mass murderers why do they kill
courtesy daily.jstor.org

The following is a presentation that was given at this year’s Gun Rights Policy Conference. 

By Robert B. Young, MD

I thought we might talk about mass murderers, who they are and why they kill. Most use firearms, but the issues are the same regardless of the methods. This is not a major cause of mortality, but worth addressing just because everyone is talking about it.

First, some perspective. The FBI defines mass murders as four fatalities (not including the perpetrator) killed in one episode by a stranger. This excludes domestic violence, family slaughters and less accomplished attempts at mass murder. (Multiple family murders are different in that they are crimes of violence.) There is controversy about how many fatalities, injuries or circumstances should be defined as mass murder or attempts, but the FBI definition clearly includes unequivocal mass murder, whereas lesser events can sometimes be interpreted in other ways.

There have been on average well under 100 fatalities from these per year in the U.S. since 1982 (2017 is an outlier with 117). This represents less than 1/3% of all deaths by gunshot, and less than 1% of all homicides—not a significant risk by any standard.

Demography sheds little light. Perpetrators can be of any age, although are usually white male. But recall the African-American D.C. snipers and the Naval Yard shooter, the woman who attempted a Rite-Aid massacre September 21, the Asian shooter at Virginia Tech, and the Hispanic at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. The worst 12 mass killings during early 2017 were committed by seven black males, one black female, one white male, a Puerto Rican, an El Salvadoran, and a Hmong.

Attacks are most often carried out solo—but couples committed ones on the Las Vegas strip and at the San Bernadino Christmas party.

Locations may be rural, urban, suburban—anywhere, but are generally committed on the attacker’s home turf. Seeming exceptions may not really diverge. The Jacksonville video game shooter brought weapons from his home in Maryland, but competing in video game meets was part of his lifestyle.

They are virtually always committed in “gun-free zones”. Here that means 98% of the time over the past 68 years.

Violence is often blamed on mental illness. But only about 4% of violent assaults can be primarily attributed to serious mental illnesses suffered by perpetrators. And people with these illnesses are rarely aggressive and are far more likely to become victims of violence than the rest of us.

By contrast, it appears that potentially treatable major mental illness is present in about half of all mass shooters. The greatest risk is from paranoid schizophrenia, but acute mania and perhaps autism have occurred, too. (The assailants at Aurora movie theater and the Ft. Lauderdale shooters were reportedly psychotic with delusions. The Newtown and Isla Vista shooters were said to be autistic, which would enable their intense focus on planning their attacks.)

More important, none come to mind who were in treatment at the time of their assaults. Some had previous treatment, but many never came to attention.

The careful planning required to execute a mass attack depends upon functional intellect, judgment and cognitive abilities. This eliminates the very ill in whom these capacities are significantly impaired. This should also eliminate any reasonable claim to not guilty by reason of insanity in court, as well, despite the psychiatric illness. In sum, mental illness may help shape the motives behind and the occurrence of mass murder, but is very rarely itself the cause.

Drug and alcohol abuse, whether as a state of intoxication or withdrawal, is sometimes in play, but is not a primary cause of these attacks. Intoxication can disinhibit the tendency toward acting out in ways normally suppressed, and either can increase irritability and reduce reality orientation. Either way, this can exacerbate the risk of violence but, again, does not primarily cause the sort of intentional plan necessary to killing many people.

Narcissism, sociopathy, and psychopathy are present in a high proportion of perpetrators of any violence, but these are untreatable psychiatric conditions. We’ll review them because they are pathological factors in violence, and to understand how they don’t contribute as much as commonly believed to mass murder.

A narcissist is highly self-focused, and relates to others only for his own fulfillment. He manipulates people in order to be liked and admired, which doesn’t usually affect casual acquaintances much, who can take him or leave him. But in close relationships, those expectations and selfishness causes conflicts unless he’s connected to a very passive, dependent partner.

The downside of narcissism is that it is impossible for anyone consistently to interact as needed, and “narcissistic injury” is a frequent outcome. Although these perceived hurts by others or society at large would become learning occasions for healthy persons, they can feel devastating to the narcissist. The desire to revenge those hurts (e.g., being rejected or bullied) is probably the most common factor in developing and executing a plan to get payback from a certain group or just anyone. Pathological narcissism, the insatiable need for admiration and reward, leads to enormous hurt for the individual and probably is a common factor in taking revenge en masse. (For example, the Sutherland Springs and the Isla Vista shooters.)

