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Did you know 51% of mass murder victims are female?

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I no longer trust or believe this statistic. The FBI rpoduced an excellent, trustworthy analysis of mass shootings, called the "FBI Study of Active Shooter Incidents".  The anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety published a paper with a similar title, "Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings." Everytown did not explain how they got that 51% statistic.  They did not explain how many people were in that group, or how Everytown obtained information about them.  Thus this number must nto be trusted.  AWARE will continue to provide only information that is the best and most reliable.  The FBI has it; Everytown does not.

According to FBI statistics, only 13% of murder victims in a typical year are women.  According to the same statistics, 51% of victims of mass murders are female.  What is going on?  Why are women dying so frequently in mass murders?  The intersection of domestic violence and mass murder, that’s what is going on.  Hardly anyone knows that fact.  Everyone should know it.

99% of gun-involved homicides are not mass murders.  Most of them involve a male shooter and a male victim.  That’s why barely 13% of “typical” murder victims are women.  Mass murders are less than 1% of the gun-involved homicides.  But they are spectacularly more lethal to women.  

A study called “Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings” recently became available.  I’ll provide a link to it at the end of this blog.  The study is based on one very good feature.  It uses the FBI’s rather strict definition of “mass murder” which is an incident in which at least 4 people are killed.  It includes for each incident information from the FBI and from media reports.  

There were 110 mass murders in  five and a half years, the time covered in this report, January 2009 to July 2014.  That’s about one every 3 or 4 weeks.

For each incident, the report gives the city, state and date, a brief description of the shooting, the shooter’s name and age, the people killed, the type of gun (if known), the type of ammunition (if known), how the shooter obtained the gun, whether the shooter was a “prohibited person” (unable to buy a gun legally), where the shooting occurred (a gun-free zone, or not), whether the incident ended in suicide, and more.

It makes for very informative reading.  Here are some of the highlights.

Overwhelmingly, but not exclusively, mass murders are committed by men.

Seventy-seven of the mass murders (70%) took place entirely in private residences. Think about that. Most mass murders started and ended at home.  Mass murderers are virtually all men.  So, who is going to be at home for them to shoot?   A wife or ex-wife, a girlfriend or ex-grilfriend, children, some of whom will be female.

In a clear majority (57%) of these murders, the shooter killed a a current or former spouse, a current or former intimate partner, or another family member.  

In about 18% of the incidents, the shooter’s past included a domestic violence charge.

Federal law prohibits gun ownership in only three situations, (1) the perpetrate has been married to the victim, (2) the perpetrator has a child with the victim, or (3) the perpetrator cohabits with the victim.  It does not prohibit  gun ownership in situations where the perpetrator and victim have a current or past intimate relationship, without cohabitation.  In 12 of 48 mass murder incidents, there was “no evidence the pair had ever married or had a child together.”  Perhaps this is a loophole that could be plugged.

You can see and download the report for yourself at Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings. Yes, that’s the website of the anti-gun group Every Town for Gun Safety.    This report, however, does not call for guns to be banned.  It exposes the critical and often overlooked relationship between domestic violence, mass murder, and victims who are women and girls.  If the report is used, as we are advocating here, to call attention to the problem and to help reduce the number of women killed in these attacks, that will be a good thing.  A very good thing.

Picture Credit: Shutterstock / Fabio Freitas e Silva

 

Picture credit: Shutterstock/Alexey Grigorev
Picture credit: Shutterstock/Alexey Grigorev
Picture credit: Shutterstock/Alexey Grigorev

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