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Study Links Domestic Violence to Mass Shootings

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018   

DENVER – There is a strong link between mass shootings and domestic violence, according to new analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety.

The study found the majority of incidents "involve domestic or family violence."

Lydia Waligorski, public policy director for the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says she isn't surprised by the correlation. She notes 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,'" she warns.

Everytown looked at 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 ten cases, the killer showed "red flags" - threats, attempts or acts of violence, substance abuse or violations of protective orders. Gun advocates argue more firearms would prevent such incidents.

For years, victims of domestic violence have been told they would be safe if they were armed, but Waligorski says the mere presence of a firearm in the home increases the risk of the survivor being killed by as much as 500 percent.

She points to a series of recent shooting deaths of highly trained law-enforcement officers in Colorado as evidence that good people with guns are not always able to stop one that's bad.

"When we add people that are not highly trained, that's adding more risk," she explains. "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."

Waligorski cites extreme risk-prevention policies, passed by a handful of states, as one way forward. Designed to stop gun tragedies before they occur, the measures allow family members to petition a court to remove a person's access to guns if they pose an imminent danger to themselves or others.


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