Faint police lights in background

Berg and Peek-Asa Explore the "Boyfriend Loophole" in Recent Publication


Mark Berg, director, and Corinne Peek-Asa, distinguished research fellow, of the Crime and Justice Policy Research program, published a study examining intimate partner homicides and what’s called the “boyfriend loophole.” The study was published in the Journal of Prevention and was co-authored by Hannah Rochford, graduate research assistant at the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center. 

Intimate partner homicides (IPH) are a risk in relationships with a history of violence. Policies intending to reduce IPHs by limiting firearm access for those with a history of intimate partner violence (IPV) have been enacted in certain states. However, some states fail to extend IPV-related firearm related protections to dating partners, which is referred to as the “boyfriend loophole,” or “partner loophole, in this study. 

By examining trends in the National Violent Death Reporting System data, the study assessed the relationship between intimate partner homicides among unmarried victims and state partner loopholes. 

Some of the findings included noticeable differences in the age and racial compositions of the groups when victim demographics were compared to their vulnerability to the partner loophole. Closing a partner loophole was associated with significantly fewer expected IPHs amongst unmarried white victims (-27.7%, p = 0.01). However, this relationship was not observed for unmarried victims of color, suggesting that closing partner loopholes may be important, but will not be independently sufficient to equitably reduce the burden of IPH. 

Read the full study and findings here.

"Policies that close 'boyfriend loopholes' may offer important protections, but may not reduce intimate partner homicides equitably" "The 'boyfriend loophole' is the exclusion of unmarried dating partners from IPV-related firearm protections" "Analyses using the National Violent Death Reporting System suggest results vary by race" "Loophole closures were not associated with intimate partner homicide rates" "Other results suggest closing loopholes for those subject to protective orders may be important"