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Imperfect laws don't keep guns out of all abusers' hands

Despite increased attention to the problem of domestic violence and tougher laws both at the state and federal levels, the statistics regarding women who are killed by current or former husbands and boyfriends remain staggering. Many of these deaths involve guns.

While men aren't exempt from the scourge of domestic violence, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data, 80 percent of people fatally shot by romantic partners between 2006 and 2014 were female.

Of course, others can get caught in the middle of a violent situation. Children, parents other family members and friends are sometimes killed as well, either because they were in the vicinity, trying to intervene or perhaps were the target of a person consumed with anger.

Many states, including Massachusetts, have enacted laws to try to keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence crimes as well as those upon whom a protective order has been issued.

Massachusetts prohibits the purchase or possession of firearms by "family or household members" subject to a protective order. This can include spouses as well as romantic partners if the relationship is deemed "substantive." That, like many laws prohibiting gun possession by abusers, leaves what some call the "boyfriend loophole" -- allowing people in a non-cohabitating relationship with their victim to own guns.

Victims of domestic violence, with the help of their attorneys, can work to do everything possible to protect themselves and their families. If they aren't able to keep their abuser from having a gun, they can try to put other security measures in place so that they don't become yet another gun fatality.

Source: The Trace, "Once Every 16 Hours, An American Woman Is Fatally Shot by a Current or Former Romantic Partner," Jennifer Mascia, accessed March 21, 2017

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