Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown
With the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, many are left with questions about what leads to this and similar tragedies throughout the U.S. While some have theorized about the common personality traits of mass murderers, the frequency of these incidents, and the policy that can stop them, such speculation has led to many myths and misconceptions. This research finds that public policy based on these myths has a limited possibility of decreasing the rate of mass murders and that more drastic measures should be taken to have real success.
Mass shootings at a Connecticut elementary school, a Colorado movie theater, and other venues have prompted a fair number of proposals for change. Advocates for tighter gun restrictions, for expanding mental health services, for upgrading security in public places, and, even, for controlling violent entertainment have made certain assumptions about the nature of mass murder that are not necessarily valid. This article examines a variety of myths and misconceptions about multiple homicide and mass shooters, pointing out some of the difficult realities in trying to avert these murderous rampages. While many of the policy proposals are worthwhile in general, their prospects for reducing the risk of mass murder are limited.
This article, “Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown,” is featured on a special issue of Homicide Studies dealing with mass murders. This issue will be published in print in February 2014.
James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur
Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown Homicide Studies 1088767913510297, first published on December 18, 2013 doi:10.1177/1088767913510297