The Lethal Nexus: Mass Shootings and Domestic Violence
By Amy Goodman &
Denis Moynihan(*) – Democracy Now!
the United States is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic when the pace of mass
shootings gets back to “normal.” As of June 2nd, there were 244 mass shootings
in the U.S. this year. That’s one to two per day. The place and time of the
next of these horrific acts is unknown, but that one will happen is a
certainty. Then another, and another. One consequence of the number of mass
shootings in the U.S. is that we possess data related to the crimes, which show
a correlation between mass shooters and domestic violence. A majority of the
men who commit mass shootings (and men commit at least 97% of them) also have a
history of domestic violence. That knowledge, along with sensible,
fully-enforced gun control measures, could help stem the epidemic of mass
shootings that blights our society, and save the lives of women threatened by
intimate partner violence.
the morning of May 26th, as workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation
Authority light rail hub prepared trains for the morning commute, employee
Samuel Cassidy, 57, arrived and within an hour embarked on a shooting rampage,
killing nine of his coworkers before taking his own life. He had three pistols
with him, as many as 32 magazines, at least some of which were illegal in
California, and dozens more guns at home. The guns he used were all registered
and purchased legally.
Nelms, Cassidy’s ex-wife, told the New York Times that he said of his coworkers
several times, “I wish I could kill them.” Nelms and Cassidy divorced in 2004
after 10 years of marriage, during which time Cassidy became increasingly given
to fits of rage and uncontrollable anger with her. In 2009, Samuel Cassidy sought
a restraining order against an ex-girlfriend. In her court filing rebutting his
accusations, the ex-girlfriend detailed occasions when Cassidy raped her and
other times when he attempted to do so. She described episodes of his
alcohol-fueled mood swings and violent rages.
between firearms violence and domestic violence is a particularly lethal one,”
Julia Weber of the Giffords Law Center and an expert on domestic violence
policy, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “We have over a million women
alive today in the United States who have been shot or shot at by male
partners. We have 600 women a year, at least, who are killed by their intimate
partners as a result of firearms violence. That’s one about every 14 hours or
the gun violence prevention organization co-founded by former Congresswoman
Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in Tucson while meeting constituents
in a shopping center parking lot on January 8th, 2011. She survived, with brain
injuries that she continuously works to overcome. Six people were killed by the
mass shooter that day, and twelve were injured.
described some of the actions that would help stop perpetrators of domestic
violence from committing acts of mass violence: “Getting the firearms from
someone who currently owns firearms and becomes prohibited. Ensuring that we
have universal background checks, so that if someone who is prohibited attempts
to purchase firearms or ammunition, they would be denied. We also need to do a
much better job addressing misogyny and domestic violence from the start —
recognizing that there’s real harm that occurs as a result of gender bias.”
study from researchers at the University of Indianapolis found that “[m]ale
abusers with guns who take the lives of their intimate partners are much more
likely to take the lives of others at the same time.” The study also summarized
earlier findings that “the presence of a firearm in the home has been shown to
increase the risk of death in domestic violence situations as much as
Bloomberg News published a study of 749 mass shootings, finding that 60% of
those mass shootings were perpetrated during an act of domestic violence or by
a man with a history of domestic violence. Bloomberg also found that mass
shootings perpetrated by domestic abusers had a consistently higher body count.
COVID-19 pandemic trapped countless women at home with their abusers, sparking
increased calls to domestic abuse hotlines. There was also a surge in gun purchases.
Small Arms Analytics reported that, in a country already awash with over 300
million guns, more than 26 million guns were sold in the U.S. in 2020.
necessary steps to stop mass shootings is to deny men who beat and abuse women
at home the freedom they currently enjoy to buy and own guns, and to take
violence against women seriously, strengthening the laws and institutions that
protect them from their abusers. June 03, 2021
Goodman – Award-winning investigative journalist and syndicated
columnist, author and host/executive producer of Democracy Now! www.democracynow.org —Denis Moynihan is a writer and radio producer who writes a
weekly column with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman.