What Do Mass Shooters Have in Common? (Hint: It’s Not Gun Type or Religion)

Photos and flowers are seen at a memorial to honor the Pulse nightclub mass shooting victims on June 14, 2016 in Orlando, Florida

A common thread for mass public attackers is not religion, or the type of gun used, but anti-social behavior.

That’s the observation made by the Washington Post’s Alex Yablon:

I’ve become accustomed to the standard public discussion that follows mass shootings: What could have possibly motivated such senseless acts of violence? School shootings in particular tend to generate plenty of political debate, either about the shooters’ beliefs (occult activity, in Christopher Harper Mercer’s case; violent video games and music, in Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s; misogyny, masculinity and entitlement in a host of others) or the role of firearms in their lives.

My experience suggests that the outsize attention paid to the shooter’s particular beliefs obscures the real connections between mass shooters. What binds them together and elevates their likelihood of killing in this particular fashion is not any particular belief set but a history of antisocial, sometimes violent conduct.

This is an important point at a time when Democrats and the establishment media inaccurately describe AR-15s as the weapon of choice for mass public attackers, or highlight the religion of the attacker (at least, when doing so allows them to denigrate Judeo-Christian traditions).


His observation about the past antisocial behavior of mass killers matches that of Duke University psychiatrist Jeffrey Swanson, who said, following the June 12, 2016, attack on the Orlando Pulse nightclub, “Most people who commit serious crimes, that’s not where they began. They didn’t just start committing gun homicides.”

Yablon uses this observation to push more gun control, in the form of background checks that detect mental illness before it spirals into violence like the December 14, 2012, attack on Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connectivu. But in this example, the problem with a gun control push is that background checks had absolutely nothing to do with the Sandy Hook attack. Rather, the attacker stole his guns.

And if we look at other attacks, even Yablon admits that many mass attackers acquire their guns via background checks, and that is because anti-social behavior with no criminal record does not necessarily indicate that violence toward others is forthcoming.

An important point that Yablon overlooks is the contribution gun-free zones make to mass public attacks. After all, it was a gun-free zone that allowed the Sandy Hook attacker to shoot innocents for over nine minutes with no armed resistance. The Orland Pulse was gun-free, as was the San Bernardino County buidling, Umpqua Community College, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, the LaFayette movie theater, the Aurora movie theater, and on and on.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.



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