Intimate partner violence and gun violence are inextricably linked, impacting millions of women, families, and communities across the country. New York State has long been a leader in providing strong criminal and civil protections for domestic violence victims. The State has several laws, including the NY SAFE Act, designed to protect survivors from the escalated risk of gun violence and provide resources to domestic violence victims and their families.
Facts and Stats
- Access to firearms radically increases lethality risk in situations of domestic abuse. Abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their partners.
- Every month, an average of 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner in the United States. Black women are twice as likely to be fatally shot by an intimate partner when compared to white women.
- 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner.
- In 2020, a firearm was used in nearly half—over 45%—of all intimate partner homicides outside of New York City. Statewide, firearms were used in 35% of all intimate partner homicides.
- Since its establishment in 2012, 17 of the 25 cases reviewed by the NYS Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team involved access to firearms.
Note: The statistics cited above are taken from the following reports and publications: Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study, published in the American Journal of Public Health (2003); Guns and Violence Against Women: America's Uniquely Lethal Intimate Partner Violence Problem, published by Everytown for Gun Safety (2019); Domestic Homicide in New York State 2020, published by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (2021).
Enhanced Protections for Domestic Violence Cases
- New York provides enhanced services and resources to victims of domestic and gender-based violence, including a program that maintains the confidentiality of victims' residential information.
- Under the Safe Home and Families Act of 2020, Law enforcement responding to a family offense may take temporary custody of any firearm (and related license) that is in plain sight or discovered pursuant to a lawful search; and requires a police officer to take temporary custody of any weapon (and related license) in possession of a person arrested for, or suspected of, committing a family offense.
- Since 2012, the New York Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence has overseen the state-level Fatality Review Team, which reviews and makes recommendations concerning domestic violence-related deaths and near deaths.
- Courts must suspend or revoke a state pistol permit, when issuing an order of protection or addressing the willful violation of an order if it finds a substantial risk that the individual may use or threaten to use a firearm unlawfully against the person for whose protection the order is issued.
- Individuals who own a firearm and live with someone who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence-related misdemeanor, involuntarily committed, or is under an order of protection, must ensure the firearm is safely stored and secured.
- Certain misdemeanors are elevated to felonies when they are committed against a family member if the offenses were committed by an individual with a prior conviction, within the past five years, of an enumerated offense against a family member.
- Judges must consider the history of use and possession of firearms, as well as current or prior violations of an order of protection, when determining bail or release of defendants charged with a domestic violence offense.
- While most misdemeanors and Class E felonies are subject to Desk Appearance Tickets only, law enforcement has the discretion to make a custodial appearance in certain cases involving domestic or sexual violence, or when orders of protection are likely to be issued.
- Prosecution and courts must file reports on certain misdemeanor crimes when the defendant and victim were members of the same family or household and specify the nature of the relationship, to assure that these convictions are included in databases of those prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms.
New Protections Under New York Law
- New York’s “Red Flag” Law allows for the filing of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which can prevent an individual who shows signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing any kind of firearm. This law was strengthened in 2022—health care practitioners who have examined an individual within the last six months can now seek these orders and police and district attorneys must file ERPO petitions when they have acquired credible information that an individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others.
- New York allows individuals who are dating partners to obtain Orders of Protection.
- Firearms sales are restricted for those under 21.
- Purchasing ammunition will now require a background check. The state has also bolstered storage requirements for guns.
- Effective September 2022, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services will review permit holders’ records monthly for criminal convictions, criminal indictments, and orders of protection.
- Many locations in New York State are now deemed sensitive locations where firearms are prohibited, and illegally possessing a firearm in those locations, such as schools, churches, and hospitals constitutes a class E felony.
IF YOU ARE UNSAFE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP, REACH OUT TO AN ADVOCATE ANY TIME, DAY OR NIGHT.
New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline Text: 844.997.2121 | Call: 800.942.6906 | Chat: opdv.ny.gov Free. Confidential. 24/7. Available in most languages.