My Sister’s House. “Through our help line, housing, women to work, counseling and legal services, we are proud of our efforts to assist women in crisis situations. However, it is important to fully understand the dangerous dynamic that firearms bring to abusive relationships. Guns add to the power that the abuser has over their partner, which results in twelve times higher likelihood of death. My Sister’s House supports efforts to strengthen laws that limit abusers’ access to firearms.

Domestic violence and gun violence are devastating, intertwined societal challenges. Approximately 4.5 million women have been threatened by an intimate partner with a gun and nearly one million have been shot, shot at, or had a gun used against them by an intimate partner. Homicide is among the leading causes of death in the U.S. during pregnancy and postpartum and these homicides often arise from a deadly mix of intimate partner violence and firearms. 

The report outlines California’s strategies to increase safety and well-being for domestic violence survivors and the broader community, including through DVROs, Criminal Protection Orders, and other protection order options that work to disarm people found through court processes to post a threat of harm. These vital, life-saving policies have helped California achieve substantial and durable reductions in firearm-related domestic violence and in gun homicides of women and children — progress that stands apart from national trends.

Highlights from the report, which can be found here, include:

  • California has made substantial long-term progress in reducing the incidence of domestic violence involving firearms and in reducing gun homicide rates for women and children, who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence-related homicides. From 1993 to 2019, California recorded a 63% reduction in per capita rates of domestic violence-related calls for law enforcement assistance involving firearms, a 61% reduction in domestic violence-related gun homicides, a 67% reduction in female-victim gun homicide rates, and an 80% reduction in gun homicide rates for children aged 14 and under.
  •  California’s gun homicide rates for women and children have been much lower than rates recorded for the rest of the nation. From 2018-2022, California’s female-victim gun homicide rate was about half (46% below) the rate recorded for the rest of the U.S. For children aged 14 and under, California’s gun homicide rate was less than half (57% below) the rate for the rest of the nation. However, over the past decade, a majority of all female homicide victims in California were killed by a current or former intimate partner or family member, and a majority of child homicide victims between the ages of one and 14 were killed by a family member. 
  • California also experienced substantial increases in domestic violence-related calls for law enforcement assistance involving reported use or threatened use of firearms during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, court records also showed a 17% decrease in the number of cases filed seeking the protections of a DVRO in California.
  • County-level analysis also shows that some counties reported much higher rates of firearm-related domestic violence incidents than others.

While California continues to make significant progress to address gun violence through strategies such as DVROs to protect survivors of domestic violence, states’ ability to protect citizens using these effective strategies is under threat. On November 7, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in U.S. v Rahimi, a case involving a Second Amendment challenge to a federal law disarming individuals subject to certain DVROs. In the lower court’s decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the criminal conviction of a defendant who had possessed a firearm after being subject to a DVRO, which had been issued by a state court in Texas because the defendant had allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend. Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition of 25 attorneys general in submitting an amicus to the Supreme Court arguing that the lower court’s decision that the DVRO violated the constitutional right of the defendant puts individuals at risk of being harmed or killed by their abusers, curtails the rights of states and the federal government to protect residents’ safety, and is inconsistent with a historical tradition of disarming individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens.

California’s DOJ’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention was launched by Attorney General Bonta in 2022. The office, dedicated to developing strategies and working with stakeholders statewide to address the gun violence epidemic, is the first in the nation established within an attorney general’s office. Earlier this year, the office released its first data report to provide a robust review of gun violence data in California and throughout the U.S. to help guide policy and strategy discussions related to reducing gun violence. The report highlighted California’s successes in preventing gun violence, and it shined a light on successful strategies and further areas for improvements. For example, over the last 30 years, California has reduced its gun violence rate compared to the rest of the United States; once 50% above average, California’s firearm homicide rate is now 33% below the rest of the United States. Additionally, if the firearm mortality rate in the rest of the United States had matched California’s between 2013-2022, there would have been nearly 140,000 fewer firearm-related deaths nationwide in that decade alone.

Read the report here.

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