I’m an Emmy-award winning investigative reporter that’s looking into how ineffective laws have allowed domestic abusers to keep their guns with deadly consequences. AMA.
Thank you to everyone that asked questions! To find out more about our ongoing investigation, visit our series page on our website: https://revealnews.org/when-abusers-keep-their-guns/
My name is Jennifer Gollan and I’m an investigative reporter at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. I’ve reported on topics ranging from oil companies that dodge accountability for workers’ deaths to shoddy tire manufacturing practices that killed motorists. My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Guardian US and Politico Magazine, as well as on PBS NewsHour and Al Jazeera English’s “Fault Lines” program. I spent eight months looking into cases where intimate partners, children and bystanders were killed by suspects using guns they weren’t allowed to have under federal law and, in some cases, state law as well. We found more than 110 victims over a four-year period who were gunned down by abusers barred from having weapons under federal law. That number is almost certainly a vast undercount.
Among our findings: - Gun homicides by intimate partners soared 58% over the last decade, according to never-before-published FBI data analyzed for Reveal by James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. The pandemic has been an especially lethal period for abuse victims, gun homicides involving intimate partners rose a stunning 25% in 2020 compared with the previous year, to the highest level in almost three decades. - Many of these killings involve offenders who were prohibited from having guns, an eight-month Reveal investigation has found. From 2017 through 2020, Reveal identified at least 110 intimate partners and others who were fatally shot by offenders using weapons they weren’t allowed to possess under federal and, in some cases, state law. - The true numbers are unknown, neither the ATF nor any other federal agency tracks the number of people prohibited from possessing firearms who go on to kill their intimate partners.
Listen to our radio story on it. Read our investigation (in collaboration with The Guardian). Watch our documentary, which Reveal produced with Al Jazeera English’s “Fault Lines.” Help us investigate domestic violence shootings by sharing with us. You can also follow us for more on Twitter and Instagram.
That's a great question. There is some research suggesting that domestic violence rates are higher among police than the general population. This is an area we'd love to explore more. But I'm not aware of a comprehensive accounting of domestic abuse among police.
I'm curious because it doesn't explicitly state it in your post. Are these individuals who were and/or should have been banned from owning guns that were allowed to keep their already owned guns and used them to kill? Or simply individuals who were and/or should have been banned from owning guns and got them from some other source and then used them to kill?
Great question. Thanks very much. Our investigation focused on people who were convicted of felonies and misdemeanor domestic violence offenses that disqualified them from having a firearm. While some may have gotten their guns from other sources, some offenders had guns -- that were known to judges and law enforcement -- but police, prosecutors and judges never took these guns away. Then these abusers used their guns to kill their partners.
From 2017 through 2020, Reveal identified at least 110 intimate partners and others who were fatally shot by offenders using guns they weren’t allowed to possess under federal and, in some cases, state law.
Just jumping in here to reiterate that this reporting is ONGOING! If you want to help us keep reporting on domestic violence shootings that involved a prohibited possessor, tell us your story here: https://revealnews.org/article/help-us-investigate-domestic-violence-shootings/
Absolutely we'd love to add to our database of people who have been shot by domestic abusers so we can keep a spotlight trained on this public health crisis.
After falling for decades, domestic violence gun homicides hit a 26-year high last year. And the # of people who shot and killed their intimate partners last year jumped a whopping 25% in 2020 compared with the previous year.
Researchers say possible reasons include Covid-related lockdowns and the record # of gun sales last year.
How many people is that?
A total of 1,788 people were shot and killed by intimate partners last year, according to FBI data analyzed for Reveal by James Alan Fox, a criminologist and criminal justice professor at Northeastern University. Two-thirds of these victims were women.
First, I’d like to say thank you for what you do. Second, I’d like to ask does working these types of stories actually have any meaningful impact? I mean that sincerely, as I am always appreciative of journalists like you but it’s just disheartened to be always reading all the news articles and findings, yet it doesn’t seem that anything has or will really ever change gun laws enough that it will actually help.
Thank you very much for your question. Yes, these stories have meaningful impact. America's gun laws are a divisive issue. But our stories are crucial. Sometimes it requires sticking with a topic, as we plan to do with this series, to build momentum and spur change over time. We've briefed lawmakers in Congress, who hosted a screening of our documentary. Our reporting has been shared by Jon Stewart, who recently put a spotlight on domestic abusers and guns. We've also presented our findings to 50 gun control groups and organizations that combat domestic violence. Domestic violence advocacy organizations around the country have shared our reporting. And folks are lobbying for change in Congress
Not op, but going to defend her here: while you never know if it will have a large enough impact to change something, not publishing these kind of articles and not doing this research leaves you completely empty handed when you want to defend stricter regulation.
Also, something I've discovered during the reporting process is that there is a dearth of information when it comes to domestic violence homicides. One of our key findings: The federal government does not track the number of people killed by intimate partners who were legally barred from possessing firearms.
As researchers have told me, we need data to make informed policy decisions.
Since most these people were prohibited from having guns, do you think their immediate family (&spouse) were aware of this? Are you personally more in favor of a complete ban or more strict regulation?
Yes, in some cases we examined, victims of abuse were aware their abusers had a gun -- and reported that to police -- yet police, prosecutors and judges failed to take offenders' guns away. Then offenders used these guns to kill their partners. In one case in Alabama, a police chief returned the gun of a man facing a domestic violence charge. This man then used this gun to shoot his ex-girlfriend and her daughter.
Our reporting found that while we have federal and state laws on the books that prohibit felons and domestic abusers from possessing guns, around much of the country, these laws don't lay out specific procedures for offenders to relinquish their guns or have them seized. So there's little enforcement. It's an open secret that our gun laws operate on the "honor system," where we trust offenders to disarm themselves.
Why do you think more people aren’t aware of this issue? (For anyone looking for a good intro, Jon Stewart has a great piece on his new Apple show about guns specifically regarding domestic abuse etc)
Yes, here's a preview for anyone who would like to check out Jon Stewart's show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6KZY4msgUY
That's a great question and one I've struggled with. The number of intimate partner homicides is skyrocketing, but America is failing to keep guns away from abusers. Bystanders, children, police and others are also dying in these domestic violence related killings.
This is just awesome! What are some simple things people on the sidelines of this can do to help and support your work, and our friends, family and communities that are victims of this kind of awfulness?
Thank you very much! Great question.
I'd love to hear from you if you have ideas around other stories we should pursue around domestic violence and guns. Also, we have put out a call out (below). We're collecting stories from people who have been shot or know of someone who has been shot by an offender who was barred from possessing a gun. I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share your story here: https://revealnews.org/article/help-us-investigate-domestic-violence-shootings/
If you have a story idea to share, you can reach me at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
We aim to spur change -- and value your partnership in helping us bring stories to light.
Thank you very much everyone for your thoughtful questions. If you have a story to share, please feel free to reach out: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
How do the number of abusers who are in a law enforcement feild such as police or military compare to those that are not?
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