Rush Limbaugh dismissed the notion that Kasandra Perkins, who was killed in a murder-suicide this weekend by her boyfriend, NFL football player Jovan Belcher, would still be alive today if Belcher hadn't had a gun. In fact, there is a good chance Perkins would still be alive: Data show that guns greatly increase the probability that women who are victims of domestic violence will be killed by their abuser.
According to research by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 23 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force." From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which highlighted a 1992 study on domestic violence assaults:
The study found that in incidences of family and intimate assaults the use of guns was 12 times more likely to result in death than assaults that did not involve a firearm. Compared to knives or other cutting instruments, the involvement of a gun increased the risk of death by 3 times and compared to other weapons and bodily force, risk of death increased 23 times if a gun was involved.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that between 1976 and 2005, one third of female murder victims were killed by an intimate -- a spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend -- and more than two-thirds of the spouse and ex-spouse victims were killed by firearms. Girlfriend victims were killed by guns 56 percent of the time.
Similarly, a study by the Violence Policy Center, which concluded that the “most common catalytic component in murder-suicide is the use of a firearm,” found that women victims in murder-suicides were killed by another type of weapon or by other means in just 9 percent of cases:
During his radio show on Monday, Limbaugh noted that there are upwards of 600 murder-suicides each year, but discounted the fact that guns play any significant role.
Discussing the Belcher case, Limbaugh criticized NBC sportscaster Bob Costas for bringing up the issue of gun violence during Sunday's night football game. Costas seemed to agree with Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock's comments that “if [Belcher] didn't possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
LIMBAUGH: No, we don't know that, sadly. I'm sure there are knives in this guy's house. And I'm sure that if he wanted to strangle her, he could have, and he clearly was irrational. The gun and even the availability of it is not why he killed her. And the gun and the availability of it is not why he killed himself. But to say that, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable.
To say what I just said is to be blind and to ignore the reality staring at us, because if there were no gun, if he couldn'ta gotten the gun then she'd be alive, and he'd be alive, and the baby wouldn't be an orphan and everything would be hunky dory and the Chiefs might have even lost. Everything would have been as it should have been.
Limbaugh added: “I live in Realville and my problem is that I'm governed by logic. And some of the claims that are made by people on the left just don't hold up.”
But here's the reality: A recent study by the Violence Policy Center estimates that nearly 90 percent of all murder-suicides involved a firearm and 90 percent were committed by men. According to the center:
All major murder-suicide studies in the United States completed since 1950 have shown that firearms are by far the most common method of committing homicide, with the offender choosing the firearm for suicide as well. Estimates range from firearms being used in 80 percent to 94 percent of cases, but many other weapons, including aircraft, have been used.
VPC added that the “average age difference between the offender and primary victim was 3.3 years.”
The center's other findings included:
- Seventy-two percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or ex-girlfriend/boyfriend). Of these, 94 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.
- Fifty-five of the homicide victims were children and teens under 18 years of age. Sixty-six children and teens under age 18 were survivors who witnessed some aspect of the murder-suicide.
- Sixty-nine percent of murder-suicides involving a male murderer and three or more homicide victims were perpetrated by family annihilators.
- Most murder-suicides occurred in the home (80 percent).
- Eleven states had 10 or more murder-suicides in the six-month period of the study. In order, these states were: California (34); Florida (27); Texas (20); Louisiana (14); Pennsylvania (14); Illinois (12); Alabama (11); New York (11); Tennessee (11); Virginia (11); and, Arizona (10).
In the study's conclusion, VPC wrote:
Firearms allow shooters to act on impulse. Every major murder-suicide study ever conducted has shown that a firearm -- with its unmatched combination of high lethality and easy availability -- is the weapon most often used to murder the victims, with the offenders then turning the gun on themselves. In this study, access to a gun was the critical component for almost all of the murder-suicides.
VPC added: “If there had not been easy access to a firearm, these deaths may simply have been injuries or may not have occurred at all.”
In a Monday segment on Fox News, which has also engaged in bashing Costas for his commentary on gun violence, anchor Jon Scott questioned the tragedy's resulting focus on guns, saying, “If this guy had been able to control his anger, you know, he would still be alive today.” Scott continued: “I mean, there are all kinds of what-ifs and to come out the day after he kills the mother of his child and kills himself -- I mean, he could have done it with a butcher knife.”
However, in its analysis of intimate homicides between 1976 and 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that at least 12 percent of spouse and ex-spouse victims were killed by knife, as opposed to 20 percent of girlfriend victims.