Someone with an antisocial personality (a sociopath) has no respect for others’ rules, laws or desires. They don’t sense others’ feelings and are unable to experience empathy for others. This leaves them adrift socially, although they’ll gladly manipulate anyone to meet their own goals, which usually leads to criminal activity along the way. These folks burn anyone who tries to be friends and typically end up incarcerated. By late middle age their antisocial behaviors often diminish as a result of the consequences they’ve learned they get, not because of any change in their make-up.

Psychopaths are another species altogether. They do sense others’ feelings and can act empathic and interested in them. However, this is not genuine, but rather is a means to their end of dominating every person they relate to. They are very smooth and usually undetectable until their enjoyment of others’ distress becomes too obvious. This sadistic pleasure in controlling and hurting others is typically even sexually stimulating.

Antisocial personalities and psychopaths are types worth understanding, but they are not the usual mass murderers. It can be a struggle to manage with an antisocial personality, but they generally don’t act out in a big ways like mass assault. They are trying to get by, not die. Similarly, the psychopath isn’t interested in making a statement. He wants to keep enjoying his thrills as long as possible, which means serial killing, not one and done with a single dramatic, public episode.

Religious, political and philosophical beliefs have motivated mass murder. The greatest current problem is certainly radical fundamentalist Islam, which expects to convert, conquer or destroy unbelievers in order to make the faith victorious. This is equivalent to eschatological motives, intending to bring about the end times, which an occasional Christian or Jew has cited as reason for attack. There are obviously political reasons intertwined with these acts, too. Anarchy and nihilism motivate some mass murders (e.g., the Oklahoma City bombing, and probably the Mandalay Bay massacre). Racism takes its place, too (e.g., the Charleston church shooter).

The effects of violent imagery are the biggest societal problem contributing to violence of all kinds, including mass murders. We know two things about this:

Showing children videos of aggressive behaviors increases their own aggressive thoughts and behaviors shortly after the exposure.

Frequent exposure to anything desensitizes its impact and normalizes the idea of participating in it. A very clear example comes from suicide clusters in schools. Once one student suicides, others in the same school are more likely than normal to attempt that soon after.

The big question is whether chronic exposure to violent depictions in media and gaming increases aggression and violence as a primary way of relating to others. Those two findings, along with observing kids modeling play after their favorite TV characters, strongly suggest that this answer is “Yes”. (The Newtown shooter’s immersion in violent video games is an example.)

The big problem is that none of these factors occurs with every shooter, fully explains their acts, or can be identified in advance. So none can predict that a particular individual will commit such a crime, or when.

There are sometimes warning signs known to family, friends, acquaintances, law enforcement or at work—these need to be taken very seriously and investigated. We must, if we “see something, say something”—and then someone has to do something. “Do something” can’t be just removing weapons without due process—it must include mental health and/or police intervention as indicated. But most mass murderers are loners and don’t reliably hint at their plans.

What we can do is maximize deterrence and minimize casualties when attacks occur. Yesterday, a brave young man, Kyle Kashuv (who survived the Parkland high school shooting) told us the best answer: harden the targets. Part of that means being prepared to defend them—anywhere, anytime, and from anyone.

 

DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article was originally published at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission. 

105 COMMENTS

    • Wow, this is actually the shortest, and probably most accurate answer here. Give someone “authority” and “immunity” and a license to kill, well, guess what they do? Without a moral compass, they will murder, rape, and pillage their way to whatever they want.

      Immunity from consequence could be a factor, if a mass murderer is committed to dying anyway, whatever the law says the punishment should be, to them, is utterly irrelevant.

      • Reality does not support your delusion. There’s been how many police officers who were mass shooters? Maybe one? Maybe?
        When your fantasies don’t match reality, reality isn’t wrong.

        • “Delusion is a serious mental illness.”

          I thought Delusion was a small town in southern Louisiana. Sure there was a sign for it on a back road somewhere down there.

        • This year on ABC, NBC World News a Police Officer was arrested in California as a serial killer committing this crimes over serval decades. Not caught until in retirement and no longer active as as serial killer.

