What Mass Shooters Tend to Have in Common – It’s Domestic Violence

By Rachel Puryear

Ever wonder what type of person it is behind all these mass shootings?

Domestic Violence is a Top Indicator for Mass Shootings

People who abuse and intentionally hurt their romantic partners and children don’t just make bad partners and parents – they’re also the majority of mass shooting and other gun violence perpetrators.

Protestor holding up sign reading, “Stop Gun Violence”. By Chip Vincent.

According to a recent, peer-reviewed study conducted by The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, which examined 110 mass shooting cases occurring between 2014 and 2019 for ties to domestic violence; the following findings help shed light on the relationship between domestic violence and mass shootings:

  • For the purposes of this study, a “mass shooting” is defined as an event with at least four fatalities by gunfire, excluding the perpetrator.
  • Cases were classified as either domestic violence-related (at least one victim was a dating partner or family member of the perpetrator), history of domestic violence (the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence, but the shooting was not directed towards a dating partner or family members), or non-domestic violence-related (the perpetrator had no known history of domestic violence).
  • Nearly two-thirds – 59.1% – of the total shootings – were domestic-violence related (a dating partner or family member of the perpetrator was included among the victims).
  • In an additional 9.1% of the mass shootings, the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence, although no dating partners or family members of the perpetrator were targeted in the shooting.
  • Accordingly, a full 68.2% of the mass shootings were either domestic violence-related, or were perpetrated by someone with a history of domestic violence.
  • In the other 31.8% of the mass shootings, the perpetrator had no known history of domestic violence, and none of the victims were dating partners or family members of the perpetrator.
  • Mass shootings which were domestic violence-related were also more deadly than non-domestic-violence related shootings. Fatality rates for domestic violence-related shootings were 83.7%, for perpetrators with only a history of domestic violence it was 53.8%, and where the shooting was non-domestic-violence related the fatality rate was 63.1%.
  • Of the 110 mass shooting cases studied; 55 of the perpetrators (one half of them) died during the shooting. 39 (71%) shot themselves, 15 (28%) were killed by police, and one of them died by an intentional overdose.
Protestor holding up a sign reading, “Kids are the future not guns”. By Natalie Chaney.

What Could Be Done to Help Stop This Madness?

The United States is rather unique in the world in how easy it is to not only buy guns here, but to buy automatic weapons of war for non-military use by civilians. That’s been the case for a couple decades now, during the same time period in which we’ve seen increasing numbers of mass shootings. Mass shootings are also much more common in the U.S. than in the rest of the world. As of June 2, 2022 – the 153rd day of the year – there had already been over 250 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022.

The pain and agony and loss and grief and horror and trauma of people and families everywhere arising out of gun violence, though; is making huge, unprecedented profits for gun companies. Allowing the sales of military weapons to civilians, even if they’re really unstable, is making some very bad and selfish people very rich. That’s why they lobby so hard against gun control laws that could save lives, and prevent a lot of grief.

We as a nation absolutely need better gun control laws, and military weapons need to be restricted only to military use. This is an issue to take into consideration in voting, and to contact your representatives about.

Nonetheless, though, banning assault weapons for civilian use now is kind of like turning off the water after a burst pipe has flooded your home. The water isn’t flowing in anymore, but there’s still the flood to deal with. Likewise, if assault weapons are banned (including controlling illegal sales), there are still lots and lots of assault weapons out there that have already been sold. So gun control laws are necessary, but not enough.

Loopholes in buying guns such as online gun sales and gun shows make it easier to buy guns. While some states require those with restraining orders issued against them to surrender their firearms, the federal government has no such requirement; and even where there is such a requirement, it often relies on an honor system – but honor systems don’t work in this situation. Furthermore, requirements to surrender firearms pursuant to a restraining order don’t always apply to situations where the abuser and the victim were dating, but were not married and did not live together or have children together. Addressing all of these such loopholes is also important, in addition to laws restricting or prohibiting the sale of certain weapons.

Mental health has been cited by some as a driving factor behind mass shootings, and many point to the need for better mental health services as a solution to mass shootings. While better mental health services is certainly a good and necessary thing for the sake of people who need better access to such, it won’t fix the problem of gun control – domestic violence is a much stronger indicator of being a mass shooting perpetrator than mental health problems. People struggling with mental illnesses are usually not would-be mass shooters.

In addition to the need for better gun control generally, there must also be gun control that specifically focuses on domestic violence perpetrators – as it is this population that is by far the most likely to perpetrate mass shootings.

The People Who Conducted the Above-Detailed Study Have Another Suggestion:

Since the Parkland, Florida high school massacre in 2018, nineteen states plus Washington, D.C. have enacted “red flag” laws – also known as extreme risk protection orders – this means that family members or law enforcement can petition for a judge to disarm a person before they commit a crime. This is intended to prevent violence before it occurs. This works in a way that emergency restraining orders currently work.

The petitioners may explain to a judge why the person is at high risk for gun violence – sometimes, the person may also be a risk to themselves, and so such laws can prevent suicides as well as homicides. Such orders could also be later dropped – and the same is true for restraining orders generally – if the person is deemed no longer a likely threat to others, or to themselves.

Does your state or city have red flag laws? If it doesn’t, but you like the idea; you could contact your local representatives about it, and also tell other people you know about it. And if you know someone who has a domestic violence problem, and own guns; chances are, they won’t become a mass shooter – but be extremely wary about trusting or getting close to them. And, as always; when the time comes, VOTE, every time!


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to Angeli Gomez, the Uvalde mom who ran into the school during the shooting to safely rescue her kids, and did so unarmed even when armed police refused to go in.

Got a question you’d like to see addressed on this blog? Submit your question to me here – and if you don’t already, please request to subscribe to the Free Range Life newsletter while you’re there!

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