Connor Betts, the man who shot nine people to death in Dayton, seethed at female classmates and threatened them with violence. The motivations of men who commit mass shootings are often muddled, but one thread that connects many of them is a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online, the New York Times reports. Investigators are looking at Betts’ history of antagonism and threats toward women, and whether they played a role in the attacks. People who knew Betts recalled his dark rages and obsession with guns. The rages often were directed at female acquaintances. In high school, Betts made a list threatening violence or sexual violence against mostly girls. His threats were frightening enough that some girls altered their behavior: Try not to attract his attention, but don’t antagonize him, either.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said that in more than half of U.S. mass shootings, an intimate partner or family member of the perpetrator was among the victims. “Most mass shootings are rooted in domestic violence,” Watts said. “Most mass shooters have a history of domestic or family violence in their background. It’s an important red flag.” Federal law prohibits people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from buying or owning guns. Women who are not married to, do not live with, or have children with their abusers receive no protection. Judges can consider domestic abuse under red-flag laws in 17 states allowing police to take guns, temporarily, from people deemed dangerous. Some of these men have identified as “incels,” for involuntary celibates, an online subculture of men who express rage at women for denying them sex, and who frequently fantasize about violence and celebrate mass shooters in online discussions.