New Report Shows Murders of Women Typically Involve Domestic Violence And Guns

For Release:  Tuesday, October 5, 1999

Most Women Are Killed by Someone They Know – Debunks “Dangerous Stranger” Myth Promoted by Gun Lobby

Includes State-by-State Ranking of Female Homicide Rates 

Women are far more likely to be murdered by someone they know, most commonly with a handgun, according to the new Violence Policy Center report When Men Murder Women. The annual report analyzes 1997 FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data, the most recent available, and debunks many of the myths surrounding fatal violence against women especially that the greatest danger comes from attacks by predatory strangers. The study is being released to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The 29-page report also contains a state-by-state ranking of 1997 female homicide rates. The state with the highest 1997 rate of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender cases was Louisiana, followed by Nevada, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Oklahoma (see table below for top 15 states).

“Our goal is to counter fear with facts. The gun lobby fosters fear as a marketing ploy to sell handguns to women,” said VPC Health Policy Analyst Karen Brock, the report’s author. “The most common threat a woman faces is not a knife-wielding stranger, but someone she knows, most frequently her husband or boyfriend, armed with a gun.”

The study, and the state rankings, consider only data on homicides reported by state and local law enforcement officials to the FBI for 1997 in which one male attacker killed one female victim.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • More than 12 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,689 victims) than were killed by male strangers (137 victims).
  • There were 393 women killed with a gun by their husband or intimate acquaintance during the course of an argument – more than one woman murdered every day of the year.
  • More homicides against females were committed with firearms (52 percent) than with all other weapons combined. Of the homicides committed with firearms, 3 out of 4 (75 percent) were committed with handguns.


Number of Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Homicides Ranked by Top 15 States in the United States



Number of Homicides Homicide Rate per 100,000
1 Louisiana 89 3.94
2 Nevada 25 3.03
3 Arkansas 37 2.84
4 South Carolina 50 2.55
5 Oklahoma 41 2.41
6 North Carolina 89 2.33
7 Alabama 51 2.27
8 Virginia 76 2.21
9 Wyoming 5 2.09
10 Alaska 6 2.07
11 Maryland 53 2.02
12  Georgia 74 1.92
13 Texas 182 1.85
14 Colorado 36 1.83
15 New Mexico 16 1.83
. Rates have been rounded to two decimal places. In the case of a tie, the rate has been carried out to another decimal place. Thus, Colorado is ranked 14th with a rate of 1.833 and New Mexico is ranked 15th with a rate of 1.827




About the Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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