Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
This year has brought a spate of mass shootings in the United States, despite a drop in overall gun violence. The story is all too familiar: A gunman enters a public place and opens fire on a group of innocent people. Today, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 27 people, most of whom were young kids.
Researchers are trying to understand why mass killings have spiked in recent years, reports Brad Plumer at The Washington Post. While there used to be one or two shooting rampages per decade, that number has spiked to at least 27, including the event in Newtown today.
One theory is that the shootings are “contagious.” When one crime is widely publicized, it could incite others to do the same, according to a 1999 study which found that seven mass-shooters had drawn inspiration from one another.
“A ripple effect with these incidents generating other serious violence may also have occurred,” according to the study by the Journal Of Suicide Research.
While people have been quick to blame gun control for the crimes, firearm violence in general is dropping across the U.S.
Ultimately, we actually have little concrete evidence to explain the increase in mass shootings, Plumer reports.
A study by the Journal Of Police And Crime Psychology stressed the importance of understanding what spurs this violence:
“It is recommended behavioural sciences and mental health researchers increase research efforts on understanding mass killings, as the current socioeconomic climate may increase vulnerability to this phenomenon, and the incidents are not well understood despite their notoriety,” according to the study.
After the Aurora shootings in July, David Brooks wrote an op-ed for The New York Times describing “motifs” in these incidents:
- Killers who exaggerate their own significance in the world.
- The perpetrator had been dealt a “crushing blow” to their self-esteem soon before the killings.
- Suffered from severe depression or anxiety.
While it’s easy to notice trends among the gunmen, it’s more difficult to know exactly what triggered the attacks.DON’T MISS: A Timeline Of Mass Murders In The U.S. This Year >
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