Three Essays on Domestic Violence Related Firearms Regulations in the United States

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Firearms regulation rarely passes in the United States due to the strength of the gun rights lobby. However, in the past several years, policymakers in traditionally pro-gun states have passed laws that restrict domestic abusers’ access to firearms. The success of these policies suggests that domestic violence and firearms regulations may represent a rare opportunity for bipartisan agreement in this contentious policy area. This dissertation examines domestic violence related firearms regulations from three angles. The first chapter presents a qualitative comparative case study analysis of domestic violence and firearms legislation to understand how these policies overcame robust barriers to passage. The results demonstrate that the prominence of domestic violence prevention advocates and “strategic absence” of larger gun control groups in the policy process increased the probability of the legislation’s passage. The second chapter leverages an original survey experiment involving 1,000 participants in the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES) to test whether framing gun regulation as domestic violence prevention instead of gun control can increase support for the legislation. While I find that framing does not impact respondents’ support for a new law, women are more likely to support the policy than men. Importantly, this result remains significant after controlling for political party, suggesting that women’s collective action could bring about bipartisan cooperation on some gun regulations. The third and final chapter demonstrates the importance of preemptive gun regulations for reducing intimate partner homicide through an analysis of homicide data from the North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System. Together, this collection of studies sheds light on the politics and design of domestic violence and firearms regulation and creates a foundation for future research in this important policy area.






Smucker, Sierra (2018). Three Essays on Domestic Violence Related Firearms Regulations in the United States. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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