Law enforcement officials continue their investigation at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on November 6, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

When Devin Kelly opened fire in a Texas church on Sunday there may have already been signs he was at risk for committing such a heinous act: Kelly spent a year locked up for domestic violence against his wife and her infant son. In this segment, Forum explores the link between domestic violence and mass shootings.

Guests:
Mark Follman,
national affairs editor, Mother Jones magazine
Jacquie Marroquin, director of programs, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

Exploring the Link Between Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings 8 November,2017Michael Krasny

  • ed

    The fact is near all mass shooters in the U within the several decades have been single men, I strongly believe that mass shooting is the ease and availability of guns, specially automatic and machine guns across the country, domestic violence may give an indication of potential violence and antisocial behavior of some, but the ease of having guns in this society, plays far more major part….By definition, you can not have mass shooting, or even mass murders without automatic guns.

    • Curious

      “I strongly believe”

      But you are factually incorrect.

      • Curious

        “By definition, you can not have mass shooting, or even mass murders without automatic guns.”

        Absolutely false. Oklahoma bombing. Nice truck attack. Many more examples.

        • turquoisewaters

          The easy availability of extremely powerful weapons has certainly made violent crime much more lethal in the US than it is in other countries.

          • Curious

            False.
            The U.S. doesn’t rank No. 1 in mass shootings.
            At 0.15 mass shooting fatalities per 100,000 people, the U.S. had a lower rate than Norway (1.3 per 100,000), Finland (0.34 per 100,000) and Switzerland (1.7 per 100,000).

  • Noelle

    I’m glad you are having this segment, since when we talk about the latest mass shooting, this aspect is mentioned but then the media moves on. Male rage and domestic violence are so much a part of the culture that we never really address it. I recommend the documentary “The Mask I Live In” which is about the socialization of boys and men.

  • James R

    People question why Devin Kelley killed and wounded all those innocent people when his anger was for his mother-in law who wasn’t at the church. Whether intentional or not Devin Kelley inflicted a thousand times more suffering on his mother in law then if he had killed her. The mother in law lost her mother, church, and all those at the church. She will live with the quilt everyday. Emotional shock from losing a loved one can cause physical problems but this emotional shock is unimaginable.

    • Noelle

      My friend’s experience(see above) was very difficult, and she had to testify in the perpetrator’s trial. He was sentenced to life in prison. She has to carry this guilt, and she ultimately returned to live in her home country. At least now she is happily married and has a normal-enough life.

  • Kate

    Imagine if we treated domestic violence as seriously as we treat petty drug crimes. People are locked up for decades for minor drug possession or sales, but beat up a woman, your child, or your dog, and you walk free. Our priorities are completely backwards. Domestic violence is a serious crime in and of itself, and an obvious predictor of future violence. What if we had mandatory minimum sentencing for these violent crimes? What if we actually cared about violence against women?

    • Curious

      I am not sure that what you are saying about perpetrators of domestic violence as simply walking free. Also, the situation is often complicated by women who decide they do not want to press charges. Then they are assaulted again and the police become frustrated as do prosecutors who feel they are wasting their time.

      • Kate

        Devin Patrick Kelley for example. He cracked a child’s skull and was free in a year.
        Surely this is the type of crime that deserves the harshest sentencing.

        Not sure why you chose to go after the victim with your comment. The state can press charges.

        • Curious

          The state can press charges but it is difficult to prosecute without a witness and especially one who is begging for charges to be dropped.

          Kelley was prosecuted by the military.

  • Noelle

    Also, there are so many murders committed by violent men against their partners, but since it’s only one victim we may hear about the murder for a day and then we move on. And then there are the ones who kill the partner, her family, friends etc. I had a friend who was involved with a guy and when she broke up with him he took a gun, tried to shoot her and killed her friend instead. In this case, there were no signs that he would become violent, though.

    • Kate

      And if you report threatening behavior to the police they can’t/won’t do anything until it’s way too late. This is a crime that is tacitly endorsed by our society, from police (who have some of the highest levels of abuse against women as anyone) to the justice system.

  • Pontifikate

    Please discuss the other side of the issue — that many men who have been abused in their youth have a rage that they express violently when they become adults.

    • Noelle

      Good point.

