Almost every mass shooter has been a domestic abuser first — maybe it’s time to take violence against women seriously?


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Almost every mass shooter has been a domestic abuser first — maybe it’s time to take violence against women seriously?

The Alexandria shooter is just one on a long list of abusers turned shooters

Yesterday, 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson shot up an Alexandria baseball diamond – targeting Congressional members and staffers. While this news is shocking, we shouldn’t be surprised by Hodgkinson’s criminal history.

In 2006, he was arrested after allegedly punching his girlfriend in the face and firing a gun at a young man on the scene. The Daily Beast says he was also seen beating his daughter at the scene of the crime. When the girlfriend tried to flee with his daughter in the car, Hodgkinson reached in, turned off the engine, and cut her seatbelt with a knife.

Domestic abuse is a common trend in the background of mass shooters

The shootings at the Fort Lauderdale airportVirginia TechIsla Vista, CaliforniaOrlando’s Pulse nightclub, and San Bernardino were all committed by men who have a history of abusing women. Many of these cases are especially heinous – the Fort Lauderdale shooter allegedly tried to strangle his girlfriend on multiple occasions.

In other words, it is now more correct to assume the average mass shooter has committed domestic abuse than to assume he has not. And the connections between domestic abuse and mass acts of violence are deep and complicated.

Women are more likely to be killed by an abuser than anyone else with a gun

A study done by Boston University found higher gun ownership rates are associated with higher homicide rates – and specifically, more homicides of women by non-strangers. And according to Media Matters, a gun being in a home makes it five times more likely that domestic violence will end in murder.

But abusers’ violence doesn’t end in the home. A gun control group called Everytown for Gun Safety found that 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016 involved the murder of a family member or intimate partner. This suggests that domestic violence is not a private problem – but a possible attack on the public.

Even in mass shooting cases which did not involve the murder of a relative or partner, common threads tie together the two sickening behaviors

The New York Times suggests “both, at their most basic level, are attempts to provoke fear and assert control.” Additionally, both can be based in “a belief that someone, somewhere, had wronged them in a way that merited a violent response… from that perspective, domestic violence can be seen as a psychological training ground… to commit a violent attack.”

If the two crimes are so similar – and there is such a strong correlation between the two actions – one would assume proper actions have been taken to assure domestic abusers are treated as potential threats. However, the law does not treat them this way.

According to Slate, there are many loopholes that allow abusers to both buy guns and keep their guns.

For instance, if the victim is not tied to the abuser by law – such as being a legal spouse or co-parent – gun restrictions do not apply.

In refusing to recognize the seriousness of domestic violence as both a personal and public issue – and in refusing to insure domestic abusers are properly restricted from tools of violence – politicians are failing to protect us.

It is time to take womens’ accounts of interpersonal violence seriously.