Guns, Choking Common Elements in Many Domestic Violence Deaths


Arizona reported at least 101 domestic-violence-related deaths in the state in 2011. Of those, 59 involved guns. This year, reports the Arizona Republic, two recent incidents of domestic killings that claimed five victims each, each involving children, have dominated the news. Not halfway into 2012, at least 48 people have died; at least 31 of those were shot to death. The numbers for Arizona are consistent: roughly 100 a year, year after year.

When someone talks about domestic violence — and when experts study it — the focus is on a classic pattern in which a person, usually a man, eventually kills his partner. A landmark 2003 study by a team of international researchers, led by Jacquelyn Campbell at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and published in the National Institute of Justice Journal, compared two groups of battered women. One group consisted of 220 who had been killed by their partners; the other group consisted of 343 who had been abused but not killed. Battered women who have been threatened or assaulted with a gun — even once — are 20 times as likely as other battered women to be murdered. Those who have been choked are 10 times as likely to be killed — a statistic that also was a force behind a 2010 change in Arizona law that made attempted choking or strangulation a Class 4 felony. Previously, strangulation typically would had been charged as misdemeanor assault.

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