Hatred and Violence Toward Women Often Tie Mass Killers

Attacks can begin with domestic violence, research shows
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2019 12:35 PM CDT
Hatred and Violence Toward Women Often Tie Mass Killers
Adelia Johnson, right, who briefly dated Connor Betts, said she saw warning signs. Betts showed her video of a mass shooting on their first date, and he performed in a band known for sexually violent lyrics.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

As the US dissects its recent mass shootings and tries to understand the killers' motivations in an effort to prevent the next one, at least one factor is "missing from the national conversation," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. Why are the killers men, he asked—"dominantly, always?" Researchers see a common trait among mass killers as a record of assaulting women and expressing their hatred of women, often publicly, the New York Times reports. The people killed in Dayton last weekend included Connor Betts' sister. Even acquaintances could see the danger. Most of the people on the lists he made of future victims in high school were girls, who said they tried to keep their distance but didn't want to anger him. "My mom wanted me to just not associate," one says. "She said to stay away from Connor Betts."

The investigation of Betts has found that misogyny overwhelmed any political views he had, per ABC. Mass shootings may seem more random than they are: One study found that an intimate partner or relative was among the victims in more than half of the US mass shootings in the United States from 2009 to 2017. "Most mass shootings are rooted in domestic violence," said Shannon Watts, of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The killers are angry about their lives, suicidal, and looking for someone to blame, one expert said. "For some people, that is women," she said, "and we are seeing that kind of take off." The emphasis on identifying mentally ill people who may pose a danger might not be the answer, per the Times. Psychiatrists say that like other forms of hatred, misogyny isn't necessarily a diagnosable mental illness. (More mass shootings stories.)

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