Another mass shooting by domestic violence perpetrator
District Attorney Bill Delahunt developed successful practices 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 helpful tool for 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 many other people analyzing this and other tragedies, I don’t wish to promote the simplistic idea that there is one cause or 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 practical responses to domestic violence, dramatically reducing domestic violence assaults and related crimes. It is significant that despite his repeated assaults on his wife, the Orlando murderer had no criminal record. Implementing 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 more difficulty gaining access to lethal weapons. Giving abusers a criminal record, as too many prosecutors are willing to avoid, would 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 everyday 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. There should be one singular thing in all the confusion about what caused this terror attack and how we can stop them in the future.
The last thing we need is more hatred, bigotry, and division.
Domestic Violence Writer, Speaker, and Advocate
Barry Goldstein is one of the leading domestic violence authors, speakers, advocates, and a frequent expert witness.