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U.S. mass shooters share histories of domestic violence

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Text Summit Staff

If there is one thing mass shooters in the U.S. may have in common, is a history of domestic violence. This is in light of an article in Monday's Chicago Tribune where a 2006 hearing transcript revealed that the stepdaughter of the Virginia ball field shooter James Hodgkinson was the recipient of regular physical abuse by her foster father. Sadly, Cathy Rainbolt would later die in 2015 from a heroin overdose. Hodgkinson himself was shot and killed by police in the incident last week Wednesday.

In the newspaper's June 15 edition, a commentary was reproduced from the Washington Post, written by Nancy Leong, an associate professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. She says that Hodgkinson and "past mass shooters have chosen targets or left manifestos indicating wildly different possible political beliefs or motivations — or given no indication at all of what made them act."

There is, however, one thing "that an alarming number of the recent mass shooters in the United States share," Leong states, and that is "a history of aggression and violence toward women. " Among the cases she lists, two of them involved a Brooklyn man who murdered two police officers in 2015 who had shot his ex-girlfriend in the stomach just hours earlier, and a Kansas man who shot 17 people last year at his workplace who had been accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend and had been served with a restraining order not long before the shooting.

Leong cites an analysis of mass shootings from 2009 through 2016 that concluded that at least 54 percent of mass shootings "involved a current or former intimate partner or family member as a victim."

Despite the research findings and "passionate arguments about gun control and mental health services" that inevitably come up after such tragic incidents, the correlation to domestic violence isn't part of the discussion. "In reality," Leong writes, "it's impossible to separate domestic violence from gun violence more broadly: 36.7 percent of women living in domestic violence shelters have been threatened or harmed with a gun used by an intimate partner, and in 2011, more than half of women murdered with guns in the United States were killed by intimate partners or family members."

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence states that "There is no law in Hawaii prohibiting individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition. Federal law, however, prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by persons who have been convicted of a 'misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.'”

The Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a resource list of agencies and programs throughout the state people can refer to and use.

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