- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - FBI records show that Indiana reported more than 140 domestic violence-related fatal shootings from 2006 through 2014, although the number is likely higher because some of the state’s law enforcement agencies didn’t report such data.

The Associated Press analyzed FBI records for that period and found Indiana had 143 fatal shootings of spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners.

Nearly 80 percent of those victims were women.

Indiana is considered a gun-friendly state. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives the state a D- and ranks its gun laws 23rd in the nation in terms of toughness.

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence executive director Laura Berry says lawmakers could take several steps to restrict Hoosiers with a history of domestic violence from possessing guns.

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THE NUMBERS:

During the nine years examined, the fewest reported domestic violence-related fatal shootings happened in 2014, with 13. The most were in 2007, with 21, and the average was about 16 per year. However, the FBI says the number of Indiana police agencies that provide it with such crime data varies from year to year.

Nationally, 6,235 people were killed in such attacks during the nine years examined, with current wives and girlfriends accounting for 75 percent of the victims.

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THE VICTIMS:

Nearly 80 percent - 111 - of the Indiana victims were women. Sixty were girlfriends of the assailants, 41 were wives, nine were ex-wives and one was a common-law wife. Of the male victims, 15 were boyfriends, 13 were husbands, three were ex-husbands and one was a common-law husband.

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WHERE THEY DIED:

More than a quarter of the victims - 38 - were killed in Indianapolis, Indiana’s most populous city. Seven were killed in Fort Wayne, the state’s second-largest city, and seven others were killed in Gary. Another Lake County city, Hammond, had six domestic violence-related fatal shootings. The remaining 85 killings were spread throughout the state, with no other municipality reporting more than three such killings during the 9-year period.

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STATE LAWS:

Indiana’s most recently passed law aimed at curbing fatal domestic violence shootings was enacted in 2014. It states that when an individual’s domestic violence conviction is expunged, it does not immediately restore that person’s right to possess a firearm.

Federal law bars felons convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse crimes and individuals subject to permanent protective orders from buying or owning guns. But Indiana law allows people with a domestic violence conviction to petition a court to have his or her right to possess a firearm restored five years after his or her conviction.

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ADVOCATES:

Laura Berry, the executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says state lawmakers could take several steps that could reduce Indiana’s fatal domestic violence shootings. For one, she says they could impose a permanent ban on people with domestic violence convictions from possessing firearms. Berry says “five years doesn’t change anything” if someone harbors rage and resentment against a current or former partner.

Berry also says that while Indiana law authorizes police to remove firearms they might see while responding to domestic violence or family violence calls, such confiscations rarely happen. And state law doesn’t require such weapons to be confiscated.

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