The latest analysis of state-level homicide data shows a sharp increase in the rate at which women were slain by single men between 2014 and 2015 despite an overall 20-year decline, according to an annual report released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) in September.
The 20th annual publication of When Men Murder Women analyzed the most recent Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) data submitted to the FBI, offering a breakdown of cases in the ten states with the highest rates of female homicides committed by men in 2015. Alaska had the highest femicide rate, followed by Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, and Missouri. VPC notes that data from Florida and Alabama are missing, and data received from Illinois is incomplete.
The study, which only examined instances involving one female victim and one male offender, found that 1,686 females were murdered by males in the U.S. in 2015.
“This is the exact scenario—the lone male attacker and the vulnerable woman—that is often used to promote gun ownership among women,” write the authors, zooming in on VPC’s main target: gun laws. For 2015, firearms, and especially handguns, were the weapon most commonly used by men to murder women.
The report also notes the findings of a 2003 study from California which showed that while two-thirds of women who get a handgun do so for for protection, “purchasing a handgun provides no protection against homicide among women and is associated with an increase in their risk for intimate partner homicide.”
Editor’s note: According to the Gun Violence Archive, out of 46,597 incidents of gun violence so far this year, only 1,518 incidents were “defensive use” of a firearm– roughly equal to the number of accidental shootings, which numbered 1,511.
Here are highlights from VPC’s analysis of 2015 data on women slain by men:
- For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 93 percent of female victims (1,450 out of 1,551) were murdered by a male they knew.
- Fourteen times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,450 victims) than were killed
by male strangers (101 victims).
- For victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (928) of female homicide victims were wives or
intimate acquaintances of their killers.12
- There were 266 women shot and killed by either their husband or intimate acquaintance during the
course of an argument.
- Nationwide, for homicides in which the weapon could be determined (1,522), more female homicides were committed with firearms (55 percent) than with any other weapon. Knives and other cutting instruments accounted for 20 percent of all female murders, bodily force 11 percent, and murder by blunt object six percent. Of the homicides committed with firearms, 69 percent were committed with handguns.
- In 84 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, homicides were not related
to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) turned 23 this year.
Victoria Mckenzie is deputy editor of The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcome.