Women, children under fire: Analysis of mass shootings

A quarter of all the mass shooting fatalities in the country since 2009 were children, according to analysis released Tuesday by gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.

The group’s analysis of FBI data further found that of the more than half of cases that involved domestic or family violence, 40 percent of those victims were children.

“The phrase ‘another mass shooting’ should not be a common expression,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an Everytown affiliate, in a statement. “This new analysis reminds us that all too often women and children are the victims of gun violence in America.”

Between 2009 and 2016, there have been 156 mass shootings that claimed the lives of 848 victims, according to the group’s analysis of FBI data and media reports.    

The group released its analysis a week ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, in which 32 people were killed April 16, 2007, making it the second most deadly mass shooting behind last year’s June 12 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed.

In many of the mass shootings, 42 percent, according to Everytown, shooters exhibit warning signs. In 34 percent of those shootings noted by the group, the shooter was prohibited from possessing a gun.

“The findings of this report challenge the conventional understanding of mass shootings in the United States, revealing the true nature and dynamics of such shootings,” said Sarah Tofte, Everytown research director, in a statement. “The facts underlying these shootings also demonstrate the value of common-sense policies – like domestic violence laws that keep guns out of the hands of abusers and mechanisms that allow for temporary removal of guns from people who may be a danger to themselves or others – that will help save lives.”

After a failed attempt at federal legislation to strengthen background check law, Everytown has been pushing state initiatives to close what it calls dangerous loopholes, allowing, for example, dangerous criminals to purchase guns at gun shows and online as long as it’s not from a federally-licensed dealer.

It’s the closing of these loopholes in some states that has seen 47 percent fewer women shot to death by their intimate partners, Everytown said.

But for gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association, closing these so-called loopholes would deny individuals due process of law. Also, the gun group believes it’s a slippery slope to firearms registration, which would allow the government to know who in its citizenry has which guns, arming the system with information that could aid some future administration in confiscation.

Futher, the NRA argues, “Background checks don’t necessarily stop criminals from getting firearms. Federal studies have repeatedly found that persons imprisoned for firearm crimes get their firearms mostly through theft, the black market, or family members or friends. Less than one percent get guns at gun shows.”