The best efforts of the firearms industry and its supporters to portray gun ownership as a guarantor of personal safety cannot conceal the reality. A 1997 Archives of Internal Medicine study that examined the risk factors of violent death for women in the home (in three U.S. counties) found that when there were one or more guns in the home, the risk of homicide increased more than three times.6 The increased risk of homicide associated with firearms was attributable to homicides at the hands of a spouse, intimate acquaintance, or close relative.
Often a gun in the home is a key factor in the escalation of nonfatal spousal abuse to homicide. In a study of family and intimate assaults for the city of Atlanta in 1984, firearm-associated family and intimate assaults were 12 times more likely to result in death than non-firearm associated assaults between family and intimates.7
The picture that emerges from When Men Murder Women is strikingly different from the fear-mongering fictions promoted by the gun lobby. The data suggest that women do not face the greatest threat of murder from knife-wielding strangers intent on rape or robbery, but from someone they know, most often a spouse or intimate acquaintance, who is armed with a gun. For women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but to take them.