Gun Violence

A Recipe for Making Mass Shooters

Now that we’ve had another horrific mass shooting grab the nation’s attention by the pussy, it seems like a good time to get the post that I had wanted to write after the last horrific mass shooting but, being a part-time blogger and a full-time citizen just couldn’t quite get around to.

Because Ye Olde Blogge is based primarily on psychological findings, we are, by necessity, concerned about motivation: what motivates mass shooters to mass shoot everyone? After the Atlanta Asian massage parlor shootings, we posted about the three types of mass shooter. No spoilers, you’ll have to go to the article to find out what they are!

This time we’ll use the research of Jillian Peterson and James Densley as reported on in Politico in their article, Two Professors Found What Creates a Mass Shooter. Will Politicians Pay Attention? These two eggheads decided to see if they could waste a few government dollars and get rich off of their hatred of America by looking for commonalities between mass shooters. What a waste of time, amirite? We all know the commonalities: white shooters are trouble young men that society has failed, Black men are rabidly violent madogs that must be put down, and anyone with a vaguely Arabic sounding name is a Islamic terrorist bent on cutting off all of our heads and giving us all monkeypox.

Petersen’s and Densley’s idea was that if we could understand the commonalities of mass shooters, then we might could start preventing them. I know. Crazy, right? Leave it to some CRT-loving socialism indoctinating university pRoFesSoR types to come up with something as lamebrained as that.

Here’s what they did:

    • They took every mass shooting (killed four or more) since 1966. You know why 1966, right? America’s first campus mass shooting at UT Austin’s tower, right? Seventeen dead. Thirty-two wounded.
    • They took every shooting at a workplace, school, or place of worship since 1996.
    • They interviewed the parents, siblings, spouses, childhood friends, friends, co-workers, and teachers of 180 shooters.
    • They interviewed five mass shooters in prison.
    • And, they talked to some people who had planned, but didn’t execute, mass shootings.

Here’s a summary of their findings:

THE PATH: There seems to be four ingredients to the making of a mass shooter:

  1. Early childhood trauma: physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, parental suicide, extreme bullying. Some kind of early trauma has happened.
  2. A dysfunctional reaction: self-loathing, isolation, hopelessness, and despair. Rejection by peers.
  3. A crisis point: A straw breaks the camel’s toe and now the kid is acting differently.
  4. Suicide attempts: Sometimes. But the self-loathing that drives suicides begins to be externalized and focused on a group. They’re looking for someone to blame for their grievances.

SUICIDES: Mass shootings are suicides. As stated in the forensic psychology analysis of the Atlanta mass shooting, there is a thin line separating suicide and homicide. The mass shooting is a suicide that’s decided to take other people with them. They’re hoping that the good guy with the gun takes them out. It’s the goal.

THEY COME IN WAVES: It’s not your imagination, mass shootings tend to cluster. It’s like a contagion. One monkey gets a good idea, all the other monkeys see it, and suddenly everybody wants to go amass shooting. Given the amount of violence that has been primed in our society, expect things to get worse before they get better. It’s almost as if SCOTUS and other conservative elites want violence and chaos to be occurring. Hunh, go figure.

NEITHER NOR: There is no one solution, but it isn’t either or, either. It isn’t address guns or mental health; it is address guns and mental health.

  • Single most effective prevention: Gun lockers and trigger guards. Storing guns safely is the single most effective way of decreasing gun injury and death rates. That extra step helps people cool off and change their minds. It pre
  • Effective mental health check-ins: Monitoring the mental health of those around you and being able to intervene effectively helps prevent problems from arising and getting out of hand. We need to invest in providing mental health services and linking people up with them. Training people who work in schools and other institutions in suicide prevention and basic counseling skills would go along way to filling in the gap.
  • Red-flag laws: Because so many of the mass shooters had clear warnings of what was coming, you’d think someone would’ve red flagged their dumb asses and taken away their guns, but instead, we’ve made it easier for them to keep their guns. But, many states that have red flag laws don’t use them effectively. Police, teachers, and other folks need to be trained in how to use them.

Lack of Political Will or by Political Design

We’ve known for a long time what needs to get done to stop mass shootings and gun violence in our country. We lack the political will to do it. Now, it is just ridiculous. We’ve had so many and we keep doing the same stupid shit after everyone, it’s pretty clear that there is someone pretty high up in the pecking order that wants it to continue.

Someone in the Republican-conservative hierarchy wants 40,000+ Americans to die every year of violent horrible preventable gun violence. Someone wants hundreds of thousands of Americans to be traumatized by gun violence every year.

Whoever that person or those people are, they are psychopaths. These gun deaths serve a purpose for them, so we have to suffer through them. That need is to keep us divided as a nation, inflict trauma and stress on us all, and encourage mass psychosis. That purpose is to make us more easily manipulated. An

What happens every election? The Republicans trot out some racist demagoguery and whip up the racial animus in the subconscious of white suburban voters and they vote Republican by the droves like some kind of demented Pavlov and his drooling fucking dogs.


If you think that the four ingredients for making a mass shooter are interesting, so will friends, family, acquaintances, and some complete strangers that you know. Share it with them!

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Leave a comment on your thoughts on how we can prevent gun violence, mass shootings, or why we aren’t. I’d love to discuss it with you.

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Forest Descent” by Robert Drozda is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

26 replies »

  1. Howdy Jack! As much as I agree that the gun violence situation in the US is ludicrous, I think this repeats some of mythologies that undermine actually getting Americans to deal with the bigger-picture fundamentals of the problem in general. Media tends to report the dramatic episodes, usually including some unverified spin that never gets corrected (such as the “Asian” motive for those spa killings). We all knee-jerk react with a hot-flash of realization… and then the kid starts crying, it’s time to leave for work again, and the NRA press release asserts that if everyone in the crowd had been armed, they could have taken out the shooter.

    The bigger picture reality is a lot less dramatic and motivated more by the nature of our system combined with a fundamentally insecure and violent society. I think we can group most cases of gun violence into just a few categories, perhaps with some overlaps. (A lot of this data can be found at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.):
    1) Subcultural – gang disputes, territorialism and proving oneself.
    2) Poverty – armed robberies, protecting illicit assets, and the settling of economic problems.
    3) Domestic – familiar homicides and suicides as a result of emotional disputes. (>60% of US gun deaths are suicides)
    4) Anger – traffic shootings, pissed neighbors and spontaneous acts of frustration.
    5) Accidental – kids who find unsecured weapons, “accidental discharges”, stupid people. (about 500 cases each year)
    6) Legal self defense. (about 500 cases… 1,000+ if police are included)
    7) Crazies – the socially and mentally unbalanced somehow compelled to mass murder. (About 0.1% of firearms homicides.)

    Yeah… the news mostly covers only the drama of that last category, which while still tragic constitutes but a tiny fraction of firearms deaths in the US. And as a practical matter, I just don’t see Americans disarming themselves anytime soon. So I think the more fundamental question is why are Americans drawn to guns? What’s the sickness in American society that makes so many people feel like they need to have a gun, or that portrays them as a valid way to find power in one’s life, or to display their “manhood”, or to settle a problem. The Chicago PD alone reported 21 shootings including 5 resulting in homicides on just July 3rd, the last day for posted stats up as I write this. So where was the news media? (Replace the “[DOT]”):

    Personally, I think this is going to have to be approached over the long-term like drunk driving: by calling-out of the culture, strict enforcement of laws as a natural consequence of the responsibility (including serious background checks, which directly correlate to lowering rates of mass shootings), by providing social alternatives to whatever extent is possible, and maybe even by holding manufacturers liable for the social damage they help to cause. Like DUIs, the problem may never go away entirely. But it can certainly be reduced with a concerted, long term and properly directed effort.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Kumi!

