Arizona Domestic Abuse Victims Are Dying By Gunshot At Twice The National Rate

Women in Arizona are dying at the hands of their partners and ex-partners at a far higher rate than elsewhere in the country. Tactics to protect them are outdated and inefficient. Arizona isn’t known for putting resources into people, and the resultant statistics are grim.

According to a survey by Everytown for Gun Safety, Arizona’s domestic-violence homicide rate is 5.77 per million, compared to the national rate of 3.96 per million. Most of the victims are women, 62% of whom died by gunshot.

The report says just of those shooting deaths:

[Arizona’s] domestic violence gun homicide rate was 45 percent higher than the national average.

Basically, Arizona loves guns more than it does women. Gun laws promote possession. Protections are scarce and poorly enforced.

The majority of these gunshot deaths occurred in the rural northwestern quarter of the state — in Mohave, Coconino, and Yavapai counties — where guns are a way of life and regulation is not. As bad as Arizona’s statistics are, those three counties have a domestic homicide rate that is double the state’s as a whole.

The problem for Arizona’s women is at least threefold. First is the ease with which guns can be obtained. Second is a flawed order-of-protection system. Third is the failure to order abusers to surrender their guns. Forty-one percent of the shooting suspects had a previous arrest or conviction or were the subject of a protection of order. Thirteen percent were specifically forbidden to possess a firearm because of their criminal record or an order of protection.

Even those who are prohibited from possessing guns have no problem buying them in Arizona. Firearms can be easily purchased at gun shows, through unlicensed dealers, and over the Internet without a background check.

And even if a woman is supposedly covered by an order of protection, the system relies on paper, rather than computers. What has been written on paper, has to be entered into a computer and then sent to the FBI’s data base. The results are pretty spotty.

Lastly, according to Everytown:

Arizona law does not require that people under domestic violence orders of protection turn in their guns, nor does it provide a clear process for turning them in when it is ordered.

Whether or not an abuser is required to give up his guns is at the discretion of the judge. Many judges don’t bother to issue the order to surrender the firearms and, even when they do, there’s no method of enforcement. Plus, if an abuser is convicted of domestic violence, he’s only forbidden to possess guns while he’s on probation. As soon as he’s off, he’s free to obtain more.

Unfortunately for the domestic-violence victims in Arizona, the loopholes in the state’s gun laws become the noose that results in their deaths. Changing the law to tighten restrictions can only happen when — and if — the state starts to value its women more than guns.

Feature photo from Wikimedia.