Will Houston Mass Shooting Be Brushed Off As Domestic Violence?


Mass murders get most public attention when they occur in public places but this week’s Houston killing of six people was more typical of such incidents because it happened in a private home, criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University writes in USA Today. That newspaper’s database of incidents since 2006 says that just over 50 perceent of mass murders involve intimates — spouses, ex-spouses and other relatives. The Houston case is “the type of tragedy that has befallen families in all corners of the nation,” Fox writes. “Most often it involves an angry and desperate man who seeks to kill his estranged partner and all her children, seeing the kids as an extension of his primary target.”

Allegedly in Houston, Ronald Lee Haskell, 33, posing as a FedEx deliveryman, barged into a home and demanded to see his ex-wife. Fox notes that “the story will undoubtedly be short-lived in terms of the usual news cycle,” and he says it will be ignored by various organizations, such as the FBI as part of its active shooter initiative and the Mother Jones news group for its continually updated database of mass shootings in America. Family annihilations do not fall into their narrow guidelines for inclusion. The Houston shooting spree may also be ignored by various interest groups seeking legislative action to reduce the risk of mass murder, Fox says. (For a detailed account of the Houston case, see this Associated Press story.)

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