Domestic Violence Linked to Killings

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), November 10, 2017 | Go to article overview

Domestic Violence Linked to Killings


The mass murder in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was a horrific crime. It was also horrifically predictable, and emblematic of the systemic problem we have with guns and violence in the United States. Devin Patrick Kelley was the white, 26-year-old former active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force who is believed to have killed 26 people and injured 20 on Sunday before killing himself. The massacre serves as yet another lethal example of the link between domestic violence and mass shootings.

While he was in the Air Force, Kelley was convicted of assaulting his wife and fracturing the skull of his 18-month-old stepson. The Air Force court-martialed him and confined him for a year, but failed to report his conviction to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System. He had numerous other red flags, from the violent abuse of animals to issuing death threats against his superiors in the Air Force. He reportedly had been sending threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church where he committed mass murder.

"The majority of mass shootings are connected to domestic violence or family violence in some way," Sarah Tofte, research director at Everytown for Gun Safety, told us on the "Democracy Now" news hour. Tofte's team has just published a new report. They found that from 2009 to 2016, in more than half of mass shootings, the shooters killed intimate partners or other family members. Domestic violence is more than just a red flag; it is a crime in itself. Their report reads:

"The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed."

"Women in the U.S. are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other high-income countries, making this country the most dangerous in the developed world when it comes to gun violence against women. Every year American women suffer from 5.3 million incidents of intimate partner violence."

"Fifty American women are shot to death by intimate partners monthly, and many more are injured. Nearly 1 million women alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner."

"We see this pattern over and over again," Soraya Chemaly, director of the Women's Media Center Speech Project, said on "Democracy Now." "There's absolutely no doubt that the practice of violence within a home, in an intimate setting, with people that theoretically the aggressor loves, opens the floodgates to public violence. …

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