Nevada Ranks 5th in Nation for Fatal Domestic Violence Shootings

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There's no question that the presence of a gun in the home increases the likelihood that an altercation between intimate partners will turn deadly. Sadly, Nevada has a poor record when it comes to guns and domestic violence.

According to a joint study by the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety between 2010 and 2014, women in our state were nearly two-thirds more likely to be fatally shot by a partner than those throughout the country as a whole. We also had the dubious ranking of fifth in the country for fatal domestic violence shootings.

In the five years studied, Nevada had 46 domestic violence homicides involving a gun. In addition to those 46 victims, 10 family members and friends were killed, including two children. Almost two-thirds of the shooters then committed suicide. Nearly all did so by turning the gun on themselves.

Of the 46 homicides, 9 percent occurred here in Washoe County. That was second only to Clark County, where almost 75 percent of the deaths occurred.

As the debate about gun control and background checks rages throughout the country and in the halls of Congress, the rights and ability of those convicted of domestic violence to obtain a firearm is a concern of many. According to the study discussed here, over a quarter of the shooters were prohibited from legally having a gun due to a criminal record. In most cases, that record included domestic violence.

Under both federal law and Nevada state law, anyone convicted of a domestic abuse crime or subject to a protection order related to domestic violence is prohibited from purchasing a gun. While these things show up in a background check, which licensed gun dealers are required to run, unlicensed dealers aren't required to do them. Many people purchase weapons from unlicensed dealers at gun shows or online.

Advocates for background checks are trying to close these "gun show loopholes." Nevada has a measure on the ballot in November that attempts to do that.

Regardless of where you stand on background checks and other gun control changes, what's important to know is that one of the penalties of a domestic violence conviction or even a protection order is the loss of your right to own a gun. That's why it's essential to have experienced legal guidance if you are charged with a crime involving domestic violence.

Source: Everytown for Gun Safety and the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, "A Census of Intimate Partner Gun Homicides in Nevada," accessed July 13, 2016

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