By Brad Brooks
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Three out of four U.S. children and teens killed in mass shootings over the past decade were victims of domestic violence and generally died in their homes, according to a study released on Thursday by the gun control group Everytown.
While the specter of school shootings looms darkly in the minds of American parents who remember massacres in Newtown, Connecticut; Parkland, Florida, and around the country, the group’s review of shootings from 2009 through 2018 found far more children are killed in their own homes.
“These are not random acts of violence, yet people have the perception that the killings come out of nowhere,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, Everytown’s research director. “That is simply not the truth.”
The Everytown report, based on police and court records, as well as media reports, found that 54% of mass shootings involved the shooter killing a family member or intimate partner.
A total of 1,121 people were killed in 194 mass shootings in the decade examined – one-third of whom were children or teens.
Nearly two-thirds of all mass shootings took place entirely inside homes, the study found.
Burd-Sharps said Everytown hopes that its report helps the public gain more understanding about the statistical realities of mass shootings, which it defines as an incident that kills at least four people, excluding the shooter.
The federal government and other groups set a lower threshold for what constitutes a mass shooting. Those definitions can result in higher totals than Everytown’s count.
Only 1% of the nearly 35,000 gun deaths averaged in the United States each year in the past decade involved mass shootings, but Burd-Sharps said she believes public interest in them can help propel gun-safety legislation that could cut gun deaths across the board.
At the top of Everytown’s wish list is a “red flag” law that would allow family members or law enforcement officers to petition a judge to seize firearms from a person they think is a threat to themselves or others.
The group also believes a comprehensive federal law requiring background checks on all gun sales would quickly be effective in decreasing gun deaths.
The link between domestic violence in mass shootings was seen this week in San Diego, when a man who had a restraining order against him killed his wife and three of their four young sons before taking his own life.
“When you look at all these cases of kids who lost their lives, if some family member had been able to heed the warning signs and temporarily had guns removed from the home, many of those children would still be alive,” Burd-Sharps said.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot)