Domestic violence cases that result in death are on the rise in Iowa. A new report from the state’s Domestic Abuse Death Review Team shows Iowa averaged about 15 deaths from domestic violence per year between 2005 and 2009, compared to about 12 per year between 1995 and 2004.

Binnie LeHew, with the Iowa Department of Public Health, says all domestic violence deaths can be prevented. “In many cases, family members and friends are aware that their loved ones are in these relationships and there have been threats of homicide or suicide,” LeHew said.

“So, we’re really encouraging the public to take those threats seriously. If they want to help a loved one or they’re in that situation, there are resources available and they can get help.”

In 67% of the cases, gunshot wounds were identified as the cause of death. The Death Review Team is recommending that seizure of firearms be required for all misdemeanor domestic violence convictions. LeHew says there were 10 or 11 cases that the team reviewed in which the perpetrator had been previously convicted of domestic violence.

“If the law were changed, those could have been automatic weapons seizure orders,” LeHew said. The report shows women are the overwhelming victims of homicide and in 42% of the cases the perpetrator committed suicide.

See the full report here.