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Study: Guns, Mass Shootings and Domestic Violence Linked

The 2018 Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence report ranked New Mexico among the worst 10 states for gun safety. (nyagv.org)
The 2018 Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence report ranked New Mexico among the worst 10 states for gun safety. (nyagv.org)
March 22, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico has the eighth-highest gun death rate in the country, and new analysis shows there is a strong link between mass shootings and domestic violence.

A study by the group Everytown for Gun Safety found the majority of those killings are linked to domestic or family violence.

Lydia Waligorski, public policy director for the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she isn't surprised by the correlation. She noted that groups like hers have known for decades that if people with a history of violence have access to a firearm, there's a much higher risk of fatalities.

"Even the presence of a firearm in the home where there's violence sends this message to the victims in the home that, 'I can kill you at any time I want,'" said Waligorski.

The Everytown research analyzed more than 150 cases between 2009 and 2016 in which four or more people were killed, not including the shooter. In more than four out of 10 cases, the killer showed "red flags" - threats, attempts or acts of violence, substance abuse or violations of protective orders.

Gun-rights advocates have argued that more firearms would prevent such incidents. Last year, New Mexico's governor vetoed legislation that would have required convicted domestic abusers to give up their guns.

According to Waligorski, the mere presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of a domestic violence survivor being killed by as much as 500 percent. She added that recent school shootings suggest even trained law enforcement officers are not always able to stop a determined shooter.

"When we add people that are not highly trained, that's adding more risk," she said. "More guns has not been the answer for domestic violence and, unfortunately, I do not feel that more guns is a solution for our schools."

The 2018 report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released earlier this month, ranked New Mexico among the worst 10 states for gun safety, noting that eight of the 10 states with the lowest gun-death rates had some of the strongest gun laws in the country.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM