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Media Misses Frighteningly Common Connection Mass Killings have to Domestic Violence Perpetration

July 24, 2015

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) welcomes the data released today on mass killings – a frightful scourge in our nation. The research indicates that in the majority of cases, the perpetrators knew the victim or victims. Analysis of mass shootings reveals that the majority of these known perpetrators are abusers.

The USA Today article, Beyond Bloodshed, fails to make this connection. Identifying “breakups, estrangements, and family arguments” as the trigger in these cases hints at domestic violence but obfuscates the perpetrator’s agency in patterns and threats leading up to the murders.

“In order to work towards preventing these mass murders, we need to first name the underlying reality of domestic violence,” said Monica McLaughlin, Deputy Director of Public Policy at NNEDV. “Perpetrators haven’t snapped from a specific ‘family dispute’ – they are continuing their reign of terror and control. They are carrying out their plans, often clearly stated, to kill their partners and families.”


The report notes that there are failures in the response systems that could have helped prevent these murders. Advocates know that domestic violence homicides are predictable and preventable. To that end, NNEDV is working in partnership with our national allies to enact targeted legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers. We work to strengthen the law enforcement response to domestic violence, including issuance and enforcement of protective orders. We advocate for training across the spectrum of responders to ensure that domestic violence is recognized and that threats are taken seriously. We work to improve survivors’ access to pathways to safety, including shelter, housing, legal assistance, and economic opportunities.

NNEDV calls on the media to name and acknowledge both domestic violence and the pernicious, calculated role that perpetrators play in committing interpersonal and mass violence.