On Tuesday, The Violence Policy Center released their most recent study When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2016 Homicide Data. The 2018 report analyzes data from 2016, the most recent year for which all data is available, and covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR).

In the 2018 report, Tennessee is ranked 5th in the nation for women murdered by men.  The state was previously ranked 4th.  For the last nine years, Tennessee has ranked in the top ten.

“The results of this study are consistent with previous years, and show that women are most likely to be murdered with a gun by a man they know, most often a current or former intimate partner,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “The report is a powerful reminder of the importance of strengthening our state’s firearm dispossession laws and why Congress must renew the Violence Against Women Act.”

The Violence Against Women Act places critical emphasis on preventing gun violence and removing firearms from domestic abusers. It is set to expire at the end September.

The presence of a firearm can turn emotional and physical abuse into a deadly domestic violence shooting. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide for women by 500%.

Unfortunately, loopholes in Tennessee’s firearm laws make it harder to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.

“Under current state law, a domestic violence offender is required to dispossess their firearms, either turning them over to law enforcement, selling them to a licensed dealer, or turning them over to a third party,” Roth explained. “But, there is no mechanism to insure offender compliance. We’re relying on the honor system with these violent offenders. We are currently working on legislation to close this dangerous loophole. Our state must make protecting women a priority.”

Nationally and in Tennessee, the majority of these homicides are not related to the commission of any other felony. Most involved arguments between the victim and the offender. Domestic violence and domestic violence shootings happen in urban and rural areas, and across all demographics.

In just the last two weeks, there have been at least two fatal domestic violence shootings in Tennessee:

September 14, 2018 – Crossville
A man fatally shot a woman and a man outside a school bus garage in Cumberland County before turning the gun on himself. The police describe this as domestic incident. The woman was the shooter’s wife. The shooter survived and has been charged with two counts of first degree murder.

September 9, 2018 – Manchester
James McCoy, 54,  shot his wife Lisa McCoy multiple times in the head and then attempted to dismember her body by cutting off her legs. The couple married in 2014. He has been charged first degree murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and domestic violence.

In some cases, domestic violence shootings take the form of murder suicides. Between May 12th and June 6th, there were six firearm murder suicides in Tennessee resulting in the death of 14 individuals:

June 6, 2018 – Mt. Juliet
A Mt. Juliet woman was reportedly shot and killed by her husband, who then killed himself hours later. The two were arguing about their child’s birthday party.  Both of the couple’s children were present. The mother took the children inside the home when the argument began.  When she came back outside, her husband shot her.

May 28, 2018 – Murfreesboro
Sean Ganey, 29, shot his wife, Cassidy Ganey; her stepmother, Shelly Lorenz-Adair; and her father, Kenny Adair, and then himself. A handgun was found at the scene beside the bodies.  Deputies had been called to the home Friday and had taken Sean Ganey to a hospital after he expressed suicidal thoughts. A child was present in the home around the time of the shooting but is safe.

May 21, 2018 – Paris
40-year-old Demarrio Borum killed 29-year-old Jessica Jones.  When police responded to a shots fired call at a home, they found Borum in the back yard with a gun. He put the weapon to his head and threatened to kill himself.  He then went inside the home, refused to speak with officers, and fatally shot himself.

May 20, 2018 – Chattanooga
Chattanooga Police found 48-year-old Kimberly Williams in a parking lot, deceased from a gunshot wound.  Nearby, they found Frederick Tragressor in a vehicle suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Police determined that Tragressor shot Williams and then shot himself. Williams worked as a resident assistant where cared for people with Alzheimer’s.

May 16, 2018 – Murfreesboro
After responding to a 911 call, authorities made contact with 47-year-old Anthony Gaunichaux, who had his wife, 36-year-old Amanda Gaunichaux, and their 2-year-old son inside the home. Anthony Gaunichaux placed the couple’s son outside the home and then fatally shot his wife before taking his own life. Amanda Gaunichaux was a heart nurse practitioner at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital for eight years.

May 12, 2018 – Townsend
The deaths of a former University of Tennessee professor and his lawyer wife, who were found dead in their home Saturday, are consistent with a murder-suicide.  As officers responded to a welfare check after receiving word of a person in the home with a weapon, they heard a gunshot.  Kenneth Allan Jacobs, former director of the UT School of Music’s composition program and his wife, attorney Melinda Howes Jacobs, both died from fatal gunshot wounds.


When it comes to keeping women safe from abusers, gun laws matter

Of all the states in the top 10, all but two (Delaware and Maryland) were given a D or F by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and rank in the top 15 states for firearm deaths.

Of all the states in the top 10, all but three (Delaware, Nevada, and Maryland) allow offenders to turn firearms over to a third party.


A number of states do not have a third party option. Some states allow the offender to sell their firearms to a dealer with a federal firearms license (FFL) or to surrender them to law enforcement, while other states simply require that the firearms be surrendered to law enforcement.

States where offenders must surrender to law enforcement or peace officer only
(cannot surrender to third party OR sell firearms to a licensed dealer):

States where offenders must surrender to law enforcement or licensed dealer
(cannot surrender to third party):

For a summary of Tennessee domestic violence shootings so far this year, click here.

For a summary of academic research on the relationship between firearms and domestic violence, click here.