A significant number of mass shootings, defined as incidents involving four or more victims, involve shootings of family members or intimate partners.
Mass shootings in the United States are often linked to domestic violence
Research conducted between 2014 and 2019 revealed that approximately 68% of mass shooters either killed their family members or intimate partners or had a history of domestic violence. The prevalence of such incidents surpasses public mass killings and occurs seven times more frequently in homes or similar settings.
Experts have highlighted the strong correlation between domestic violence and mass shootings. Perpetrators of mass shootings frequently have a background of controlling and abusing their wives, girlfriends, and sometimes other family members. Guns often serve as tools of intimidation, coercion, and threats in abusive relationships, even if they are not actively used or threatened. Female partners face a significantly higher risk of being killed when male domestic abusers have access to firearms. However, research has not extensively examined the risks faced by male partners when female domestic abusers possess firearms.
The easy availability of firearms exacerbates the issue
The United States has an estimated 433.9 million guns in the civilian population, exceeding the number of people by approximately 100 million. Some states have taken steps to protect domestic violence victims and the public by implementing extreme risk protection orders, commonly known as red flag laws. These laws temporarily prohibit individuals from owning or possessing firearms. A study conducted in 2022 found that potential victims named by individuals making threats of mass shootings were often intimate partners or family members. Targets related to K-12 schools and businesses were threatened more frequently than intimate partners.
Leaving an abusive relationship is considered the most dangerous period, as it significantly increases the risk of fatal violence. The fear of violence plays a significant role in preventing individuals from leaving abusive relationships. Perpetrators of violence often become increasingly threatening and controlling leading up to the victim contacting law enforcement. However, depending on the jurisdiction, few consequences may deter abusers, leading to a further escalation of violence.