Research Explores Gun, Domestic Violence

Hannah Anderson


Editor’s note: This year, 76 Hawks are participating in the Summer Scholars program, which allows students to engage in faculty-mentored research, creative writing, the fine and the performing arts, and other scholarly endeavors during the summer months. Throughout the summer, the SJU news team will highlight some of the projects.

Gun violence has been a hot topic in the United States for years. While most laws protecting gun rights treat the home as a safe place where weapons should be allowed, research suggests that women are actually more at risk when there are guns at home.

Hannah Anderson, a junior political science major, is working with Susan Liebell, Ph.D, associate professor of political science, to explore the connection between gun violence and domestic violence as part of a project for the Summer Scholars program at Saint Joseph’s University.

Anderson’s interest in the project stems from two classes she has taken: one on the Second Amendment and another on Women, Gender & World Politics. She was so energized by the classes that she sought to combine what she learned in them and find out more about how guns affect women in particular. To get started, Anderson connected with Liebell.

“I had taken three courses with Dr. Liebell and really enjoyed working with her,” Anderson says.  “She was already working on a scholarly article on domestic violence and the Second Amendment. At the beginning of the summer, I was going through legal cases and domestic violence statistics as research for her paper.”

However, during her initial research, Anderson found that most of the resources currently available are rather biased. “It was hard to find a neutral website. Everything was either created by the NRA or called to ‘ban everything,’” she says. “As I was finding statistics and other information about gun violence, it made me want to make a neutral resource.”

“During the first part of the summer, she was learning two sets of research techniques,” Liebell says. “By working with me on the article, she was able to develop her own ideas.”

Creating a resource sharing unbiased information about the connection between gun violence and domestic violence ultimately became the focus of her Summer Scholars research project.

Anderson’s current vision for the website includes five parts:

  1. An outline of federal law and Supreme Court decisions surrounding gun laws.
  2. Bipartisan and nationally recognized statistics from credible, unbiased sources, such as the Department of Justice or the CDC.
  3. Resources for women experiencing domestic threats, including hotline numbers and shelters by state.
  4. A map highlighting every domestic violence-related death in the United States.
  5. News and updates on what is happening in relation to gun and domestic violence in the U.S.

Anderson’s Summer Scholars project is still a work in progress. However, she’s already thinking about what she will do next. This fall, Anderson will intern in Belgium with the European Union. She would like to continue expanding her research and advocating for women when she returns to campus.