By Haley Pritchett

INDIANAPOLIS— In America, one in three women have experienced physical violence by a partner. 

Four and a half million have been threatened with a firearm, and of those women, a million of them were shot at. 

The risk of homicide goes up by 500% when a firearm is involved. 

These facts were released in a report by the Domestic Violence Network, an organization based in central Indiana, as an attempt to grasp lawmakers’ and the public’s attention.

Guns, loopholes in laws exacerbate domestic violence problem, study finds

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, has been working unsuccessfully for years to get a law passed that prohibits people who have been convicted of a domestic abuse case from bearing arms. File photo by Bryan Wells,

Kelly McBride, executive director of DVN, said she is not looking for new laws to be created; she is just looking for the laws in existence to be enforced while closing up loopholes.

More specifically, she is referring to gun laws. For instance, only individuals with certain relationships to their abuser, such as marriage, can currently request the abuser's gun or guns to be removed. That presents challenges for victims in relationships outside those described in the law. 

The monitoring of gun removal is another issue. The DVN requests that law enforcement get more involved and not leave it up to the current honor system, trusting individuals to turn in their guns when asked. 

On a single day in September 2018, the Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence, conducting an audit of 47 Indiana domestic violence programs, found more than 2,000 people had been served, more than 600 hotline calls answered, and more than 200 requests for help denied due to lack of resources. Multiple surveys and studies have shown numbers spike further since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, who authored a domestic violence bill last session,  says one of the biggest issues domestic violence victims face is being separated from their abuser when bail is posted too low. 

“[Victims] call the police, their spouse gets arrested, but then they are back home within a few minutes, and they’re even more angry when they get home than they were when the police took them away,” he said. 

Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, has been working for years to get a law passed that prohibits people who have been convicted of a domestic abuse case from bearing arms. He says the Republican supermajority, however, prevents bills regarding gun control from ever being read. 

His main concern is the lack of the abuser’s ability to make decisions in emotionally charged situations, especially around loved ones. He said when you combine this with firearms, the results are deadly. 

“The most emotional situation is when you are involved with people you love and people you interact with on a continuous basis,” he said. 

Haley Pritchett is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify under what circumstances a domestic violence victim can request their abuser's firearms to be removed by police.

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