PLATTE, SOUTH DAKOTA — The South Dakota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement in response to news that four children and their mother were killed in a murder-suicide. The release comes after authorities revealed the cause of death for Nicole Westerhuis and her children, Kailey, Jaeci, Connor and Michael, to be homicide by shotgun. The shooter was Nicole’s husband, who turned the gun on himself after killing his family.
This is the first mass shooting – which the FBI defines as a shooting that kills at least four people in addition to the shooter – in South Dakota since Everytown began tracking them in 2009. Since 2009, there have been mass shootings in 41 states, including South Dakota.
STATEMENT FROM JULIE PARKER, VOLUNTEER, SOUTH DAKOTA CHAPTER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION:
“Our hearts are broken over this senseless, domestic violence tragedy – a kind of gun violence that happens all too often,” said Julie Parker, a member of the South Dakota Chapter of Moms Demand Action.
“Next month marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we urge our lawmakers – in South Dakota and Congress — to consider ways to stem the tide of violence against women and children. We know that in states with laws aimed at preventing domestic abusers from obtaining guns, women are safer. We all must do whatever it takes to keep our communities safe from such violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the community of Platte.”
Additional Research on Domestic Violence and Firearms:
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the woman will be killed.
- Guns are rarely used in self-protection against domestic violence. According to Everytown for Gun Safety’s intensive review of 105 domestic violence homicides in Arizona, firearms were used 100 times more frequently to murder an intimate partner than to kill an abuser in self-defense.
- Children are also severely affected by domestic violence shootings. During the 105 incidents in Arizona, perpetrators shot 13 children under 17, killing 11 of them. At least 44 other children were physically unharmed but present during the incidents.
- A majority of mass shootings are tied to domestic abuse. Everytown’s analysis of mass shootings from 2009 to 2014 shows that in 57 percent of mass shootings, the shooters killed intimate partners or other family members.
- More than half of women murdered with guns in 2011 — at least 53 percent — were killed by intimate partners or family members.