California Women Murdered by Men Almost Always Know Their Killer, Most Common Weapon is a Gun

For Release: Wednesday, October 14, 2020

New Violence Policy Center Report Released During Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October

Washington, DC — California females murdered by males almost always know their killer and the most common weapon used is a gun, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report When Men Murder Women: California.

In 2018, 192 females were killed by males in the state and 88 percent of the victims knew their killer. Of those, 68 percent were an intimate partner of their killer. Guns were used in 49 percent of the 192 homicides, with handguns being the most common type of firearm used.

The report is drawn from research conducted for the September 2020 Violence Policy Center study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2018 Homicide Data. Each year the VPC releases this state-by-state study in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender and uses 2018 data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report, the most recent year for which national information is available.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know. Although advocates and many community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence, there is still much more work to be done to protect women in harm’s way.”

California statistics from the analysis include the following.

• In California, 192 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2018, at a rate of 0.97 per 100,000. Of the 192 female homicide victims, 71 were white, 57 were Latino, 30 were Black, 20 were Asian or Pacific Islander, three were American Indian or Alaskan Native, and in 11 cases the race of the victim was not identified.

• Nearly nine out of 10 victims (88 percent) knew their offenders. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 68 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Seven times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers.

• Firearms were the weapons most commonly used by males to murder females in California in 2018. For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 49 percent of female victims were shot and killed with a gun. Of the homicides committed with guns, 70 percent were killed with handguns. Among the female intimates who were murdered, 53 percent (61 victims) were killed with guns; 75 percent of these (46 victims) were shot and killed with handguns.

• The overwhelming majority of these homicides were not related to any other felony crime, such as rape or robbery. In California, for homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 74 percent of the homicides were not related to the commission of another felony. Most often, females were killed by males in the course of an argument between the victim and the offender.

The report also contains national statistics.

The report was funded by the Hope and Heal Fund, the only state-based donor collaborative fund investing in racially equitable, public health, community-based strategic solutions to prevent injuries, trauma and death as a result of firearms within the homes and communities in California. Hope and Heal Fund works with community leaders and thought leaders to provide communities with actionable data, resources and capacity to achieve success. Hope and Heal Fund strategically invests in gun violence prevention strategies throughout the state of California.

The report calculates the rate of women murdered by men by dividing the total number of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents by the total female population and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

To view the report, please visit

To see the full national study, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2018 Homicide Data, as well as prior year’s editions, please click here.


The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
(202) 822-8200 x104