Firearm Removal, Judicial Decision-Making, and Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Mikaela Wallin, Alesha Durfee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Firearms in situations of domestic violence (DV) are particularly lethal. Although firearms present a public health concern nationally, some states, such as Arizona, have especially high rates of intimate partner homicide (IPH). Despite empirical findings that state-level firearm removal policies significantly reduce rates of IPH, little is known about the factors shaping judicial decisions to implement these provisions at the local level. This study analyzes petitioner and judicial decision-making about firearm removal in cases of civil DV protection orders (POs). We use a sample of 580 PO filings from the DV protection order database (Durfee 2019). Petitioners request firearm removal in 49.6% of PO petitions, and judges include state-level firearm removal as a provision in 31.0% of POs that are granted. Of the 580 petitioners who request firearm removal and receive an issued PO, judges grant firearm removal 50.1% of the time. Findings reveal that judges are more likely to grant firearm removal when PO petitions contain mentions of physical violence, threats to kill the petitioner, and allegations that the respondent owns a gun, controlling for all demographics, incidence characteristics, and allegations about the respondent. Furthermore, judges are less likely to grant firearm removal when petitioners allege that the respondent has mental health issues. The results are discussed within the context of judicial discretion and U.S. firearm legislation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalViolence and Gender
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • domestic violence
  • firearms
  • judicial decision-making
  • protection orders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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