It seems like the United States can barely go a full month without having to cope with a horrific act of mass violence committed at the hands of a man with access to a gun.
We obsess over the shooter’s race, his religion, whether he had mental illness. We wring our hands over our lax gun laws. Our lawmakers offer inane promises of “thoughts and prayers.” We think there is no fathomable way to predict or prevent the gun carnage like that in Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Orlando, and well, the list goes on.
But there is one disturbing, yet under-reported pattern that is painfully clear when it comes to mass violence and terrorism: Domestic violence. Many of the men who commit mass public attacks were accused of abusing the women and children in their lives.
Investigators now say that 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley was involved in an ongoing “domestic situation” when he opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., killing 26 and wounding 20 more. Apparently, he sent “threatening texts” to his mother-in-law, who was not at the church at the time but was a member.
Prior to the massacre, Kelley was court-martialed from the Air Force and spent time in military prison after he was charged with assaulting his wife and stepson. Yet he was still able to get his hands on a weapon. A number of the perpetrators in recent infamous mass shootings had histories of abusing their wives, mothers and daughters.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, 54 percent of mass shootings involve a partner or another family member being killed. Male violence is an acute threat to American women: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that homicide is the fifth leading cause of death for women from 18 to 44, and more than half of these killings were carried out by men they knew — husbands, boyfriends, exes, or other intimate partners. Women in the United States are 16 times more likely to be killed by a gun than in other developed nations. How many Americans must be felled by bullets have to happen before we understand that the safety of women and children at home is not just a private matter but also essential to public safety?
For more, watch the video above. Instead of subjecting immigrants and refugees to “extreme vetting,” or lazily stigmatizing the mentally ill for our gun violence problem, it’s beyond time to treat violence against women as a serious threat to our national security.