    • I’m sure you are some fat neckbeard with an inferiority complex, slobbering while you watch BWC footage thinking about what a much better job you could have done. Bugger off dude. Murder? Nah. Police murder someone maybe once or twice a year. Bad, yes, but it’s not the epidemic you make it out to be. I’m sure you have sooooo much use of force training and experience to back it up though, don’t you?

        • Cavendish…. the clinical definition would be: narcissist, psychopath, anti-social, or sociopath.

          Sam, et al. : You guys must have some really $hitty cops where you live to have that tainted of a view. I criticize cops all the time here, but what goes through your guys’s heads is a whole other level.

        • Where I am at the total number of cops on the city police force is over 2,000 and 87% of them are related by blood or marriage and the other 13% are there buddies. You talk about total corruption and this is it.

  1. The author’s premise that mental illness does not play a large factor in mass killings is just wrong. EVERY mass shooter in the last generation was on some type of psychotropic drug and either modified or stopped taking his medication. It is likely that many of these mass shooters were prescribed these drugs for conditions that would not warrant such “chemical behavior modification”. Being “fidgety” in school is normal for rambunctious boys, who are merely behaving as normal boys. When teachers can recommend that boys be drugged (rarely are girls drugged) so that they will be more compliant, making the teacher’s job easier, that is but one instance of educational malpractice.

    • Reread the article more closely.

      “By contrast, it appears that potentially treatable major mental illness is present in about half of all mass shooters.”

    • Often they will prescribe more than one drug to be taken at the same time although these have not had clinical testing as to how they interact together. These drugs are bad enough by themselves as the opposite effect has occurred many times.

    • Statistics on individuals with mental illness being mostly passive and homicides, violent activity is correct. However some of this information is out dated. One example is sociopathic disorder is now treatable with years of therapy serval times a week. Problem is most sociopaths are in denial and refuse to do the work necessary to change. Regarding differences in some individuals with mental illness being to sick to commit crime would relate to those who suffer from serious depression. Different diagnosis different set of symptoms, different set of behaviors or effect. However there are exceptions within every person and some people with depression are angry or irritable. Many symptoms can over lap in some diagnoses and some individuals can have multiple diagnosis. Very complicated! Currently red flag laws don’t encourage these individuals to work with their doctors they just strip rights creating more stigma, hysteria and discrimination. Law makers enacting these laws are not educated in these medical conditions or even considering their acts as discrimination because of agendas related to gun prohibition.

  2. In the context of the article, these statements seem to be at odds.

    “The worst 12 mass killings during early 2017 were committed by seven black males, one black female, one white male, a Puerto Rican, an El Salvadoran, and a Hmong.”

    and

    “The greatest current problem is certainly radical fundamentalist Islam,”

    I realize the first quote was about race, and the second about religion. But which of the killings cited in 2017 were attributed to radical fundamentalist Islam?

  3. They are virtually always committed in “gun-free zones”. Here that means 98% of the time over the past 68 years.

    So, to translate, we can eliminate 98% of all mass murders by ending GFZs. Sure looks like a good place to start.

  4. “The effects of violent imagery are the biggest societal problem contributing to violence of all kinds, including mass murders.”

    Bull. The BIGGEST societal problem contributing to violence of all kind are children being raised in abusive or fatherless, poverty stricken broken homes. Pretending that kids playing Call of Duty are some how more desensitized to violence than their Gunsmoke-watching cowboy-pretend-playing grandparents is a farce. It’s funny that the same people that claim children today are pansies and too sensitive are the same ones that claim we’re turning them into blood thirsty sociopaths with video games.

    That same kind of forcing blame where it doesn’t reside is the reason why every NRA mailer I get is promptly tossed in the trash.

    • Yeah I call foul on that one too. If that were the case, the combat veteran population would be over represented in mass murderers. A combat vet being a mass murderer is extremely rare.
      Also, the author says, in once sentence, that radical fundamentalist Islam is the biggest threat, and in another statement, that violent imagery is the “biggest societal problem”. Which is it?

    • First off let me say this. I don’t believe that media causes violence. But there was a very big difference between the media violence we were exposed to in the day and what’s being shown now. Gunsmoke, Bonanza, John Wayne, etc. These shows were not overly graphic in their depiction of violence and there was always a moral code, a message of right and wrong. There were always good guys and bad guys.