  • Ehkzu

    The best advanced warning sign for a mass killer is not domestic violence–it’s a history of violence, in which domestic violence may or may not be involved. The focus for predicting future mass murderers should be on those who always blame others for their problems and have shown a propensity to resort to violence. It could be violence towards animals or parents or workmates. Domestic violence is a big, big problem, but here the topic is mass murderers and what we can use for warning signs.

    A good article on why mental illness is an even bigger red herring is this one in The Atlantic Monthly:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/10/why-better-mental-health-care-wont-stop-mass-shootings/541965/

    • How about non-mass murders committed with weapons? Is rage always the cause? More non-mass murders take place than mass murders.

      • turquoisewaters

        Would it be so bad to reduce these numbers as well?

  • There’s anecdotal evidence that ownership of a gun for vulnerable individuals is itself a cause of gun violence. For example, personification of weapons, a popular practice, creates for many owners a compelling need to put the weapons to use. Clearly, the psychological implications of gun ownership are far more complex than the NRA and other advocates of ignorance regarding gun use let on.

    • Ehkzu

      This is also why mass murderers who are doing it for personal as opposed to political reasons have shown a marked preference for assault weapons over, say, trucks or bombs. They don’t just want to kill a lot of people–they want to see each victim being hit and dying, one after another (a knife does this too but it limits the number of people you can kill before you’re stopped, and it requires more strength and training than you need to commit mass murder with an assault rifle.

    • geraldfnord

      Ever read Terry Pratchett’s Men at arms? It exaggerates, but I think it makes a great distinction between people for who a weapon might as well be a person and those for whom it is a tool, and which to avoid.

  • IsernHinnerk

    It is an interesting discussion. I was in a relationship with an abusive woman who was arrested for domestic violence. She had the attitude (and said openly) that restraining orders were “just meaningless pieces of paper”. I could never see her as engaging in a mass shooting (she never liked guns) but there is a parallel to the Kelley case in that he clearly lied on the ATF form when he applied to purchase his firearms. He was legally barred from buying guns but when a person feels that the law does not apply to them, anything goes … and no law will stop them.

    • Ehkzu

      Anything goes when the law is not applied effectively. We have the technology to do this today.

      • IsernHinnerk

        If you haven’t dealt with such a person, you would not know. I used to be naive about the law and court orders, too. All you can do is take away their liberty (incarceration).

        • Ehkzu

          I’m fine with taking away their liberty when they break restraining orders. My point is that the police don’t, and thus validate your ex’s saying a restraining order is “just a piece of paper.” That’s all it is when it’s treated that way by law enforcement. It still wouldn’t stop the ones who don’t care what what happens to them as long as they get revenge, but it would deter those who have any sense of self-preservation.

    • Kate

      These violent individuals should be incarcerated. It is not fair to you or society at large to have to live with such people on the loose.

  • Livegreen

    Victims of domestic violence need to be sheltered & taken care of. At the same time the perpetrator’s mental health also needs to be addressed to prevent them from hurting others. How do we fund more Mental Health services to help prevent these problems & increase intervention?

    • Talk to the Republicans and the Trump administration, who refuse to fund the CDC regarding gun use, and who also deprive local governments of sufficient support for public mental-health care. Look at the opioid crisis, for a parallel example.

    • Kate

      People who suffer from mental illness are far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a perpetrator.

      • Livegreen

        Fair enough. But both can be true. And just b/c what you say is true doesn’t mean we should ignore the mental health of potential perpetrators. We’re ignoring them right now. What does it get us? More death.

        Instead they need to be treated immediately and work with therapists to learn how to deal with the root causes of their rage. And not wait until it’s too late…

        • Kate

          We need better understanding of what can be done to ensure people have some sort of path to recovery or don’t become violent. I have seen through a few personal experiences that even when mental health “treatment” can be accessed, which is rare due to cost and availability, there is a very wide gap between what is needed and what can be done. We do not understand the mechanisms of mental health to a great enough degree, which is one reason I often feel very skeptical when treatment is spoken of as an easy solution. There is nothing easy about mental illness or the treatment of it. Even those who are wealthy often continue to suffer despite attempts at treatment.

