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Sacramento Church Mass Shooting Follows Disturbing Trend of Domestic Violence, Mass Shooting Connection; Rise of Ghost Guns


Last week, a man shot and killed his three children and their supervisor during a visit to The Church of Sacramento. The shooter had a restraining order against him by the children’s mother and was prohibited from purchasing a firearm. However, he was able to get an AR-15 style rifle ghost gun. Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, homemade guns made from easy-to-get building blocks that can be purchased with no background check and no questions asked – including by young people. Recently, there have been several incidents of school shootings with ghost guns in Maryland, New Mexico, and Kansas

Ghost guns are proving to be a growing problem in California. In the state, 30 percent of guns recovered by ATF have no serial number on them, making it impossible for law enforcement to trace. Also, last year 20% of all guns recovered by the Los Angeles Police Department were ghost guns. While California has important policies in place to regulate ghost guns, enforcement remains critical. This session, legislators are considering several additional policies that would further address bad actors and accessibility of ghost guns. 

In addition to showcasing how dangerous and pervasive ghost guns are, the shooting in Sacramento highlighted the inextricable link between domestic violence and mass shootings. In fact, research shows that in more than half of mass shootings over the past decade, the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member as part of the rampage. And nearly 3 in 4 children and teens killed in mass shootings died in an incident connected to domestic violence.

This connection also goes beyond just domestic violence. Far-right extremism is a growing threat in the United States. Several recent mass shootings, an increase in extremist activity, and the January 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol have drawn national attention to violent far-right extremism. Increasingly, experts have identified misogyny as an ideology that motivates violence and can be a component of far-right extremism. Many of the mass shootings attached to misogyny also have links to domestic violence. 

More research on ghost guns and domestic violence: 

  • Ghost Guns
    • There is at least one seller in 26 states across the country who is selling the core building blocks for a ghost gun.
    • More than two-thirds of the 80 online firearms sellers identified started selling ghost gun building blocks only within the past five years.
    • More than 2,500 ghost guns were connected to criminal activity in 114 federal cases from 2010 to April 2020.
  • Domestic Violence
    • Every month, an average of 70 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.
    • Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will die at the hands of a domestic abuser.
    • 4.5 million women have reported being threatened with a gun by an intimate partner.

To speak with a policy expert or researcher on the connection between mass shootings and domestic violence or the rise of ghost guns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.