      Clint Eastwood replaced John Wayne as the all American cowboy hero. And the hero changed. “Unforgiven” was a movie with no good guys in it. The man that was the meanest, most violent and willing to soak the town in blood won. But that didn’t mean he was the good guy.

      I don’t know if there’s any good guys in video games or any moral message. I don’t play them.

      • I second your notion that mass media is the culprit. To paraphrase Risky a bit, it’s a parenting issue. Abusive households and single parent households contribute, lack of parenting is almost the main culprit. Look at the monsters that shot up Columbine HS. One of the parents found a pipe bomb in the house. They admitted to tossing it out (IIRC) and did not punish/discipline them. This lack of parental oversight is as much a culprit as the other factors. If anyone wants to argue that it is Mass Media, then step up and be a parent. Look at what your kid is looking at online, what game they are currently playing, and what movies they are watching. Many of the games they reference (Call of Duty, GTA, Mortal Kombat, etc.) I have played and would not let any child under 15 play without a discussion. Maybe I am the outlier, but having seen what most parents pass off as parenting these days pisses me off, especially when they are the first to call for taking away my guns.

    • The notion of kids being pansies and too sensitive isn’t really at odds with the sociopathic behavior, though. Back in the late Mesozoic, when I was a kid, bullying was certainly present but kids weren’t so ultra-sensitive about their feelz – and had no social media to lament their emo. If you were bullied (and if someone looked cross-eyed at you, it wasn’t really considered bullying) you either sucked it up and got on with your life, or you confronted the issue. I was small for my age and dealt with that kind of thing quite a bit.

      Now – it seems like kids don’t really learn how to interact normally with other humans. With the steady diet of participation awards and time outs, they either saturate their Facebook or Twitter accounts with constant posting about how awfully they are treated, or they simmer on it until they decide on a big revenge. I’d submit that the gap between a pussified male teen who’s main emotional outlet is violent video games, and a mass murderer, isn’t that large.

  5. Half of those pictured above are Jewish, something not mentioned in the article. At 50% of the members in this sample, coming from a population comprised of 2-3% of the US population, I would say they way are over represented here. There are more NOT pictured.

    What’s up with that? Don’t believe me, or want to call me a deflecting name? Look it up yourself.

    Dan Z., do you have any insight? I really want to know.

  6. Quite a rouges gallery of crazy murderous loser’s ya’ pictured. 2 or 3 certifiably insane. And mebbe all drugged upped. Hey where’s that boy who ran people over and gutted his asian roomies…wasn’t he Asberger’s?!?

  7. Settled fact: If only criminals had guns, there would be fewer mas shootings (How many mass shootings were done by known criminals?How many by people not known to be criminals beforehand?).

    Settled fact: If all the people other than police and military did not have guns, the number of deaths and injuries due to use of guns would be near zero.

    Settled fact: If all the people were denied access to, and ownership of, guns, crazy people could not just “go off” and shoot innocent bystanders.

    Settled fact: Guns are the sole common element in deaths and injuries caused by gunfire.

    Settled fact: If guns were removed entirely from the populace, people would have to use other means to kill each other (which is just fine because they wouldn’t be using guns).

    How hard can this be?

    • “…How hard can this be?”

      Settled fact: Death is a sexually transmitted disease.

      Settled fact: people who think getting shot makes you more dead are not right in the head. Or in the heart.

      Settled fact: saying, out loud even, that you are ok with people getting killed as long as they aren’t shot to death makes everyone here wish there was a block person option.

      • “Settled fact: saying, out loud even, that you are ok with people getting killed as long as they aren’t shot to death makes everyone here wish there was a block person option.”

        Perhaps reading beyond the superficial would a useful exercise?

        • “..Perhaps reading beyond the superficial ”

          Ok, why not.

          You said “…, people would have to use other means to kill each other (which is just fine because they wouldn’t be using guns).”

          And that a copy-paste of you words. Your words where you say you are just fine with people getting dead as long as they wouldn’t be shot to death? Defend your own words if you can.

    • I can’t tell if you’re incredibly naive or if you’re being a sardonic troll. Maybe I’ve told you this before, it’s hard to keep track of who has said what on this blog.

      It’s gotta be the latter. That last remark….

      • “I can’t tell if you’re incredibly naive or if you’re being a sardonic troll. ”

        When I read how someone is “Hitler”, or some political position is “Nazi”, interest in what follows falls to zero.