          • Livegreen

            I agree. Indeed there is nothing easy about it. Often there is a lifetime of hurt behind it, sometimes carried across generations…thus often a lifetime of treatment to recover. At least we’re talking about it & the ACA is helping people pay for it. But so much more awareness & treatment is needed…

  • geraldfnord

    Shootings targetting [sic] specific groups seem to me like extensions of domestic violence :’my right to keep my wife in line’ extends to ‘my right to show my inferiors who’s boss’, a feeling of enforcing the world’s correct order. Religious ideas, including nationalism, have long justified both: women, children, heretics, infidels, foreigners, they all are threats to The Way Things Should Be if not frightened into toeing the line and shutting-up, and if it takes killing a few, well, they’re inferiors anyway.

    Others seem like men trying to make the outside world look like the inside of their heads, senseless and chaotic and angry and sad. Domestic violence that finally ends with a death might provoke this sort of feeling.

    I guess there’s also overlap between the two categories I’ve limned, in that for someone in the second category anyone else’s getting to feel anything better than terrible seems Wrong and must be put Right.

  • Curious

    So now its about mental health since it is shown that there were gun controls in place which, if implemented by incompetent government bureaucrats, would have prevented him from legally buying the gun.

    • There’s very little coordination (by intention?) between sources of information about individuals’ mental health and criminal activity and their ownership of guns. Sales at gun shows are completely without oversight in most jurisdictions, thanks to the NRA and its members; their health and criminal records aren’t consulted by sellers.

      • Curious

        False on all counts.

        • turquoisewaters

          Would you disagree that it is too easy for violent criminals to own a gun?

          • Curious

            Gun control laws will not stop that.

  • Regina

    I was a text-book case and despite every resource, entirely isolated and entire medical/legal community failed to help. Gavin de Becker’s,
    The Gift of Fear” changed everything: I refined assessment of how calibrated the abuse was, the power that gave me to choose to risk for a step toward goal (exit), how to tell when the “cage door” was open and act, not freeze. The root is brain damage: by impact, or nutrition; and language skills. Woman tend more capable than men, so women need to slow down and keep it simple. If he can’t use his words he’ll use his fist/wallet/car/etc. Language of Flattery works miracles on Narcissists; we need to open our homes as LightHouses and alert the cops to put us on their rounds during risk. Be compassionate to see the core of guilt/shame this bully’s tough shell is protecting. Compliment your way out of his hold. Be careful, prepare to escape with support if that’s safe, without being killed; strive to be happy and LIVE YOUR LIFE.

  • Ehkzu

    Your guests’ sayng that “violence can be unlearned” and that the gender aspect is cultural are misstaken. Men are innately more violent than women, and our sexual dimorphism proves it. Not all men are mass murderers but virtually all mass murderers are men. This is the sort of political correctness that right wingers use to dismiss everything liberals say, unfortunately.

    • geraldfnord

      I agree up to a point.

      0.) There is an average greater propensity toward aggression in men—mean, median, and mode—that cannot be undone modulo drugging or someone with an agenda and the right airborne retrovirus.
      1.) Aggression can be expressed in many different ways. One culture may hold up arguing and complaining really well as improving status, wife- and child-beating tolerated up to a point but seen as signs of masculine failure, and bar fights and the like a ticket to ostracism. Others see wordiness as effeminate and the other modes the mark of a true man.
      2.) Modes of expressing aggression are usually variable already—note that a WWII sailor on leave in a bar typically behaved different to the same sailor on leave in a home-town church. That doesn’t mean it’s easy changing reactions to cues, but knowing that you contain multitudes anyway helps.
      3.) Learning, like most else, happens more frequently and better when there are incentives for it, and disincentives against staying the same.

  • Leesa Evans

    In developed countries with successful single payer health care plans, larger percentage of Health dollars go to social services than in the US. Consequently Acute and critical care services are accessed less than in the US. Housing, unemployment and health Care benefits are available to citizens. The economic, mental health and other stressors are dealt with preventatively for public health. The single payer plans in these countries cover all citizens for approximately have the cost per capita as US healthcare which does not cover millions and has poorer health outcomes. The US could improve public Heath and safety by following these models—and spend less on healthcare.

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Curious

      In developed countries, everyone pays taxes – not just 50% of us. And they pay it at a much higher rate than we do.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor