Mass shootings are getting to be virtually an everyday occurrence in the United States. While American gun violence and murder rates are declining overall, this one particular form of senseless violence holds steady, for reasons that aren’t clear to me.
About 64 percent of the shooters were white men, according to a survey by Mother Jones, about the same as the white percentage of the total population. Black people were 16 percent of the total shooters, Asians were 9 percent and Latinos, native Americans and people of unknown ethnicity made up the rest.
I honestly don’t know what can be done, realistically, to eliminate mass shootings. Obviously mass shootings could not take place if the shooters could not obtain firearms. But gun prohibition has been ruled un-Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and I don’t think it would work even if it could be tried.
The typical mass shooter is a young man obsessed with weapons and images of violence, frustrated with work, school or relationships, with a history of minor acts of violence. Mark Follman wrote a good article in the current issue of Mother Jones about efforts to identify potential mass shooters, and turn them away from violence. Possibly a lot of violent incidents have been headed off this way.
But, as he wrote, there are “legions” of angry young men who own guns and like violent movies and video games, and yet never commit crimes. I don’t see how it is feasible to monitor them all.
The baffling question is why this particular type of crime should be on the increase. Follman talked to experts who said part of the reason is social media, which gives mass shooters a perverse kind of fame. Mass shooters are typically people leading lives that are meaningless to themselves who want to make an impact—any kind of impact.
Of course we should not accept mass shootings as a new normal, but neither should we freak out if every now and then a shooter turns out to be a Muslim. If there is some link to ISIS or Al Qaeda, that is one thing, but it shouldn’t be surprising if the Muslim community turns out to include a certain number of unbalanced people just as the Christian and other communities do.
The numbers in the charts are different because there are different definitions of what constitutes a “mass shooting.” But they show the same trend, a surge in mass shootings during the past few years.
A Special Report on the Rise of Mass Shootings in America by Mother Jones.
Inside the Race to Stop the Next Mass Shooter by Mark Follman for Mother Jones. A report on efforts to identify potential mass shooters and steer them away from violence.
How Often Do Mass Shootings Occur? On Average, Every Day, Records Show by Sharon LaFraniere, Sarah Cooper and Richard A. Oppel for The New York Times.
The San Bernadino shooting continues a disturbing trend: No week since 2013 without a mass shooting by Philip Bump for The Washington Post.
Who commits mass shootings? by Dana Ford for CNN.
Mass shootings: No one’s sure how many by Nicholas Wells and Mark Fahey for MSNBC. A description of the different ways of counting mass shootings based on different definitions.
This is an expansion and rewrite done six hours after the original post.