Why are mass shootings on the rise in America? Let’s set aside the political squabbling for a minute and talk about WHO is doing the shooting. Yes, I know. Some people think guns are responsible. Others say…
“Guns don’t kill, people do.”
In my opinion, that’s an oversimplification. Guns definitely make it easier to kill more people and to kill them quicker. Anyone who doubts that is a moron. But it’s equally stupid to ignore the fact that guns don’t just shoot themselves. And unless we figure out WHY people are shooting other people, we’re fighting a symptom instead of a cause.
So, I’m going to share what I believe to be the top three causes for the rise of mass shootings in America. Let’s start with a quick list of mass shootings between the years 1984 and 2017…
- July 18th, 1984: 21 killed, 19 injured in San Ysidro, Calif.
- Aug. 20th, 1986: 14 killed, 6 injured in Edmond, Okla.
- Jan. 17th: 5 killed, 29 injured in Stockton, Calif.
- June 18th: 10 killed, 4 injured in Jacksonville, Fla.
- Oct. 16: 22 killed, 20 injured in Killeen, Texas.
- Nov. 1rst: 4 killed, 2 injured in Iowa City, Iowa.
- May 1rst: 4 killed, 10 injured in Olivehurst, Calif.
- July 1rst: 8 killed, 6 injured in San Francisco.
- December 7th: 6 killed, 19 injured in Garden City, N.Y.
- March 24th: 5 killed, 10 injured in Jonesboro, Ark.
- April 20th: 13 killed, 24 injured in Columbine, Colo.
- July 29th: 9 killed, 12 injured in Atlanta.
- Sept 15th: 7 killed, 7 injured in Fort Worth.
- Nov. 2nd: 7 killed in Honolulu
- Dec 26th: 7 killed in Wakefield, Mass.
- July 8th: 5 killed, 9 injured in Meridian, Miss.
- March 21rst: 9 killed, 7 injured in Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minn.
- Jan 30th: 6 killed in Goleta, Calif.
- October 7th: 5 killed, 5 injured in Nickel Mines, Pa.
- Feb 12th: 5 killed, 4 injured in Salt Lake City.
- April 16th: 32 killed, 17 injured in Blacksburg, Va.
- December 5th: 8 killed, 4 injured: Omaha.
- Feb 14th: 5 killed, 16 injured in Dekalb, Ill.
- April 3rd: 13 killed, 4 injured in Binghamton, N.Y.
- November 5th: 13 killed, 32 injured in Ft. Hood, Texas.
- February 13th: 3 killed, 3 injured in Huntsville, Ala.
- August 3rd: 8 killed, 2 injured in Manchester, Conn.
- January 8th: 6 killed, 11 injured in Tucson, Ariz.
- October 12th: 8 killed, 1 injured in Seal Beach, Calif.
- April 2nd: 7 killed, 3 injured in Oakland.
- July 20th: 12 killed, 58 injured in Aurora, Colo.
- August 5th: 6 killed, 3 injured in Oak Creek, Wis.
- September 28th: 6 killed, 2 injured in Minneapolis, Minn.
- October 21rst: 3 killed, 4 injured in Brookfield, Wis.
- December 14th: 27 killed, one injured in Newtown, Conn.
- June 7th: 5 killed in Santa Monica.
- September 16th: 12 killed, 3 injured in Washington, D.C.
- April 2nd: 3 killed; 16 injured in Ft. Hood, Texas.
- May 23rd: 6 killed, 7 injured in Isla Vista, Calif.
- June 18th: 9 killed in Charleston, S.C.
- July 16th: 5 killed, 3 injured in Chattanooga, Tenn.
- October 15th: 9 killed, 9 injured in Roseburg, Ore.
- November 29th: 3 killed, 9 injured in Colorado Springs, Colo.
- December 2nd: 14 killed, 22 injured: San Bernardino, Calif.
- June 12th: 49 killed, 58 injured in Orlando nightclub shooting.
- September 23rd: 5 killed in Burlington, Wash.
- January 6th: 5 killed, 6 injured in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
- June 5th: 5 killed in Orange County, Fla.
- June 14th: 3 Killed in San Fransisco.
