A gunman in Bakersfield, California shot and killed his wife before shooting four others and himself Wednesday evening, in what appears to be the latest mass shooting with roots in domestic abuse.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the shooter, who has not yet been identified, began his rampage late Wednesday afternoon, when he and his wife went to a trucking company and approached another man there. Shortly thereafter, the gunman shot and killed his wife and the man.
The shooter then chased a third man who arrived at the scene of the initial shooting, ultimately killing him at a nearby Bear Mountain Sports shop. He then went to a nearby home where he shot and killed two others, before stealing a car from a woman who had a child in her vehicle. Spotted by police during his flight, the gunman pulled into a parking lot, where he shot himself in the chest as an officer approached the stolen vehicle.
“Obviously there’s some type of situation that caused the husband to be extremely upset,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told the LA Times. “Obviously these are not random shootings.”
While details of the gunman’s motive are still scarce, they point to a familiar storyline. Time and time again, cases of mass shootings reveal that the perpetrators have a history of domestic violence, emotional abuse, or hatred of women.
As ThinkProgress reporter Casey Quinlan previously reported, the list of such cases is long — from Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who had a history of berating his girlfriend in public, to Texas shooter Spencer Hight, who was violent toward his wife, to James T. Hodgkinson, who shot at Republican members of Congress during a Congressional baseball game in June and had a history of domestic disputes.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, the majority of mass shootings involve some form of domestic violence. And nearly 55 percent of all shooting incidents include victims who are the gunman’s family member or a current or former partner.
Federal gun laws enables this toxic masculinity. The “boyfriend loophole,” for instance, allows dating partners to sidestep federal prohibitions that forbid those who are convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence to buy a firearm. The only partners covered by this prohibition are those who have a child in common with the victim or who are co-habitating with the victim.
For many women, this is a death sentence, as research has shown that domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed if their partner has access to a gun. Recently, several states have passed their own laws closing the boyfriend loophole.