        Same with “troll”; as if that term were Kryptonite to a contributor here. As if the term “troll” was a serious counterpoint.

        It’s no fun if I have to laugh at my own jokes (such as using “/s”, or “sarc”) in order to ridicule leftist idiots.

    • Dear Sam I Am, your sophomoric “settled facts” are NOT actually settled.

      For example, take this gem: “Settled fact: If all the people other than police and military did not have guns, the number of deaths and injuries due to use of guns would be near zero.” This is COMPLETELY FALSE. The biggest mass murderers in history are actually governments, specifically “progressive” communist governments, in which only the police and military had guns. At the current US annual murder rate it would take over 1,000 years to equal the murder count of Josef Stalin.

      And this logical impossibility: “Settled fact: If guns were removed entirely from the populace, people would have to use other means to kill each other (which is just fine because they wouldn’t be using guns).” To start, the premise is stupid. Furthermore, the murder rates in Britain and Australia WENT UP after they essentially banned guns. Granted, they started lower and are lower than the US murder rate, but the US murder rate has actually gone DOWN as concealed carry has proliferated. Back when DC was the murder capital of the world, guns were banned in DC. Civilian handgun ownership is essentially banned in Russia – and strictly enforced (except for the political mafia) – and yet Russia’s murder rate is higher than the US murder rate. Handgun ownership in Jamaica has been essentially banned since 1967, and yet the murder rate in Jamaica is about the same as the “progressive utopia” of Baltimore.

      I could go on eviscerating your childish “settled facts”, but you get the point. Or you would if you are intellectually honest.

    • “How hard can this be?”

      This is simple, Sam. By creating the 2nd Amendment, the founders of our nation intended for my right to defend myself to outweigh your desire to feel safe. Deal with it.

      • “…the founders of our nation intended for my right to defend myself to outweigh your desire to feel safe. Deal with it.”

        OFWGs from the 18th century, who could not imagine the technological changes of the late 20th century, who could not imagine a nation of 320,000,000 people, who could not imagine a non-agrarian society, who could not anticipate cities of 2.7 million, 3.9 million, or 8.6 million, could not imagine psychotropic drugs (or their impact), who could not conceive the complexities and crises of a nation spread from ocean to ocean, these were the people who carved an amendment from “need”: need to fight off Indians; need to defend against a national “standing army of no more than twenty five thousand, to thirty thousand” (J.Madison); need to provision a family (agrarian/pioneer) . OFWGs who could not ever believe the national government would expand the standing army in such a way as to obliterate the abilities of local militias to intimidate. All those needs have long since disappeared from the national fabric.

        The nation has no need of the Second Amendment, which should be repealed, and strict gun control substituted. On the other hand, perhaps the acceptable ~30,000 gun deaths per year is telling us we have not crawled out of the primitive minds that prevailed in 1789. That is our shame.

        BTW, you really should re-read my prior comment on “facts” to understand what it really says.

        • “…FWGs from the 18th century, who could not imagine the technological changes of the late 20th century, ”

          Why does that reasoning not get applied to any of the other Ammendments? Do you think the Fourth Ammendment should be repealed because there is no way those OFWG’s could have imagined telephones that needed to be tapped? If not, why not?

        • “Why does that reasoning get applied to any of the other Ammendments?”

          I could continue to argue Dimowit positions, but we are way off point. My original comment (and I hate having to give the game away) was mockery of anti-gun arguments.

          If you want to continue to engage in challenge and response to Dimowits, as a means of honing rhetoric skills, we can continue on that avenue. Always glad to help make pro-gun supporters stronger.

    • Sam, Sam, Sam, what a silly boy you are.
      “Settled fact: If all the people other than police and military did not have guns, the number of deaths and injuries due to use of guns would be near zero.”
      Really? What is settled fact is that there is no way to remove all the guns from the population. The best you can do is make criminals of the otherwise law-abiding armed citizenry(who own what? 80%-90% of the guns?) so only criminals, police and military have guns.
      “Settled fact: Guns are the sole common element in deaths and injuries caused by gunfire.”
      H2O is the sole common molecule in deaths by drowning. Just sayin’

      • Be careful – know what you are reading.

