Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings
By Gary Pudup and Melanie Blow
While every mass shooting leaves us grieving, each also leaves us with a better understanding of what leads to these horrific acts. Now is the time for soul-searching and reasoning about how hate and violence intersect. No reasonable person can deny that this country has a problem with gun violence that sets us apart from other advanced nations. Each mass shooting has unique characteristics with common themes. The slaughter in Orlando is no different.
The victims of this shooting were targeted because of their very identities, those characteristics that defined their particular humanity. Misogyny is typically an ingredient in domestic violence. The essence of domestic violence is an abuser in a position of power controlling their victim by whatever means necessary. Mass shooters seek to create a similar dynamic; the shooter has power over the victim by means of the gun.
According to an analysis of FBI data, a majority of mass shootings involve perpetrators of domestic violence, and a significant percent of mass shootings start with the abuser’s family and spill over to involve neighbors, friends, strangers and police. Even when a mass shooting isn’t a domestic violence shooting, the shooter usually has a history of domestic violence.
Yet in this past legislative session a bill that would make perpetrators of domestic violence surrender their firearms failed to pass. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin introduced a bill to prevent tragedies by closing this loophole. Despite the fact that a woman in a relationship with an abuser is six times more likely to be killed if the abuser owns a gun, it failed to pass in the Senate.
Making our society less hateful and prejudiced will take time. Making hate-filled people less dangerous by limiting their access to firearms is easier.
The connection is clear, domestic violence and mass shootings are closely related. We understand better every day. In every incident the connection between domestic violence and other forms of violence becomes clearer.
Let us hope that next year our state Legislature will also recognize the connection and pass the Domestic Violence Firearms Surrender Bill