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After Graves County Tragedy, A Reminder That Kentucky Lawmakers Must Do More to Protect Women and Families

December 22, 2020

As reports emerge that the weekend shooting in Graves County that left a family of four dead appears to have been a triple murder-suicide, below are a few key points as you consider how to cover this tragedy:

1) Intimate partner violence is deadly for Kentucky women.
Between 2014 and 2018, 77 women were fatally shot by a partner in Kentucky. Intimate partner violence in the state is part of a nationwide issue: In an average month, at least 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner in the US. Women in the US are 21 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than women in peer nations.

2) The intersection of domestic violence and gun violence takes a heavy toll on children, too. 
For children under age 13 who are victims of gun homicides, 85 percent of those deaths occur in the home, and nearly a third of those deaths are connected to intimate partner or family violence. Data drawn from 16 states indicate that nearly two-thirds of child fatalities involving domestic violence were caused by guns.

3) The majority of gun deaths in Kentucky are suicides.
Kentucky has the 12th highest rate of gun suicide of any state in the country. Research on firearm suicide in the U.S. is available here.

4) Kentucky lawmakers can do more to prevent gun violence and protect women and families.
Despite a gun homicide rate in Kentucky that increased 63% between 2009 and 2018, lawmakers have failed to act to protect families and communities. When they return for the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers can start to address gun violence — including its toll on women and families and gun suicides — by passing:

  •  Domestic violence legislation that disarms  domestic abusers.
  •  Extreme risk legislation that allows family members or law enforcement to ask a court to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns. 

Suggestions for journalists on covering gun suicide are available here. If you are struggling and need to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always open: 800-273-8255.

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]