- October 1rst: 59 killed, more than 500 injured in Las Vegas
- November 5th: 26 people killed, 20 wounded in Sutherland Springs, Texas
Notice the dramatic increase between 2009 and 2017. I’d like to offer three reasons why I think this is happening. Keep in mind that these are just my opinions. But, I’ve been a student of human behavior since my early 20s and I have more than 10,000 hours of one-on-one counseling experience. So if there’s one thing I understand, it’s why people do what they do.
I’ll let you decide for yourself whether these reasons are worth taking seriously…
#1: The Deadliest Human Emotion (It’s Not Hate)
As of today, EVERY mass shooter in America has been male. And almost all of them have been suicidal. This is NOT a coincidence. It tells us that the shooters aren’t driven merely by hate. They’re driven by a deep and seemingly incurable sense of insignificance. At first, this might not sound like a big enough reason to become a mass murderer.
But any experienced psychologist will tell you that when a man feels helpless and marginalized by society, he’ll do almost anything to regain his sense of significance. There are plenty of healthy ways to do this. But the fastest and easiest way is through violence. This is NOT to say that every man who feels insignificant will become violent. But it points to a motivation which has been common to nearly every mass shooter in America.
Think about the young boy who constantly gets into trouble at school. That boy is starving for attention and significance. Getting positive attention takes work, patience and consideration for the needs of others.
But getting negative attention takes almost no work. Any young boy who mouths off to the teacher, hits another kid with a spitball or disrupts the class by letting out a loud belch becomes suddenly significant.
These behaviors seem harmless at first. But as life gets more complicated, they no longer work. And that’s when things get messy. Most boys eventually discover more civilized ways to become significant. Others pine away into depression, swallow a bottle of pills or stick a gun in their mouth. They do this out of a feeling of insignificance.
I know this because several years ago, I pored through the records of suicide letters written by men during the Great Depression. The single most prominent theme in those letters was the man’s loss of personal significance. They no longer felt that they were worth anything to their family or their society. Men who take this path only harm themselves and the people they leave behind. But others simply can’t settle for passive retreat. So they turn to violence.
This is how a merely suicidal man can turn into a suicidal mass murderer. This might sound like an oversimplification. But violence isn’t complicated. We over-complicate by assuming that the more horrendous a crime is, the more mysterious the criminals motives must be.
A few decades ago, I watched a documentary on the serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells. Sells confessed to killing dozens of people over this “career.”
Police officers and psychologists interviewed Sells, trying to figure out why he did what he did. They simply couldn’t accept his explanation that murder was simple and that they were “making it too complicated.” This is a cold statement, but even a quick study of America’s most violent serial killers will tell you that they ALL had one thing in common. All of them had, in some form or another, been rejected and marginalized by other people.
When the cumulative pain of these experiences isn’t resolved, it finds another way to express itself and to make the person significant again. Again, violence is the easiest and most certain way to get this done. I am NOT saying this to excuse violence. This is simply an explanation. And if we dismiss it because we don’t want to “feel sorry” for those who choose violence, we’re ignoring the problem.
True, there are other factors. There’s hate, and anger and a disregard for the value of human life. But plenty of people live with those issues and never become mass murderers. Again, it’s the deep and seemingly incurable sense of insignificance that pushes them over the edge. And all it takes is a few men to choose this dark path, and the stage is set for more to follow…
#2: Violence as a Cultural Epidemic
Any behavior, no matter how horrifying or immoral, can become normalized. And what can be normalized, can then become an epidemic. It only takes a few factors, which I’ll reveal in a moment. But if you ask any historian or anthropologist about the practices of human sacrifice, cannibalism, rape, genocide or pederasty, and they’ll tell you AT LEAST a few cultures where such things were normalized.
It’s easy to assume that modern humans have outgrown such behaviors. But one of the most naive lies we tell ourselves is that we’re too “civilized” to fall back into moral depravity. This is foolish to the point of being dangerous.
We may be more technologically advanced than our ancestors. But scientific advancement and moral advancement are two completely different categories.
In fact, modern technology made it possible for more people to die at the hands of their fellow man during the 20th Century than during ANY 100 period in history. But that’s not all. Modern technology has also made it psychologically easier to normalize violence on a mass scale. Thousands of years ago, the Romans enjoyed watching slaves ripped apart by the Roman Gladiators and wild animals. They paid HUGE money to see these events.
