Violence Policy Center Ranks Tennessee Sixth in the Nation for Women Murdered by Men in annual report: “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data”
Sometimes moving up in rankings is a good thing. However, when the criteria is the number of women murdered by men in your state, being in the top 10 is not where you want to be. Sadly, Tennessee has moved from 10th to 6th since last year’s report was released.
More than 1,600 women were murdered by men in 2013 and the most common weapon used was a gun, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data.
The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
This annual VPC report is being released in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. This year’s study applies to 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, and includes a ranking of the top 10 states for women being murdered by men.
Last year, Tennessee ranked 10th. This year, we are ranked 6th (tied with Oklahoma.)
For each state in the top 10, the VPC provides a breakdown of age, race, most common weapons, victim/offender relationship, and circumstance.
From last year’s 2014 report which used data from 2012:
Total women murdered by men in Tennessee: 53
AGE: 1 victim (2 percent) was less than 18 and 7 victims (13 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 40 years old
RACE: Out of 53 female homicide victims, 1 was Asian or Pacific Islander, 21 were black and 31 were white.
MOST COMMON WEAPONS: For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 50 percent of female victims (24 out of 48) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 63 percent (15 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 8 females killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 8 females killed by a blunt object, and 6 females killed by bodily force.
VICTIM/OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP: For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 100 percent of female victims (47 out of 47) were murdered by someone they knew. No female victims were killed by strangers. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 68 percent (32 victims) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Among the female intimates who were murdered, 63 percent (20 victims) were killed with guns; 60 percent of these (12 victims) were shot and killed with handguns.
CIRCUMSTANCES: For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 97 percent (34 out of 35) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 79 percent (27 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
From this year’s 2015 report which used data from 2013:
Total women murdered by men in Tennessee: 55
AGE: For homicides in which the age of the victim was reported (54 homicides), 3 victims (6 percent) were less than 18 years old and 2 victims (4 percent) were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 39 years old.
RACE: Out of 55 female homicide victims, 33 were white, 21 were black, and 1 was Asian or Pacific Islander.
MOST COMMON WEAPONS: For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 63 percent of female victims (32 out of 51) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 59 percent (19 victims) were killed with handguns. There was 1 female killed with a knife or other cutting instrument, 6 females killed by a blunt object, and 8 females killed by bodily force.
VICTIM/OFFENDER RELATIONSHIP: For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 98 percent of female victims (50 out of 51) were murdered by someone they knew. One female victim was killed by a stranger. Of the victims who knew their offenders, 70 percent (35 victims) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Among the female intimates who were murdered, 60 percent (21 victims) were killed with guns; 67 percent of these (14 victims) were shot and killed with handguns.
CIRCUMSTANCE: For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 95 percent (36 out of 38) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 67 percent (24 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.
Of note is the fact that not only did the number victims increase (53 to 55), the percentage of women being killed with a gun increased. In 2012, 50% of Tennessee women killed by men were shot with a gun. In 2013, 63% of Tennessee women killed by men were shot with a gun.
Also of note is the breakdown by race. Nationally, black women are disproportionately impacted by fatal domestic violence. Not so in Tennessee, however, where only 38% of the women murdered by men are black, and 60% are white.
And despite popular misconceptions about “bad guys” and “criminals” being a danger to women, the VPC report reveals what researchers already understand: the vast majority of of women who murdered in our country (and here in Tennessee) are killed by someone they know and are very rarely related to the commission of any other felony.
Everyone of the top 10 states highlighted in the VPC report receive an “F” from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. (South Carolina, Alaska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Vermont) The grades are based on the Law Center’s evaluation of their gun laws.
Although official data has yet to be compiled for 2015, we can look to recent Tennessee news stories to see examples of domestic violence shootings, most of which result in fatalities, and many of which end with the shooter taking his own life after gunning down his victim. By simply using google to search, it is easy to find examples.
September 2015 – Memphis – A 52 year old man shot a woman and has been charged with aggravated assault and domestic violence as well as second degree murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun.
June 2015 – Martin – A 31 year old man in Henderson County shot his 27 year old wife multiple times before turning the gun on himself. Two small children were on the porch of the home during the shooting.
Unfortunately, Tennessee is deserving of its F grade. We are 9th in the country for accidental shootings, 9th in the country for gun homicides, 12th in the country for suicide by firearm, and we’ve gone from 10th to 6th for murders of women by men.
“Too many Tennessee women are being killed each year and the majority of them are being killed by guns,” said Beth Joslin Roth, Policy Director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “Numerous studies have shown that women living with a gun in the home are much more likely to be murdered than women with no gun in the home. These are not opinions, they’re facts. Women are far more likely to killed by someone they know than by a stranger. An argument can quickly turn into a homicide if a loaded gun is nearby, leaving children without a mother and families devastated.”
The Safe Tennessee Project continues to identify and form coalitions with local and state organizations focused on domestic violence and will continue our efforts to urge our legislature to pass laws that will do a better job of keeping women safe.