- According to a 2016 study by Erin Grinshteyn of the University of San Francisco and David Hemenway of Harvard in the American Journal of Medicine, of all the women in developed countries who were fatally shot in 2010, 90% were from the United States.
- A 2003 study by Daniel Webster of Johns Hopkins and his colleagues found that intimate partner homicide increases fivefold with the presence of a firearm.
- An earlier 1992 study by Arthur Kellerman and James Mercy concluded “[m]ore than twice as many women are killed with a gun used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are murdered by strangers using guns, knives, or any other means.”
- Researcher John Lott contends the real risk factor behind disparity between the U.S. and other developed countries in female firearm homicides is “whether the attacker has a violent criminal record, not whether a gun is owned in the home.”
- Lott further argues regarding intimate partner homicide: “what isn’t explained here is that intimate acquaintances include crime involving prostitutes and johns or pimps” and “[b]eing a prostitute is simply a more dangerous occupation than most women engage in, and thus women can reduce their risks by not engaging in this type of work.”
- In 2019, the FBI identified only three women who were killed in homicides related to prostitiution and commercialized vice. In 2014, the year Lott made the claim, nine females were victims of sex work-related homicides.
- A December 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the CDC of 34 states, four California counties, and Washington, D.C., found 21 male and 28 female homicides relating to sex work in 2017, representing under 1% of all homicides that year.
In a May 29, 2014 column in the National Review, Lott attacked a tweet by Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action. Watt’s tweet read, “84% of female firearm homicides in 25 countries are in US.” Lott replied, “It is hard to see how Moms Demand Action could even make this comparison across all countries. Data from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) allows you to break down murders either by the sex of the victim or by whether firearms are used, but it doesn’t allow users to identify both these categories simultaneously.”
Media Matters, a media watchdog organization, posted a response to Lott’s article the same day, explaining “the study didn’t use UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime] data, but instead used data gathered by the World Health Organization.” Media Matters also quoted from a study in the Journal of Trauma which concluded “[m]ore than twice as many women are killed with a gun used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are murdered by strangers using guns, knives, or any other means.”
Lott replied the same day in a blog post on his website. In response to the Journal of Trauma conclusion, Lott writes:
“What isn’t explained here is that intimate acquaintances include crime involving prostitutes and johns or pimps. On the more general point, the real risk factor is whether the attacker has a violent criminal record, not whether a gun is owned in the home.”
“UPDATE: Possibly some context is needed here. One of the points of Moms Demand Action’s claim is to make people fearful of guns in the home. The response that I made is that many of these deaths are not involving events between what most people are thinking about regarding ‘their husbands or intimate acquaintances.’ Being a prostitute is simply a more dangerous occupation than most women engage in, and thus women can reduce their risks by not engaging in this type of work.”
Contrary to Lott’s claim, sex work-related homicides are relatively rare in the U.S. In 2014, the FBI identified a total of 19 homicides related to sex work and commercialized vice out of 11,961 total homicides. Ten of the victims were male, and nine were female. Six of the 19 homicides were committed with a firearm and the relationship between the perpetrator and victim was classified as “acquaintances” in seven cases, “strangers” in six cases, and the relationship was unknown in six cases.
The most recent data available is from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting published in 2019. The FBI identified only 12 homicides related to sex work and commercialized vice in 2019. Seven victims were killed with firearms and only three of the 12 victims were female. One victim was the killer’s wife, four victims were acquaintances, three were strangers, and four were unknown.
It is important to note that while the FBI data is incomplete, the missing data is too small to make Lott’s claim possible. According to the CDC, 2,317 women were the victims of firearm homicides in 2018. In 2014, 1,722 women were firearm homicide victims.
A December 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report of 34 states, four California counties, and Washington, D.C., found 21 male and 28 female homicides relating to sex work in 2017, representing under 1% of all homicides that year.
John Lott, “Bloomberg’s Bogus Gun-Control Numbers,” National Review Online, May 29, 2014
Timothy Johnson, “Gun Researcher John Lott Relies On Falsehoods To Downplay Gun Violence Threat To Women,” Media Matters, May 29, 2014
John Lott, “Media Matters gets things wrong again: ‘Gun Researcher John Lott Relies On Falsehoods To Downplay Gun Violence Threat To Women,’’ John Lott’s Website, May 29, 2014
Arthur Kellermann and James Mercy, “Men, women, and murder: gender-specific differences in rates of fatal violence and victimization,” Journal of Trauma, 1992
FBI, “2014 Crime in the United States: Expanded Homicide Data Table 10”, Uniform Crime Reports (accessed Jan. 7, 2020)
FBI, “2019 Crime in the United States: Expanded Homicide Data Table 10”, Uniform Crime Report (accessed Jan. 7, 2020)
Centers for Disease Control (U.S.), & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.). “Surveillance for Violent Deaths — National Violent Death Reporting System, 34 States, Four California Counties, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, 2017,”Morbidity and mortality weekly report: MMWR, Surveillance Summaries, Atlanta, Ga.: U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Center for Disease Control, December 4, 2020, 69(8); Table 5.
Webster, D., Campbell, J. C., Koziol-McLain, J., Block, C., Campbell, D., Curry, M. A., Gary, F., Glass, N., McFarlane, J., Sachs, C., Sharps, P., Ulrich, Y., Wilt, S. A., Manganello, J., Xu, X., Schollenberger, J., Frye, V., & Laughon, K. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: results from a multisite case control study. American journal of public health, 93(7), 1089–1097. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.93.7.1089
Kellermann, A. L., & Mercy, J. A. (1992). Men, women, and murder: gender-specific differences in rates of fatal violence and victimization. The Journal of trauma, 33(1), 1–5.
Grinshteyn, E., & Hemenway, D. (2015, November 6). Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-income OECD Countries, 2010. Clinical Research Study, 129(3), P266-273. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.025