Today, we can simulate such violence using special effects, makeup and CGI Animation. But the impact on our mind is no different. A person becomes desensitized to violent images on their T.V. or in video games the same way they become desensitized to violence in real life. In fact, the unconsciousness mind can’t even tell the difference. This is how violence becomes normalized in the brains. Once this happens, it’s only a matter of time before a handful of already unstable people move from violent thoughts, to violent actions.
Think again about a young man in his 20s who has spent the past 15 years of his life feeling woefully insignificant. The quickest and easiest way for him to become significant again is through violence. And even if he represents a marginal example, once his actions go public, you only need two more ingredients to turn one single case into an epidemic…
- INGREDIENT #1: Popular Appeal
It might be easy to assume that mass shootings aren’t appealing to “normal” people. But think about how much more attention you paid to the news directly after the last mass shooting. You can say you did this out of sympathy or concern. But why aren’t you equally engaged when someone dies quietly of heart disease or diabetes? The simple answer is that mass shootings are a bigger “spectacle,” and therefore easier to publicize and to incite public outrage.
This is NOT to say you’re a bad person for paying attention to mass shootings. I’m simply saying that certain types of death have a popular appeal because they’re easier to sensationalize. And mass shootings are at the top of this list. They’re also a huge opportunity for pushing political policies. The debates over these political policies become their own spectacle, thus compounding the overall spectacle.
This turns mass shootings into a HUGE opportunity for other marginalized, emotionally unstable people to take their shot at becoming nationally significant. And if they kill themselves immediately afterward, they get to die with that feeling of significance. In their minds, that beats having to face the aftermath of the shooting. That is, being further rejected, hated and marginalized by the society they believe to have caused them so much pain.
- INGREDIENT #2: Personal Appeal
Human behavior isn’t as complicated as we make it out to be. Regardless of what culture, gender or race we belong too, we all share a handful of basic emotional needs…
- The need for validation and significance.
- The need for stimulation and excitement.
- The need for certainty and familiarity.
An experience is personally appealing to the degree that it meets one, or more, of these basic needs. True, these needs often come into conflict. But all of us gravitate towards things which help us meet them. And as I said before, violence is the quickest and most certain way to go from being a nobody to being damn significant. So that takes care of the first need on this list.
But for many, violence is also stimulating and even exciting. Just look at how many violent movies become blockbuster hits. So that takes care of the second need on the list. Finally, violence makes it absolutely certain that people will respond to you. So that takes care of the third and final need, making violence a damn attraction option for people who are starving for validation, excitement and for certainty. And if they’ve also been desensitized to violence, that makes them fully motivated AND uninhibited.
True, normal people have other internal barriers that will keep them from picking up a gun and shooting people. That’s the only reason we don’t have more mass shooters than we do.
But when mass shootings become an epidemic, all you need is a handful of people with the inclination to act on their fantasies. Sooner or later, one, more more, of them will step across the line. And after ONE mass shooting becomes sensationalized, it creates a mass media “echo chamber” which emboldens other unstable people to come out of the woodwork and repeat the behavior.
In the science of Social Dynamics, this is called a “feedback loop.” Social feedback loops drive the spread of Social Epidemics, and over time, can lead to exponential growth in occurrences. Again, all it takes is these three ingredients…
- Popular Appeal
- Personal Appeal
Yes, I know. The guns are a part of the equation. They’re a tool for creating violence. But no one can argue that we had guns long before we had this epidemic of mass shootings in America. So we can talk about gun control if you like. But that’s a topic for another blog. SOMEONE has to use those guns. And that’s why we’d be wiser to ask where all these unstable people are coming from in the first place.
Of course, there are dozens of factors to consider here. Some which are reasonably easy to address. Others are more complicated. But there’s one factor that stands head and shoulders above the rest of them, and which is common to nearly every mass shooter…
#3: Why Some Boys Become Men, Others…Monsters
As I said before, every mass shooters are men. There’s simply no way around this. And yet, every man starts out as an innocent boy. So the question is, how does a boy grow into a violent monster?
You’ll find your first clue when you examine the violent criminals inside our prisons. Most of them came from a home where they had no father. Of course, some people blame this on poverty, lack of education or lack of emotional development.
But ALL of these are symptoms of growing up in a home with no father. Sure, some exceptional women can raise boys who end up becoming mature men. Les Brown, who has been one of my personal heroes since I was 17 years old, was raised by a single mother.