      There are numerous posts at Ye Olde Blogge concerning gun violence, gun safety, and mass shootings. They cover most of the information that you summarize here. You may be interested in a post from 2016 called, Gun Safety and Auto Safety (link below) in which I argue that the approach that we took in improving traffic safety and reducing fatalities should be applied to guns. Like you’ve probably found, no one jumped on that bandwagon, though.

      Steven Pinker in his seminal book, The Better Angels of our Nature, argues that the biggest problem with guns in the US is that we didn’t disarm our population for a variety of reasons as happened in much of the rest of the world. Simply put, we have too many guns. And, as Conrad Lorenz pointed out in the late ’60’s or early ’70’s, guns make killing too quick and easy for evolution to adapt to. That’s why simply locking your guns in a cabinet significantly reduces gun deaths and injuries (as pointed out in the post) because it allows for a cooling off period before the guns are gotten to and used.

      After having spent a number of years studying on this issue, what seems painfully clear is that there is a segment of conservative leadership that wants this exact situation to be occurring in our country. Partly, it is to encourage civil war (see a post on the front page of the blog, if you’re interested) and partly it is just to keep the country divided and aggitated.

      As someone… okay, several people have pointed out, requiring liability insurance for guns would pit the insurance industry against the gun industry, and the insurance would win.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is much appreciated. I hope that you comment on other posts.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. I admit, a lot of what’s hear is a fancy way of saying something (crass, of course) Bill Maher brought up ( ), that these young white shooters are horny idiots who can’t get laid and are gonna take it out on everyone else (at least, quite a few of ’em have admitted it in some fashion, whether through a manifesto or online posts where they whine about no girlfriends a lot). And I’m sure there’s a lot of crap in their past that’s led to intense social awkwardness and that’s all dog-piled. I think many of us have seen it coming, but like you said, the lack of training in what to say and how to say it (or what to do about it and when) is the trouble from authority figures.

    But a big part of it, especially these days, is a profound lack of empathy or respect for human life. We’re so bloody selfish these days and to me there’s nothing more selfish than murder-suicide in the crime scale: it’s taken all agency from the victims and given the killer what they want: their own ending without having to answer for consequences. For the ones that’ve been taken alive, I’d love to have someone ask them “what did all these complete strangers ever do to you? Other people might’ve hurt you in life, but why kill kids or grandmas just living their lives who never even met you, let alone did something to you?”
    I’d love an answer to that, because if there is an answer, I’m sure it’s gonna come out sounding like a petulant 5 year old who’s still mad his brother took his toy and he deserved to get slugged in the shoulder for it.

    Sorry so ranty. I’m noticing my empathy meter is making me burn out, I guess, and it had to go somewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Howdy Tally!

      I’m afraid it is our Zeitgeist that all of our empathy is evaporating. The key to understanding mass shooters is grievance and that they assign the blame for whatever their grievance is to the group that they are shooting. Given that the current iteration of conservative is all about white grievance and privilege grievance and gyno grievance as well as praising toxic masculinity and gun culture, we’re likely to see even more mass shootings targeting racial, socio-economic, gender groups.

      When you start digging into the literature, you start finding lots of interviews with shooters who survived for whatever reason. May I recommend, Peterson and Densley’s book, The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic, and Kris Mohandie’s Evil Thoughts, Wicked Deeds? Both use excerpts of their interviews with mass shooters and provide some of the insight yu are seeking.

      The biggest frustration I have as mass shootings and corpses pile up all around us is that it is blatantly obvious what should be done and the absolute intransigeance of those on the right to do any of it. It is painfully obvious that they’re refusal and stoking of gun rights as a divisive issue is in service to the gun industry and those who seek to exploit us for their own financial gain.


      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jack, you’ll enjoy (if that’s the right word) some articles I linked on the blog yesterday. They fit in well with this, especially the one about the claimed right to kill.

    Happy people just don’t tend to go out and try to kill lots of people. And, I’ve long argued against the habit of calling these things “senseless”. You can’t stop them unless you are willing to actually look at and take seriously how it did make sense to the person who did it.

    Liked by 2 people

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