– It is natural in the sense that in trying to understand mass shootings—and to find something to blame them on—especially when they involve children, one … correlation between mental illness and violence is much lower than is commonly assumed and that mass shooters are not in their majority mentally ill.
COMMON MYTHS ABOUT MASS SHOOTINGS AND SHOOTERS
Judge Rusty Johnston
- Mass Murderers Snap and Kill Indiscriminately. FALSE. Mass murder rarely involves a sudden explosion of rage. Mass killers typically plan their assaults for days, weeks, or months. These preparations include where, when, and who to kill, as well as with what weapons they will strike. These assailants are deliberate, determined to kill, with little regard for what obstacles are placed in their path.
- Mass Shootings Are on the Rise. FALSE. They wax and wane over the years but there is no upward trend, only more news coverage. Over the past few decades, there have been, on average, nearly 20 mass shootings a year in the United States.
- Deaths keep increasing with each Mass Shooting. FALSE. It’s just random. For example, in this partial list: 1973 Doug Gretzler kills 17; 1984 James O. Huberty kills 21 with a 9 mm Uzi semiautomatic; 1986 Patrick Sherrill kills 14 with two .45-caliber semiautos. One of the first “Going Postal” cases; 1987 David Burke, a Black man, carried several guns onto an airliner he worked for. It is unclear how many died from being shot or from the impact of the crash but 43 people were killed; 1991 George Hennard kills 23 when he starts shooting in the “No Gun Zone” which is Luby’s Cafeteria in Texas; 1995 Darnell Collins kills 7 with a .22 pistol;1999 Mark Barton the failed Atlanta Day Trader kills 12 with a 9 mm Glock and a .45 Colt; 2007 Seung-Hui CHO kills 32 at “Gun Free” Virginia Tech with two semi-auto pistols; 2012 James Holmes kills 12 with an AK-47 at “Gun Free” Colorado movie theater premier of “Batman.”; 2012 Adam Lanza kills 28 at “Gun Free” Newtown school with an AK-47; 2012 Wade M. Page kills 6 Sikhs at a Sikh Temple using a semi-auto pistol; 2012 Ian Lee Stawicki, kills 5 at a Seattle café with a .45 Semiauto pistol; 2012 Jeong Soo Paek kills 5 in Georgia with a semiauto pistol; 2012 Radcliffe Houghton kills 4 semiauto pistol; 2012 Andrew Engeldinger kills 6 with a 9 mm Glock pistol after being fired from his job; 2012 One L. Goh kills 7 in California with a .45 semiauto pistol; 2013 Aaron Alexis kills 13 at the “Gun Free” Washington Naval Yard with two semiauto pistols; 2016. Omar Mateen kills 50 at the Pulse Night Club with a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 semi-auto pistol. The one thing for certain is that something was going on in 2012.
- Violent Entertainment, Especially Video Games, Are Causally Linked to Mass Shootings. FALSE. Study after study has failed to show a causal connection between video games for example and violence. The problem is that most children under 21 play video games. If an 18-year-old goes on a shooting spree, the public will immediately link violence to video games—because most children play video games. Most children under 21 also drink Cokes, but Cokes don’t cause people to become shooters.
- Most Mass Shooters are Young White Males. FALSE. That RACIST myth is often repeated by law professors, televisions pundits and politicians today. From 1976 to 2011 (the latest that demographic have been figured in) here is the breakdown: Gender: Male 506 95.8%, Female 22 4.2%; Race White 321 62.0%, Black 171 33.0%, Other/Unknown 26 5.0% [During this period of time all “Hispanics” were counted as “White”). Age: Under 20 years 63 12.2%, 20-29 years 1%, 30-39 years 127 24.7%, 40-49 years 95 18.4%, 50 years and above 6.6%. Note: 2010 Census, the United States was 73% White, 13% Black, 9% Hispanic (this is a self-identified number as many Hispanics chose to identify as White). 5% Asian.
- Enhanced Background Checks Will Keep Dangerous Weapons Out of the Hands of the “mentally ill.” FALSE. There is no clear link between mental illness and violence. Most mass murderers do not have criminal records or a history of psychiatric hospitalization. Thus, they would not be disqualified from purchasing their firearms legally. A recent examination of 93 mass shootings from January 2009 through September 2013, conducted by the gun banning group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” (2013), found no indication that any of the shooters were prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms because they had been adjudicated mentally ill or had been involuntarily committed for treatment. In just 10 of the 93 cases, there was evidence some evidence that the mental health of the shooter had been brought to the attention of a medical practitioner or legal authority prior to the shooting spree.
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Fox, James Allan and DeLateur, Monica “Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown.” Homicide Studies XX(X) 1-21. 2013. lbogen, Eric B. PhD; Johnson, Sally C. MD
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Stone, Michael H., MD “Mass Murder, Mental Illness, and Men.”
Violence and Gender. Volume 2, Number 1, 2015