But people like this are the exception. For every Les Brown, there are hundreds of thousands of boys who never learn to become men. Their bodies grow up. But in their hearts and minds, they remain scared, insecure, emotionally undeveloped little boys. Psychologists call this “arrested development,” and while it has many causes, the most important one is whether the child was raised by parents who could help them become adults.
I’ll explain why this is more likely to happen to boys in a moment. But first, let me lay out some statistics to show just how serious, and widespread, this is….
– Adolescents in single-parent families and step families are more likely to engage in delinquency than adolescents of intact families.
Source: Stephen Demuth and Susan L. Brown, “Family Structure, Family Processes, and Adolescent Delinquency: The Significance of Parental Absence Versus Parental Gender,” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 41, No. 1 (February 2004): 58-81.
– A study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health revealed that adolescents in neighborhoods with a higher proportion intact families report higher levels of family integration AND commit less violence.
Source: Knoester, C., & Hayne, D.A. (2005). “Community context, social integration into family, and youth violence.” Journal of Marriage and Family 67, 767-780.
– Children between 10 to 17 and who live with two parents (biological or adoptive) are much less likely to be sexually assaulted, mistreated, abused or to see their family members fighting. This compared to their peers who come from single-parent families and/or stepfamilies.
Source: Heather A. Turner, “The Effect of Lifetime Victimization on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents,” Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 62, No. 1, (January 2006), pp. 13-27.
-A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure has a noticeable impact on delinquency.
Source: Bush, Connee, Ronald L. Mullis, and Ann K. Mullis. “Differences in Empathy Between Offender and Nonoffender Youth.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 29 (August 2000): 467-478.
Additional studies and statistics (which you can find in this article on fatherless and delinquency) showed that children who live in “whole” families are…
- Nearly four times likely to live in poverty.
- Dramatically more prove to drug and/or alcohol abuse.
- More likely to suffer from emotional or behavioral problems.
- Less likely to excel in educational achievements.
- More likely to be sexually promiscuous and end up having children out of wedlock.
Think about the above risk factors for a moment: crime, substance abuse, lack of emotional development, lack of educational achievement etc. What do these risk factors do to a boy’s sense of significance? How well do they prepare him for meeting his need for significance in a healthy and mature way?
Add to this the normalization of violence and its epidemic features we’ve already talked about, and we ought to be shocked there aren’t MORE mass shootings in this country. But here’s what’s REALLY interesting…
Take a look at the list of mass shootings at the top of this blog. Notice the explosion of occurrences between 2009 and 2017. Here’s how the number of single parent households has exploded shortly before that time period…
Notice the dramatic rise starting in the 1990s. Compare that to the dramatic rise in mass shootings roughly 20 years later. What you’re seeing is the residual impact of that fatherless generation entering the adult world. This is NOT a coincidence. Especially considering…
- The United States leads the developing world in number of mass shootings.
- The United States leads the developing world in the number of single parent households.
Add the racial statistics in the chart above, and you’ll get an idea of what’s REALLY happening to the young men in this country. Gun-control advocates love to argue that “gun control works in other countries.” Clearly, something is happening in America that is NOT happening on nearly the same scale as it is in those countries. If this trend doesn’t stop, gun-control isn’t going to solve a damn thing.
Gun-control advocates also pretend to be advocates of African American rights. Yet, they talk far too much about mass incarceration of blacks, which is a SYMPTOM. The CAUSE is this exploding epidemic of fatherlessness. Still, the virtue-signalers on the Political Left call people “racist,” or “heartless,” for not caring about the loads of minorities who are locked up like animals in our prisons. If they really cared, they’d be talking about the REAL problem, not the symptom.
They’d also be making a genuine effort to STOP rewarding the behaviors which lead to boys growing up without fathers. I say this because single motherhood is now touted, by the Political Left, as a greater social virtue than the virtue of remaining sexually pure until marriage. This is especially ironic considering that the renormalization of sexual purity could dramatically dampen this epidemic of fatherlessness.
Instead, having children out of wedlock is now encouraged with social approval AND tax-payer funded economic rewards. About 90% of welfare recipients are single mothers. These two things together, set the stage for turning single-parenthood into another cultural epidemic. Consider these three basic human needs again…
- The need for validation and significance.
- The need for stimulation and excitement.
