Is there a pattern here?

As you have heard, an armed gunman stepped into a movie theater on Friday and sprayed bullets across a crowded movie theater in Colorado Springs. Twenty-four year old James Holmes is the prime suspect for the deaths of 12 individuals and the wounding of 58 others.

What I find interesting about this mass shooting and many others in U.S. history is how the media and the American public spin this as a “mystery” to the motives of why these individuals commit these horrible acts. In fact, many reports point out that they are baffled by why anyone would do such a terrible thing and often point out that these individuals were “quiet” and “model” citizens with no real motives. Well, I don’t think the media or even the court system ever ask social scientists (other than a few psychologists/psychiatrists) if there are any patterns to these events in which America should pay attention to when predicting these atrocities in the U.S.

Well, today, I’m going to give you a profile that might help law enforcement and the rest of the U.S. population pinpoint who would be most likely to commit these types of crimes. By the way, you’re not going to like this profile; so, here we go:

1. The potential shooter will be White.Dr. Lippard, are you being a dick? Nope. Check your statistics on who is more likely to commit violent acts and murder (and not who is more likely to be arrested and convicted). Check your statistics on who is more likely to purchase large numbers of guns or have military training. Also, make sure to take a count of the number of convicted crazies who have climbed clock towers or walked into schools to mow down unsuspecting bystanders. Also, you might want to note who has been most likely to be a serial killer. I know what you’re going to say, what about Cho Seung-Hui from the Virginia Tech Shooting? Well, one racial or ethnic minority does not negate the rule AND if you read any information on race theory, you would learn that Asian groups are often treated similarly to Whites (aka model minorities).

2. The potential shooter will be Male. Can’t dispute this at all. Every person who has gone postal or sprayed bullets through a school hallway has been male. No women at all.

3. The potential shooter will be middle class. What’s social class got to do with shooting folks? Well, to be honest, a lot more than we want to mention. First off and the most obvious, is that in order to shoot folks, you have to have the money to buy the weapons and ammunition. A typical semi-automatic rifle costs around $400 to $1000 and the bullets, well, they range in price but aren’t free. Second, these individuals have more leisure time. WTF? I know, that doesn’t seem to matter but how do you plan for years to massacre innocent folks if you are working three jobs to earn enough to pay your rent? These folks are often making enough money to support their habit OR they have folks that don’t mind their children spending their money and having it sent to their suburban homes by UPS (see Columbine Shooting). Finally, and unfortunately, being middle class means you are mostly off the radar of police investigations. If you go and read Reiman’s The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, then you would know that it is less likely for middle class folks to even face police on a regular basis or have to deal with the possibilities of being a suspect.

4. The Other factors to consider are?? The top three are pretty much all you need to find the next potential shooter; however, I will provide some other social characteristics for you to consider:

  • Are they between the ages of 18 and 35?
  • Do they own a gun?
  • Are they conservative?
  • Are they a part of a religious Christian conservative movement?
  • Have they been a member of the U.S. military (particularly the Marines or Army)?
  • Do they have a family history of abuse and violence?

5. The Not-so-important factors. Sorry NBC, CNN, and the rest of America, I don’t think that the PRIMARY reason someone becomes a mass killer is because they are crazy, introverted, highly intelligent, or fanatical. And, if you actually paid attention to the patterns, it looks like the profile of who is going to be the next shooter makes up about 70% of the population. Unfortunately, this is the point. We focus on attempting to pinpoint the psychological reasons and not the social reasons that America creates shooters. Why is it that white, middle class men want to hurt random folks? Why is that our society pushes these individuals (which is really a group of folks) to be the gunmen who mow down your families, friends, and presidents? Could it be that there is something more to this than just a single person acting alone because someone in their heads whispered, “Kill them all?” What if we actually stereotyped white men like we do other groups as a potential threat? Haven’t we done this with black men for decades as the most likely to be thugs out to rob or rape White Women (see the Travon Martin case)? I know I’m not a special victim unit member with specialized training but DAMN, ain’t some of this quite obvious???

Profile Pictures for the Next Shooters in America?



About lippardcd

Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University.
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1 Response to Is there a pattern here?

  1. Pingback: Mass Shootings: The Irrational Rationalization of Violence | Cameron D. Lippard, Ph.D.

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