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Two Years After Tragedy in Aurora Movie Theater, New Analysis Breaks Down Mass Shootings in America

July 17, 2014

Last Week’s Mass Shooting in Texas that Killed Four Children and Two Adults was the 110th since 2009; See Full Analysis Here

Top Findings: 57 Percent of Mass Shootings Involve Domestic or Family Violence; 41 Percent of Shooters Were Prohibited Gun Purchasers

This week – nearly two years since the shooting in the Aurora, CO movie theater in which 12 people were killed and 58 others were wounded – Everytown for Gun Safety is releasing a comprehensive report analyzing mass shootings in America over the last six years. Employing a widely-used definition of mass shooting that is drawn from the FBI, the new report provides a comprehensive analysis of incidents in which four or more people were murdered with guns since 2009. Accompanied by a website with interactive graphics, it updates previous analyses released in 2013, and challenges the conventional wisdom about mass shootings in America.

Among the findings:

  • Mass shootings have a disproportionate impact on women – whereas women make up only 13 percent of total gun homicide victims, they make up 51 percent of mass shooting victims.
  • Domestic violence plays a significant part – 57 percent of mass shootings involved the shooting of a current or former intimate partner and in at least 20 of the 110 incidents the shooter had a prior domestic violence arrest.
  • Despite the usual focus on the mental health of the shooters, our analysis shows that only 11 percent of perpetrators exhibited signs of mental illness prior to the incident.
  • Only a small minority – 14 percent – took place in public spaces where guns could not be carried, or so-called “gun-free zones.” Seventy percent of the 110 incidents took place in private residences.

“We know that when domestic abusers get their hands on a weapon the results can be deadly,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “In fact more often than not mass shootings in America involve domestic violence against a current or former intimate partner. That is why we need to build on the success we have had in state legislatures and pass a federal law that will close the loopholes that allow domestic abusers to get guns.”

“In America, it is impossible to provide a detailed analysis of mass shootings without weaving in a narrative about domestic violence,” said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “In 57 percent of these horrible tragedies the shooter killed a current or former intimate partner. These troubling statistics remind us that there are steps we can take to protect women from gun violence, like keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers in the first place.”

Recent Everytown research on the role guns play in domestic violence has found that American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in any other developed country. And more than half of women murdered with guns in the U.S. in 2011 — at least 53 percent — were killed by intimate partners or family members.

In just the first half of 2014, Everytown has worked with domestic violence prevention advocates to pass important legislation in six states – Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington State, and Wisconsin – that will help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. These measures have been passed with bipartisan support and have been signed into law by governors of both parties, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Progress to keep guns out of the hands of abusers is also being made on the federal front. Recently Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced S.1290, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, to add stalkers and dating partners to the list of federally prohibited gun purchasers by updating the definition of persons convicted under the Misdemeanor Crimes of Domestic Violence (MCDV) to match the definition in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

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