        But since you brought it up….
        “Really? What is settled fact is that there is no way to remove all the guns from the population. ”
        – “Facts” are not dependent on utility or practicability
        – – We could use that standing army gun owners are so afraid of, to remove guns from the criminal enclaves, if we the people really cared about people, and an enlightened and sophisticated society.

        “H2O is the sole common molecule in deaths by drowning. Just sayin’”
        – The discussion is about guns; not water. However, you did not refute my “fact”

        BTW, here is a settled fact that wasn’t even included: Since the Parkland shooting, 55 new gun control laws have been passed among 24 states. How many gun control laws have been overturned/repealed/removed. Maybe sensible gun control is more popular than you imagine?

    • I have a couple of questions with your “solutions” as stated above.
      1. Isn’t the idea of a government using the might of a standing army against civilians an abuse of power and one of the reasons we HAVE a Second Amendment?
      2. How will outlawing the ownership of firearms be any more successful than Prohibition or the so called war on drugs. Both alcohol and drugs are/were banned and possession of either were or are criminal acts. Neither has been successful. What makes you think
      guns would be different?

      • “1. Isn’t the idea of a government using the might of a standing army against civilians an abuse of power and one of the reasons we HAVE a Second Amendment?”

        From my response to @Garrison Hall:
        “….these were the people who carved an amendment from “need”: need to fight off Indians; need to defend against a national “standing army of no more than twenty five thousand, to thirty thousand” (J.Madison); need to provision a family (agrarian/pioneer) . OFWGs who could not ever believe the national government would expand the standing army in such a way as to obliterate the abilities of local militias to intimidate. All those needs have long since disappeared from the national fabric. ”

        “2. How will outlawing the ownership of firearms be any more successful than Prohibition or the so called war on drugs.”

        – Neither of those attempts used the full power of a large standing army to suppress potential insurrectionists, which would be a proper use of a standing army.

        Please note we are way off the pad from the intent of my comment mocking Dimowit blather about gun controls.

    • bans don’t work…
      tried with alcohol…failed
      tried with illegal drugs…failed
      third time will be a charm? LMAO

      • “third time will be a charm?”

        Perhaps if you read my leading comment for the third time….

        You will say, “Well, what do you know…?”

  8. “..The effects of violent imagery are the biggest societal problem contributing to violence of all kinds, ”

    I’m going to with No. You could talk me into a maybe but you’re going to have to work for it.

    You see, the same movies are shown in other countries. The same video games are played in other countries. Lots of the same violent imagery are seen by youths in lots and lots of other places. Yet they don’t have similar rates of “mass killers” in those other countries.

    The imagery may be contributory, but you already have too many variables to control for now.

    My suggestion? Find the unique data points first. The answer is probably in the shallow ends of the bell curve so don’t waste time on the middle if you are truly trying to find out what makes the unique instances unique.

    • There is no empirical evidence that substantiates the idea that seeing violent imagery (of any kind) is sufficient to cause an otherwise normal person to commit violent acts.

  9. answer: bad haircuts + gun free zones!

    Nearly all mass shootings occur in “gun free” zones, and nearly all mass shooters have really bad haircuts!

    • oh puleaze, if you are going to pick a conspiracy to believe in, believe in a conspiracy that actually has some evidence to it.

      For example, we have some pretty good evidence that Barack Obama’s publisher in the 90’s claimed he was from Kenya to make him seem more exotic, starting the whole Kenya birther thing.

      But the whole “sandy hook was a hoax” conspiracy is just stupid.

  10. What makes a mass murderer? The Catholic Church. The rest are just Holy Roller drive bus.

    • uh, do you have any stats to back that up?

      I am not aware of any correlation between Catholicism and modern mass murderers.

      Now if you are are talking about MS-13 gang members, i’d guess most of them were raised Catholic but fell far from it.

  11. What makes a murderer?

    A lack of Christian moral foundation, possibly extreme hatred of someone else, a lack of self control over urges and impulses. Other times its indoctrination of Islam, Communism, the ends justify the means, etc. Other times still, some people are just at the end of their rope and lose their shit, taking everyone around with them.

    Some people are perfectly sane and normal, they just like killing because its fun. Just 500 years ago they probably would have been prized as an axe slingin warrior. For those types, hunting is about the only legal way they can their fix.

