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At the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Firearms is the Enforcement of Federal Gun Laws

With the onset of COVID-19, victim advocates and other service providers encountered new challenges and developed innovative ways to aid victims and survivors of domestic violence in these unprecedented times. With these new approaches, we have expanded the tools in our tool boxes to fight domestic violence, both during and after the pandemic. Yet, with all of this innovation and creativity, we still must remember the basics to stop the violence and keep victims safe.  

Research establishes the presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood of homicide by 500% (1). Not surprisingly, this risk extends to anyone within range of the violence: children and other family members in the home, neighbors, bystanders and police officers who selflessly respond to these most dangerous calls for help.

Recently, OVW had an opportunity to speak to David Keck, the Project Director for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms, a project of the Battered Women’s Justice Project in Minneapolis, MN. David’s program works with communities that are interested in removing guns from the hands of dangerous people, including perpetrators of domestic violence. David addresses the issue that a firearm in the household of a domestic abuser can cause everyone in the home to comply with the demands of the abuser who controls that weapon. An armed bank robber uses a firearm in a similar manner to intimidate victims and witnesses. The firearm never needs to be discharged for those involved to be in fear and thus compliant.

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms provides a range of services including telephone consultations, meeting facilitation, assistance with policy and protocol development, and community-based trainings. The Resource Center can assist any community with efforts to reduce homicides by removing guns from those with qualifying domestic violence convictions or protection orders, in accordance with federal law.

As a former prosecutor, I have seen first-hand the strain and terror that victims of domestic violence and their families experience. I have seen the devastation resulting from domestic violence homicides.  

Thank you to David and everyone that shares OVW’s goals of ending domestic violence, keeping our communities safe and serving victims and survivors of domestic violence. I hope you find this episode of Patchwork informative. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please reach out for help. You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at or 1-800-787-3224, or your local domestic violence coalition, which can help connect you to local resources.



  1. Campbell, J. C., Webster, D., Koziol-McLain, J., et al. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multisite case control study. American journal of public health, 93(7), 1089-1097.
Updated January 20, 2021