Four days before a black-clad gunman walked into a south Texas church and sprayed the congregation with bullets, killing at least 26 people, late-night host Samantha Bee highlighted the connection between men with a history of domestic violence and the perpetrators of mass shootings.
The alleged shooter in Sutherland Springs, 26-year-old former Air Force airman Devin Kelley, was court-martialed in 2012 and sentenced to a year in military prison for assaulting his wife and child, an Air Force spokeswoman told The Washington Post. The Post also reported that Kelley faced a misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals in Colorado after being discharged from the military for bad conduct in 2014.
In her segment, Bee challenges the claim that it’s impossible to predict or prevent mass shootings.
“Mass shootings are scary and impossible to predict, except for this one big thing that’s a really big predictor,” she says. “The common thread is domestic violence.”
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Bee cites a study from the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, which found that 54 percent of mass shootings involved a partner or other family member being killed.
A brief look at the recent history of notable mass shooters seems consistent with the theory.
- James Fields, the man charged with ramming his car into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville in August and killing one, reportedly hit his mother and threatened to beat her, the Chicago Tribune reported.
- James Hodgkinson, the man who shot at Steve Scalise and other members of Congress at a baseball game in June, was arrested for domestic battery against his daughter in 2006, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
- Omar Mateen, the shooter who murdered 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, had an extensive history of abusing his wife, reported The New York Times.
- Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter who killed 32 people in 2007, was investigated for stalking two classmates two years before, reported NPR.
“Abused women are the canary in the coal mine for mass shootings,” Bee says, before advocating for stronger laws to keep guns away from those convicted of domestic violence.
Most people convicted of domestic violence are already prohibited from possessing guns, yet Kelley was able to obtain one despite his conviction and jail sentence. He purchased the firearm from a sporting goods store in April 2016, according to ABC News.
Twitter users pointed to Bee’s segment as eerily prescient in the light of Sunday’s shooting.