The facts highlighted in this article haven’t changed from last year to this year, but days after the memorials for the Pulse shooting victims, America is reeling from the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise, a staffer and a police officer who was protecting the public. Already in the Scalise shooting, the shooter has been identified as a perpetrator of domestic violence, as was the shooter at Pulse.
The Stop Abuse Campaign holds the victims of this shooting in our hearts and hope for the full and swift recovery of all innocent victims. We also hope we learn from history and from researchers and stop abuse.
District Attorney Bill Delahunt developed successful practices now known as the Quincy Solution after studying the personal records at a nearby high security prison. He noticed that virtually every inmate had a childhood history that included domestic violence and often sexual abuse and believed that if he could prevent domestic violence crimes this would dramatically reduce all crimes.
Reviews of mass shootings in the United States found that over half of the deaths were caused by men with a history of domestic violence. Journalists and public officials have not focused on this valuable revelation. As a result, a useful tool in preventing mass shootings has not been developed. The murderer responsible for the horrific carnage in Orlando had a deplorable history of abusing his former wife. This information has not been the focus of the news coverage or of stories concerning how to prevent these continuing tragedies.
Unlike too many other people analyzing this and other tragedies, I don’t wish to promote the simplistic idea that there is one cause or one solution. The Saunders’ Study from the US Justice Department found that the failure of custody courts to use a more multi-disciplinary approach contributed to the widespread failure to protect children in domestic violence cases. Our response to mass shootings would also benefit from the expertise of professionals in law enforcement, national security, mental health, gun violence, suicide and domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Expertise Can Help Reduce Mass Shootings
Strict enforcement of criminal laws, protective orders and probation rules represent a significant part of the effective responses to domestic violence that have been shown to dramatically reduce domestic violence assaults and related crimes. It is significant that despite his repeated assaults on his wife, the Orlando murderer had no criminal record. The implementation of the Quincy Solution would dramatically reduce domestic violence and improve the economy. It would also identify criminals who are especially dangerous to women, children and police officers. Most domestic abusers never commit a mass shooting, but as we saw in Orlando it doesn’t take many to cause catastrophic damage.
Strict enforcement of domestic violence laws, together with restrictions on the ability of these abusers to access guns would make their partners and future partners far safer. These good practices would also mean that potential mass murderers would have a more difficult time gaining access to lethal weapons. Giving abusers a criminal record, as too many prosecutors are willing to avoid, would also make it easier for law enforcement to investigate potential terrorists. We will never know if the FBI would have treated the murderer differently if he had a criminal record.
Many domestic violence experts use oppression theory to understand and respond to domestic violence. This is because sexism is a significant cause of domestic violence. Other common oppressions include racism, heterosexism, classism and ableism. These oppressions are interconnected so it is not surprising that the killer’s hatred of the LGBT community was a significant factor in this latest terror attack. A better understanding of oppressions and the enormous harm they cause our society would help friends, family, colleagues and professionals recognize danger signs.
The tragic events in Orlando caused enormous pain, fear and sadness to friends and relatives of the victims and to the rest of us who never knew them. 49 people will never reach their potential and won’t enjoy the rest of their lives because a self-entitled abuser believed there could be something that would justify a massacre. In all the confusion about what caused this terror attack and how we can stop them in the future, there should be one thing that is certain. THE LAST THING WE NEED IS MORE HATRED, BIGOTRY AND DIVISION.