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The connection between domestic violence and mass shootings

Posted on October 23, 2019

One of the first big mass shootings to make headlines was the Columbine shooting in Colorado. Since then, mass shooters have targeted music festivals, shopping malls, worksites and even churches. MarketWatch estimates that by July 2019, America had already seen almost as many mass shootings as it did for the entire year of 2018. Put simply, mass shootings are on the rise.

One of the troubling factors researchers uncovered with mass shooters is that they often shot a family member while carrying out the act. In fact, most mass shootings involve domestic violence. In many of these instances, from as early as 2006, the shooter would start with a family member first and then seek out other victims.

A 2017 TIME article came to a similar conclusion, though it focused more closely on violence between partners, particularly instances where men were violent towards their current or former romantic partners. It estimated that an intimate partner or another family member also got shot in 54% of mass shooting incidents. After looking at mass shooting statistics since 2009, researchers also found that 33% of shooters had a history of violence against women.

The article points out that a domestic violence charge typically prohibits someone from being able to purchase a gun. However, not every state enforces this. Some states report thousands of these incidents every year, while others report no statistics at all. In addition to this, the military allegedly mishandled the reporting of domestic violence cases between 2004 and 2012, allowing many veterans and active-duty personnel to slip through the cracks.

Risking the right to carry arms and being treated as a threat to society are just some of the obstacles men or women may face after a domestic violence conviction. When the person is wrongly accused, this damage to their reputation is more acutely felt. It is no wonder that so many people fight hard to avoid charges like this from ending up on their record.