Some years ago I heard an interesting gun-control argument that I've never seen repeated. It goes like this:

A (male) and B(female) are a married or otherwise cohabiting couple. They are arguing intensely about something.

Eventually, B storms off upstairs. A gets the idea that she is heading for the bedside table where the gun is kept.

He chases her up the stairs. It develops into a violent fight, each convinced the other will kill them if they get to the gun first. It's kill or be killed.

Typically the man wins, gets the gun and shoots her. Occasionally, vice versa.

Now, I'm sure this MUST have happened in the US, but the claim was that it's a shockingly common occurrence, hundreds or even thousands of times every year, one of the largest single types of gun deaths.

I've tried searching the internet for any reference but have found nothing. Has anyone heard of this phenomenon and is there any evidence that it's very common?


Following the comments, I feel the need to clarify what I’m asking.

1) Although I can’t cite the source, I can fully remember the content of the claim. It was presented as fact.

2) It was likely to be one of the left-leaning British comedians from the 80s/90s – maybe Ben Elton or Alexei Sayle (before Ben Elton forgot he was left-wing).

3) It wasn’t a joke but was certainly presented ironically. The tone was, “Aren’t Americans stupid? In Britain, couples argue all the time but they don’t kill each other. The mere presence of a gun has taken a normal marital dispute and turned it into murder.”

4) I’m not talking about domestic violence. If a man is violent toward his partner, he has many ways of killing her other than using a gun. I am talking about the very specific set of circumstances where the couple would not have even come to blows if there were no gun in the house. The implication was that a normal marital disagreement which should have blown-over, turned to disaster and only because the Man suddenly (wrongly) feared for his own life.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Oddthinking Dec 17 '15 at 0:57

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  • 2
    It is an interesting argument, but to be a good question here you should show that it is notable which basically means show a reference to where someone else claims it. I hope you can and I'd like to see an answer. – matt_black Dec 16 '15 at 20:01
  • This Guardian article almost contains the claim - it says that gun possession makes people more likely to escalate disputes, more likely to judge themselves to be in danger from guns and makes women more likely to be killed in domestic disputes; but it doesn't explicitly link these items together. Very, very close though – user568458 Dec 16 '15 at 22:02
  • Also very close: "a large proportion of [gun homicides] occurring during hostile arguments over domestic problems. These arguments escalate and, in the presence of a gun, often lead to fatal consequences ... the presence of a gun was a strong risk factor for homicide in the home" – user568458 Dec 16 '15 at 22:06
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    As for the simple version of the claim in the question title, that definitely has notability - for example, here's a quote from the US Supreme Court - "Domestic violence often escalates in severity over time and the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood that it will escalate to homicide. ‘All too often,’ ... ‘the only difference between a battered woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun". – user568458 Dec 16 '15 at 22:46
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    @Lefty: Let's choose one of the claims that are notable, and go with that, rather than trying to prove or disprove a half-remembered joke from last century. – Oddthinking Dec 17 '15 at 0:58

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