    I’ll add in that Sociopaths aren’t immune to empathy or emotion, those are psycho paths. sociopaths can feel empathy but its lessened, it can be turned on and off like a lightswitch if its getting in the way of objective thought and reasoning, likewise with any other emotion. Its weighed, measured, analyzed, and judged, like any other data point.

    • Yup. So you better watch your back.

      Seems republicans talk guns but the democrats use them.

      Nah. I call BS on myself.

  12. what makes “a mass murderer”?

    media hoaxes ……
    name one single, solitary, ‘alleged’ mass shooting where the case has progressed through the entire gamut of the legal process and ALL evidence has been rigorously tested by competent and experienced counsel ….
    just one …..

    • what do you mean by “entire gamut of legal processes”?

      you mean like a thorough investigation that identified the perpetrator(s) and any accomplices, if there were accomplices.

      nearly ALL of them. The only one I can think of which isn’t resolved is the Las Vegas shooting.

  13. Well, it would probably help if we would stop showing their pictures like some sort of high score chart and giving them the infamy they want (TTAG I’m looking at you right now)

  14. in the end…and after countless debates….you arrive at the conclusion that nobody has any firm answers as to why people do this…….

    • “…nobody has any firm answers as to why people do this…….”

      Maybe the enviro-wackos are right. Get rid of people, and people problems go away. The theory is that the earth can only adequately and safely accommodate about 500,000 persons. spread over the globe, that would make assembling masses of people eligible for shooting almost impossible.

    • actually, we do have some pretty good evidence. More importantly, we consistently see warning signs.

      One of the most common warning signs is that the shooter(s) actually clearly state their intentions in advance in the majority of mass shootings. Adam Lanza, for example.

  15. This violent imagery thing has been bandied about before, perhaps most notably by Col. Grossman. Its only one of quite a few things he gets wrong (and rather obviously so) but that’s another story. Part of the failure here is the very basic and common confusion about correlation and causation. The fact is a super majority of boys like violent video games and movies while only the most infantisimal percentage will ever commit a serious act of violence, let alone murder, and even among murderers mass murder is extremely rare.

    The very notion that violent images beget mass murder is blatantly wrong. I’ll bet 99% of these murderers also watched cartoons and ate breakfast cereal, along with almost everyone else. Correlation V causation aside, actual (not fictional) violent imagery is apt to have the opposite effect: When you see torn bodies and hear the screaming, a healthy person is even less likely to do something that results in like situations than before.

    Focusing on what mass murderers actually have in common is telling: a history of social and emotional problems (misfits and loners) mainstreamed in public schools where they struggled to function socially. Prescriptions for SSRIs, are, I’d argue, dependant to the social and emotional issues, not a proximal cause of their murderousness. This, and liberal leaning parents/upbringing are virtually the only things a significant fraction of these killers have in common.

    I would argue that liberalism itself is only relevant in that, in the prevailing attitude of the day, I’m sure these boys were told they were “normal” had great potential, and could succeed just like everyone else. Reality, especially in public school, proved they could not in fact perform like others, that they were not normal, and they struggled to cover the basics. The cognitive dissonance, and the self loathing brought on by being told one can and is expected to get on like everyone else when one isn’t intellectually or psychologically capable of doing so is intense, as is the stress it creates.

    There was a time when we protected such children from these stresses, and from their higher functioning peers, and likewise protected their peers from them, by segregating them into either special classes, or separate schools. It was thought that this stigmatized the learning disabled and emotional unstable, and inhibited their development. The reality is that it allowed their ‘normal’ peers to correctly identify why they didn’t fit in, and to deal with them sympathetically, while at the same time it informed these unfortunate children that they were in fact different, and established different, more appropriate social and academic goals for them.

    Unless and until we recognize the disservice we do to emotionally and or intellectually challenged children by mainstreaming (not to mention the disservice to their peers) we will occasionally produce these types of mass murderers. Worse perhaps, we will continue to cause untold suffering to these children and their peers, even when, as is usual, no one actually dies.

    This is simply one more ugly result of progressive social engineering and the proliferation of progressive ideology.

    As always, the intellectually and psychologically unfortunate are not average. Lying to people about their circumstances or potential is wrong and potentially dangerous. It’s ok to admit that people are not equally skilled or capable, and pretending it isnt so doesn’t make it so. Its just more of the same denial of reality that is the hallmark of progressive ideology.

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