There's one clear link between the deadliest mass shootings in America - and it isn't a mental health problem

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texas church mass shooting first baptist Eric Gay / AP Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri join a news conference near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

  • Nine out of the 10 deadliest mass shooting perpetrators have a history of threatening, committing, or verbalizing domestic violence
  • Perpetrators of domestic violence are supposed to be barred from buying guns nationwide
  • High-capacity firearms have been relatively easy for recent killers to get their hands on.


As America confronts a growing list of catastrophic mass shootings a troubling trend is emerging.

Nine of the shooters on this list of the top 10 most deadly mass shootings in modern America either committed violence against women, threatened violence against women, or disparaged women.

According to the non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety, the majority of mass shootings in the US are in some way related to domestic or family violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence are legally barred from buying guns, according to federal law. But many have been able to get high-capacity firearms anyway.

President Trump suggested that mental illness is to blame for the killings that happened at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas over the weekend, but scientists say the real problem is that violent, impulsive, and angry men are getting their hands on guns.

The shooter, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, was kicked out of the Air Force for "bad conduct" years ago. That conduct included assaulting his wife and her child.

The Air Force never reported those details to the FBI, even though the Pentagon requires convicts like Kelley to be added to a federal database for gun background checks. Kelley also sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church where the shooting happened on Sunday.

Forensic psychiatrist Liza Gold, who teaches psychiatry at Georgetown and edited the book Gun Violence and Mental Illness , told Business Insider that mass shooters tend to be "impulsive and angry about a lot of different things" and many have a history with law enforcement or violence (especially domestic violence).

Kelley is just one example. Omar Mateen, the man who carried out the Orlando shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, reportedly beat his wife and called her the Afghan word for "slut." And both the shooters in San Bernardino and the recent Las Vegas killings at Mandalay Bay had stalked or abused women in the past .

That means America's four deadliest shootings in modern history were all committed by people who had problems with violence or aggression towards women.

The fifth deadliest shooting (in Sandy Hook, Connecticut) was committed by a man who'd threatened to kill his mother years before he gunned her and 26 other people down at an elementary school. The sixth deadliest shooting took place in Killeen, Texas in 1991, when a man drove his pickup truck though the front window at Luby's Cafeteria shouting "All women of Killeen and Belton are vipers!"

The one exception on this list is number 10. P ostal wor ker Patrick Sherrill - the man behind the term "going postal" - shot up the Edmond, Oklahoma post office where he worked in 1986, killing 14 colleagues and then himself.

Even though the US government bans scientists at the CDC from researching gun violence, a now decades-long trend is clear: Violent, armed perpetrators of domestic violence are a deadly force in America.

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