If we’re really interested in stopping mass murder, it’s well past time to start talking seriously about whether we take domestic abuse seriously enough.
Find a man who’ll beat up women and children, and you may well find a man capable of killing the defenseless.
Devin Kelley. Stephen Paddock. Omar Mateen. Tamerlan Tsarnaev. James Fields Jr. All had a history of domestic assault. Of 156 mass shootings from 2009 to 2016, more than half the killers had a history of domestic violence.
This should be enough to keep guns out of the hands of people who beat, before they become people who kill, columnist Renee Graham writes this morning in the Boston Globe.
Both domestic abusers and mass killers are driven by a ferocious need to exert power and control through violence. The worst of these men — and mass killers are overwhelming men — seek domination through force, intimidation and, ultimately, murder. And they are buoyed by “a society that upholds a culture where misogyny is socially accepted, and ranges from domestic homicide to sexual harassment,” said [Debra Robbin, executive director of Jane Doe Inc., a social justice advocacy coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence].
“If we look at these issues as a continuum rather than as isolated, segregated forms of abuse,” she said, “we can see that we aren’t having a national conversation about gender-based violence and how to really get underneath and prevent it.”
Like the easy access to powerful firearms, domestic violence is a crisis of national proportions. From the Vegas Strip to rural Texas, and every point beyond and between, the unchecked anger that fuels domestic violence also feeds a culture of mass shootings as terrifying as they now are common, and seemingly unstoppable.
These men are not hard to find. The stories aren’t difficult to locate.
This week, Rheanna Lind, 23, of Detroit Lakes, told hers.
“Every day after school, he would take my phone and see who I was texting and, if I texted anyone that he didn’t like, he would break my phone,” Rheanna says of the man she started dating when she was in high school, according to the Detroit Lakes Tribune. “In the first year of our relationship, I went through six phones because of him. It just got progressively worse.”
“At first, he would throw me to the ground or push me. He would make everything feel like it was my fault–like he did this because of something that I did–and it turned into me apologizing for every single thing,” she explains. “It just kept getting worse, but he was pretty good about making it so the bruises were in places that I could hide. I would wear long sleeves and long pants–even in the summer–so that no one else could see the bruises. But, eventually, he stopped trying to hide it and occasionally I would get a black eye or a swollen lip somewhere where I couldn’t hide it.”
She left him. But when she told him, he pushed her down two flights of stairs and threw her across a car’s hood.
In Winona, women are trying to get the problem on the radar of people. The Women’s Resource Center has started its annual clothesline project in which T-shirts dedicated to the the dead are hung on a clothesline. There are a lot of T-shirts this year, the Winona Daily News writes.
Michelle Le, 48, of Richfield, was strangled by her husband.
Jaida Hoffman, 34, of Winona, was shot and killed by her boyfriend, who proceeded to shoot and kill himself.
And Vanessa Danielson, 36, of Minneapolis, was burned to death by her ex-boyfriend, who reportedly broke into her home while she was sleeping, doused her bed in gasoline and set it on fire.
“It’s not for lack of community awareness, and it’s not for lack of effort,” Diana Miller, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, said. “(Domestic violence) is supported in ways big and small within our cultural norms. Until we address it as a society and it rises to the level of a priority, it’s not going to go away. We all have to realize that it’s a problem.”
There are 11 criteria that would prevent someone from purchasing a gun. One of them is being the subject of a protective order for domestic violence or conviction of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
Yet in the records of military members in an FBI database, there is only one case of domestic assault, the New York Times says.
The federal law preventing the ownership of guns by domestic abusers applies only to married couples, couples with children, or couples who live together.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has filed legislation to close the “Boyfriend Loophole.”