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Domestic violence deaths linked to firearms in the home

There's a lethal connection between domestic violence and the presence of firearms in the home -- one that gives victim's advocates serious cause for concern.

According to popular conception, a handgun can protect a woman against abuse. But actual studies indicate the opposite. A handgun in the home of an abused woman is likely to be used against her -- in fact, she's 6 times more likely to die from domestic violence than another abused woman in a house without a gun. Less than 1 percent of the victims of violent crimes are likely to even try to protect themselves with a firearm.

This is an important thing for both victims and police officers involved in domestic violence cases to note, especially if the victim reached out to the court system and requested a protective order. Victims should always try to alert the court and police officers to the presence of a firearm if the officers are going to serve the order to the alleged abuser.

The judge is capable of issuing an order that will allow the police to take possession of the firearms and other weapons found in the home while the protective order remains in place -- but he or she can only issue the order if aware that weapons are there in the first place.

Domestic violence victims in Arizona are entitled to several different forms of protective orders which may help them, including emergency orders. Those can be granted at any time of the day or night by a judge in writing, verbally or even by telephone if there is an imminent danger to the victim.

However, victims who are planning on breaking away from their abusers should be proactive and have a safety plan, especially if there is a weapon in the house. A good safety plan includes:

-- Leaving when your abuser is at a hang-out or work, and go as quickly as possible.

-- Don't tell anyone, even close relatives, about your plan in advance.

-- Have a place to go where the abuser will not find you. Domestic violence shelters often keep their locations secret but will send someone to meet you if you're on the run.

For more information on how to get a protective order or other tools to stop domestic violence, talk to an attorney today.

Source: National Research Center on Domestic Violence, "What is the connection between firearms and domestic violence homicides?," accessed April 28, 2017

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