Only three and a half months into 2018 and the number of mass shootings continues to climb at an alarmingly steady rate. The Gun Violence Archive has an estimated running total counting 34 mass shootings since mid-February. In the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, a Florida prosecutor announced Tuesday he would be seeking the death penalty for the shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Although it is unusual for someone as young as Cruz to face the death penalty, he has one glaring commonality with the majority of other mass shooters, a history of domestic violence. In Minnesota, the courts seem to be notably slow when it comes to enforcing restrictions on the availability of guns to people who have unmistakable abusive tendencies; past or present.
Bad ending to an even worse story
Up to fifty percent of the perpetrators behind mass shootings have intimate knowledge of the tangled interworking of domestic violence situations. As the saying goes; “where there is smoke, there is fire,” and these types of killers almost always include a chapter on partner violence in their disturbed background histories. Individuals who have extreme controlling tendencies with easy access to guns can be pushed to exert their power over their partner with violence at the slightest appearance of a stressor. Often abusers feel the most threatened when their control is challenged in any way.
No commitment necessary
Local media outlet KARE-11 analyzed several thousand different domestic violence cases in which there was alleged gun use. Abusers are required to surrender their guns and from that point on, the order remains in limbo. There is little to no follow-up once the abuser is told to turn over their firearms. After examining records from 2016, the TV station found that of the 3,000 orders for protection about 120 had firearm transfers filed in court.
Minnesota enacted the Domestic Violence Firearm Act in 2014. If domestic abuse occurs, judges are allowed to issue an immediate order of protection. Within three days of receiving the request, the alleged abusers must surrender or transfer all weaponry. Additionally, the offender needs to include a document listing in detail where the guns are currently located. Having these laws in place may seem like a sure thing in theory. However, it is in the execution where Minnesota is lacking. The state is unknowingly setting a deadly precedent.