California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday urged leaders to discuss the role of misogyny and toxic masculinity in gun violence, pointing out that mass shooters “overwhelmingly, almost exclusively, are males, boys, men.”
“I do think that is missing in the national conversation,” Newsom said during an emergency meeting on gun violence, in response to three mass shootings in the U.S. in just one week. “If there was anything more obvious, I don’t know what is, why it is that we’ve just come to accept that, that it’s been so normalized and sort of baked in, that it’s not even debated any longer. Why does it have to be, why is it men, dominantly, always?”
“And I think that goes deep to the issue of how we raise our boys to be men, goes deeply to values that we tend to hold dear — power, dominance and aggression, over empathy, care, collaboration,” he continued. “That is a deeper conversation — forgive me — a more difficult one to have, but I want to just introduce that into this debate.”
Many mass shooters have had a history of misogyny and violence against women, in some cases being motivated to kill after a woman rejected their romantic advances. It has now become such a standard part of the story following an incident of gun violence that it’s almost surprising when the assailant doesn’t have a past that involves misogyny.
Sure enough, the suspected gunman in this weekend’s shooting in Dayton, Ohio, had been suspended from his high school after creating a “rape list” of female classmates whom he wanted to sexually assault, according to The Associated Press.
During a mass shooting last year at a Texas high school, the shooter opened fire in an art classroom, and among those killed was his ex-girlfriend. The girl’s mother, Sadie Rodriguez, told The Los Angeles Times that she “had 4 months of problems from this boy,” and “he kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.”
“A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn’t like,” Rodriguez said.
In another mass shooting last year, a man targeted a Chicago hospital, killing his ex-fiancée, a doctor at the hospital.
It’s a relentless pattern. As HuffPost’s Melissa Jeltsen wrote last year: “There’s only so many ways to say the same exact thing, over and over again.”
Adam Lanza killed his mother before his rampage through Sandy Hook elementary school. Omar Mateen beat both his wives before opening fire on revelers in Pulse nightclub. Devin Patrick Kelley, the Sutherland Springs shooter, got kicked out of the Air Force for domestic violence, and was accused of sexual assault. The Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, berated his girlfriend in public. Elliot Rodger, who killed six people on a rampage near UC Santa Barbara’s campus, splashed two “hot blonde girls” with his Starbucks latte because they didn’t smile at him.
A 2017 HuffPost investigation found that in 59% of mass shootings between 2015 and early November 2017, the suspected shooter had a history of domestic violence and/or killed an intimate partner or family member in the shooting.
In addition to high-profile mass shootings that make national headlines, many everyday incidents of gun violence in the United States involve domestic abuse.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.