What mass shooters have in common

❝ For two years, we’ve been studying the life histories of mass shooters in the United States for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. We’ve built a database dating back to 1966 of every mass shooter who shot and killed four or more people in a public place, and every shooting incident at schools, workplaces, and places of worship since 1999. We’ve interviewed incarcerated perpetrators and their families, shooting survivors and first responders. We’ve read media and social media, manifestos, suicide notes, trial transcripts and medical records.

❝ Our goal has been to find new, data-driven pathways for preventing such shootings. Although we haven’t found that mass shooters are all alike, our data do reveal four commonalities among the perpetrators of nearly all the mass shootings we studied…

❝ So what do these commonalities tell us about how to prevent future shootings?

One step needs to be depriving potential shooters of the means to carry out their plans. Potential shooting sites can be made less accessible with visible security measures such as metal detectors and police officers. And weapons need to be better controlled, through age restrictions, permit-to-purchase licensing, universal background checks, safe storage campaigns and red-flag laws — measures that help control firearm access for vulnerable individuals or people in crisis.

I come from a hunting and gun-owning family. The immediate generations before me – in my father’s family alone there were at least 7 who worked for firearms manufacturers. No big deal in industrial Southern New England.

I lived through periods of practically zero gun regulation. I lived through periods nearly equivalent to most of what’s asked for by people of conscience and good sense, nowadays. I’m still a gun owner.

My life and lifestyle wasn’t altered in the least by those regulations. Personally, I support a return to those strictures. Personally, I think those who use fear of regulation as an excuse for lousy politics are intellectually dishonest, deceiving no one other than themselves and their sympathizers.