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Graduate Research

Examining Methods of Killing in Canada: Are Women More at Risk of Firearms-Related Homicide than Men?

Lead Researcher: Angelika Zecha

Photo of Angelika Zecha.

Firearms present a significant risk to the health and safety of Canadian women in violent relationships. Literature suggests that firearms are a frequently used weapon in the commission of intimate partner homicide (Beattie et al. 2018; Dawson et al. 2009; Bunge 2002; Brozowski 2004; Vaillancourt 2009). However, the relationship between gender and method of killing remains an understudied area of research in Canada. Most of the research on firearms-related homicide victimization is based in the United States and primarily focuses on male victims. While men are more likely than women to be killed by a firearm in non-intimate homicides, the opposite may be true for intimate partner homicides.

This research study aims to address this gap and investigates the role of firearms in the homicides of female and male victims. The study hypothesizes that women will be more at risk of firearms-related homicides than men in particular contexts. Specifically, this research considers whether the role of firearms is conditioned by victim-offender relationship (i.e., intimate partner and non-intimate partner), place (i.e., rural and urban), and gender differences. Additionally, this project answers the calls made by scholars (Pruitt 2007; Matsuda 1991; Sandberg 2013) to incorporate the experiences of rural women in violent victimization research.

Conducted by Angelika Zecha, this study analyzes 38 years of homicide data from a large Canadian jurisdiction to examine the effects that gender, victim-offender-relationship, and geography have on firearms-related homicide victimization. Preliminary results suggest homicides in rural areas are significantly more likely to involve firearms than homicides in urban areas. Logistic regression quantitative analyses demonstrate that rural intimate partner homicides are more likely to be firearms-related than urban intimate partner homicides. These findings have implications for the development of risk assessment tools and gender-based prevention measures for firearms-related homicides, especially for women living in rural communities of Canada.


Beattie, Sara, David, Jean-Davis, and Joel Roy. 2018. “Homicide in Canada, 2017.” Ottawa:       Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Catalogue no. 85-002-X).

Brzozowski, Jodie-Anne. 2004. “Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2004.” Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (Catalogue no. 85-224-XIE).

Bunge, Valerie Pottie. 2002. “National trends in intimate partner homicides, 1974-2000.” Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Catalogue no. 85-002-XIE). Retrieved from

Dawson, Myrna, Bunge, Valerie, and Thierno Balde. 2009. “National trends in intimate partner homicides: Explaining declines in Canada, 1976 to 2001.” Violence Against Women 15(3):276-306.

Matsuda, Maria. (1991). Beside My Sister. Facing the Enemy: Legal Theory Out of Coalition. Stanford Law Review 43(6):1183-1192.

Pruitt, Lisa R. 2007. “Toward a feminist theory of the rural.” Utah Law Review 2:421-488.

Sandberg, Linn. 2013. “Backward, Dumb and Violent Hillbillies? Rural Geographies and Intersectional Studies on Intimate Partner Violence.” Affilia 28(4):350-365.

Vaillancourt, Roxan. 2009. “Gender Differences in Police-reported Violent Crime in Canada, 2008.” Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. (Catalogue no. 85F0033M, no. 24).

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