Researchers Say They Know How to Stop Mass Shootings

They say suicide prevention could be more likely than armed guards to prevent shootings
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2022 4:52 PM CDT
Researchers Say They Know How to Stop Mass Shootings
   (Getty - Anut21ng)

Two researchers detailed the life histories of 180 mass shooters dating back to 1966, and they discovered striking similarities that they say can help stem the problem, if only politicians will listen. Politico interviewed psychologist Jillian Peterson and sociologist James Densley, whose findings are revealed in a new book. They say "mass shootings are socially contagious," so back-to-back, high-profile events in Buffalo and Uvalde were no surprise. The typical mass shooter’s profile begins with early trauma or abuse that eventually leads to “despair, isolation, [and] self-loathing." These are warning signs for suicide, but would-be shooters turn their self-hatred toward others. They also seek notoriety, though they do not intend to survive.

The professors agree with the common Republican talking point that mental health is the crux of the issue, but there is no serious debate about what exactly that means. Democrats get blame for sidestepping mental health to focus on gun control. “We have to do multiple things at one time,” Densley says. “People have to be comfortable with complexity.” Importantly, most younger shooters previously reached out for help—one even called a mental health facility minutes before opening fire—but communities lack the necessary services.

Peterson and Densley call for enormous public investment to build a robust school-based mental health system that can identify and investigate children in crisis and link them to the necessary resources. They also say much more training and awareness is required around the use of red-flag laws. Read more here. (More mass shootings stories.)

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