- The need for certainty and familiarity.
Politicians, activists and members of the media constantly push the narrative that taking care of single parents (and their children) is EVERYONE’S responsibility. Such virtue signaling paints single parents as noble, hard-working members of society who deserve our help. That takes care of the need for validation and significance.
Single parenthood is also rewarded with government goodies: health care, welfare checks etc. This added financial security takes care of the need for certainty.
Finally, remaining a single parent frees you from the commitment of being married. It allows you to shack up with partners based on their sexual appeal instead of committing to a stable and responsible spouse. That takes care of the need for stimulation and excitement. Don’t tell me this doesn’t happen either. Babies get conceived out of wedlock because their parents were more interested in having fun than in practicing sexual restraint, getting their lives together and finding a responsible life-partner first.
Once again, we’re creating a perfect storm for a cultural epidemic. Add to this the normalization of violence and its public and personal appeal, and it’s not hard to see why mass shootings are on the rise.
But we live in a society where you’re considered “sexist,” or “judgemental” for suggesting that single motherhood might not be the best thing for growing boys. Frankly, I think its sexist to suggest that fathers don’t matter or that there’s ANYTHING noble about raising a child without a father.
Still, the epidemic of political correctness has bullied people into believing that being a single mother is more virtuous than the decision to keep your legs closed until you get married. Liberal activists and politicians argue that we should help single parents anyway because “the children don’t deserve to suffer for the parents’ mistakes.”
But 70% of gang members, high school dropouts, teen suicides, teen pregnancies and teen substance abusers come from single mother homes. Add to this that about 40% of all live births in America are to single mothers, and I’d say a lot of those children are already suffering. Not because they don’t get enough help from the Government. But because they have no fathers.
But there’s still one question left…
Why Are All Mass Shooters Men?
Any sane person would agree that a real man doesn’t murder dozens of innocent people before turning the gun on himself. It takes a monster to do that. So how does a man become a monster? It helps if he already has a genetic disposition to become violent. But that alone isn’t enough. To make the full transition, his God-given masculinity has to be turned into a force of violence and destruction.
Masculinity is a powerful force. When under the control of an emotionally mature man, it’s one of the most potent creative drives in the Universe. Many of the Great men of history were driven by the raw desire for significance OR by the desire to win a woman’s heart. Most men are. But if you take these two options away, his masculinity will find a darker and more horrifying way to unleash its power on the world.
Think again about that boy who has been marginalized and rejected as a child. Many of these men are also growing up to find themselves unneeded by the women whom they’d normally be dating and/or marrying. This isn’t surprising. The welfare state has essentially stepped into the economic role of the father. This has dramatically marginalized the sexual market value of good stable and emotionally mature men.
After all, if a young woman can have children, without being married, and still receive unlimited economic help from the State, she’s far less motivated to find a stable, responsible husband. And when she is, she’s more likely to choose the man who has his act together. Not the “man-boy,” who’s still struggling to come to terms with his masculinity.
This trend is having a doubly negative impact on the undeveloped men of American society. More and more young men are finding themselves locked out of the opportunity to become fathers. Many of whom already have a history of being rejected and invalidated by their peers, and of growing up with male role models. We can’t be surprised when some of them give up on the idea of being responsible and turn to childlike hobbies. And we should be VERY alarmed when they start turning to violence.
This is NOT to excuse young men for taking this path. But anyone who thinks we can solve this problem using government welfare programs is a morally bankrupt moron.
And anyone who thinks gun control can stop it is a naive and compassionate blockhead who ignores the emotional pain driving the shooter to fire the guns.
Why are mass shootings on the rise in America? I blame the normalization and sensationalizing of violence. I blame the marginalization of the good American virtues of sexual chastity and the value of the nuclear family.
I blame the exploding epidemic of boys being raised without fathers. I blame the sick, codependent enabling through the welfare state and the manipulative rhetoric of megalomaniac politicians who use these programs to buy voters.
But most of all, I blame the Radical Left hate groups who push the myth that masculinity is something to be feared and ashamed of. It’s easy to believe that when were turning boys into monsters. But this is what a world without fathers will look like.
A woman can raise girl to become a woman. In some rare cases, a woman can raise a man to be a man. But in most cases, it takes a real man help a boy connect with his God-given masculinity and become a man, instead of a monster.