Mass murder in America weighs heavily on my mind, as I am sure it does yours as well. It seems as if life has become very cheap these days, and that taking a gun to the streets, or the movie theater, or the school, or the nightclub, has become almost normative.
As a domestic relations attorney, I was dismayed, but actually not surprised, when I recently read several articles citing research demonstrating striking parallels, if not outright connections, between mass murderers and perpetrators of domestic violence.
For instance, research by an organization known as Everytown for Gun Safety found that 57% of mass shooters between 2009 and 2015 had also victimized a spouse, former spouse or other family member. Sixteen percent of shooters had previously been charged with domestic violence.
What mass shooters and domestic violence perpetrators share in common, apparently, are the intent to provoke fear and exercise control. This was certainly true of Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub shooter, whose ex-wife reports that he limited her ability to leave their home except to work, would not permit her to communicate with her parents and who required her to turn over her weekly paycheck to him. She stated that if she disobeyed the rules, he became violent.
Thankfully, most people who resort to domestic violence are not mass murderers. However, it is helpful to understand the dynamics which motivate violence both at the personal level of domestic partners as well as violence against large groups of strangers. It seems to me that terrorists/mass murderers wish to control us all with fear. Case in point: after the most recent movie theater shooting, close friends of mine went to a 9:00 a.m. matinee to see a movie, reasoning the theater would be empty that time of day and it would be a most unlikely target for a massacre. That is control through fear.
My hope is that we will all have the faith in each other to put these shootings into perspective and to redouble our commitment to lead “normal” lives. To become a slave to fear is to give into senseless violence. My hope is that every victim of domestic violence will have the courage to leave that Mateen’s wife demonstrated. No one has the right to use violence as a means of creating fear of living life its full potential.
It has been a particularly horrific summer for acts of senseless violence. Join me in keeping the souls lost and their mourning loved ones in our thoughts and prayers. Join me in hoping for a safer, peaceful world.