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Violence Policy Center

JANUARY 31, 2006
11:46 AM

CONTACT: Violence Policy Center
Marty Langley, 202-822-8200 ext. 109,

Goleta, California, Postal Shooting Latest Example of Unique Facilitating Role Guns Play in Murder-Suicide
Role of Guns, Other Patterns of Murder-Suicide, Identified in VPC Study American Roulette, the Largest Study of Murder-Suicide in the U.S. Ever Conducted

WASHINGTON - January 31 - The murder of six former co-workers and subsequent suicide by a Goleta, California, ex-postal worker fits the tragic pattern--the use of a firearm--that defines almost all of the more than 1,300 estimated deaths that result each year from murder-suicide, according to the Violence Policy Center (VPC). In 2002, the VPC published the largest study of murder-suicides ever conducted, American Roulette: The Untold Story of Murder-Suicide in the United States. The study was based on data collected in the first six months of 2001. It found that California--with 29 murder-suicide incidents in the first half of 2001--was second only to Florida, and tied with Texas, in the number of murder-suicides incidents. For the full text of the study, please see The study is currently being updated by the VPC using 2005 incidents for release later this year.

Findings of the 2002 study included:

  • Unlike the Goleta, California, murder-suicide, where a woman was the shooter, the VPC study found that men were the murderers in 90.4 percent of incidents.

  • The VPC study found that 94.5 percent of murder-suicide incidents studied involved a firearm, most often a handgun.

  • The VPC study estimates that there are more than 1,300 murder-suicide deaths per year.

  • Unlike the Goleta, California, shooting, 76 percent of murder-suicides analyzed in the VPC study occurred in the home.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, "Most people think of suicide as a solitary act. In fact, many people with suicidal thoughts are also intent on taking other people with them, and guns make it far too easy to commit mass murder-suicide. America needs to fully understand the risk of murder-suicide and the pivotal role that firearms play."


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