COVID is not the only epidemic haunting our every step. The world is facing another plague, one that is global, historic, and deadly.
I am talking about a really huge elephant in the room—that of mass shootings.
Between January 1 and May 17, 2022, there were 228 mass shooters in America. All were male shooters. Yesterday, there was another.
Drs. Jillian Anderson and James Densley built a database of mass shooters in America which they called The Violence Project Database (1966-2020). They studied 172 mass shooters based on the Congressional Research Service’s definition of a mass shooting:
“A multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms…and the murders are not attributed to any underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstances (armed robbery, criminal competition, insurance fraud, argument, or romantic triangle.”
They found that of these 172 mass shooters, four were women. In two cases the women acted in partnership with a man.
The overwhelming media coverage and analyses of these mass shootings, the speeches delivered by politicians, Prime Ministers, and Presidents, tended to talk almost exclusively about gun violence, and not about who is doing the shooting as if sex/gender is not also a factor to consider.
The experts usually mention mental illness, hate ideologies, childhood suffering (broken or dysfunctional families, foster care, adoption), childhood and school bullying, etc. Both the experts and the media tend to assume that such shootings in America are fueled by anti-black and anti-Jewish material on the internet, which has led to the most horrific “white supremacist” mass shootings, including the recent horror in Buffalo, New York.
However, contrary to myth, at least between 1966-2020, only 52% of all mass shooters in America were white males. All other mass shooters in America are Asian, African, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, and "Other."
Eighty percent of mass shooters used guns—handguns, semiautomatic assault weapons, or both. Of these shooters, 65% had previous criminal records and 36% were domestic batterers. Few had advanced education.
The Violence Project found that 30% of such shooters were psychotic; more than two thirds had other mental health issues (were alcoholics, drug addicts, suffered from a mood or thought disorder, or were suicidal.) More than 80% of these mass killers showed signs of disturbed behavior e.g. were paranoid, “difficult,” secretive, loners, and visibly “disturbed.” Twenty three percent (23%) had employment troubles; and/or had fomented interpersonal conflict with coworkers, friends, or family.
Even in this careful study, there is no mention of the shooter’s sex/gender.
Now, let’s step back and begin to think about domestic homicides, which are mainly male on female killings; honor killings, worldwide, which again, are mostly, but not exclusively, male on female killings; equivalent mass shootings in Europe, (think France, Belgium, the UK, Norway, Germany); the Middle East (PA, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Syria); Asia, (Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, South Korea, Russia); Africa, (Kenya, Mali, Tunisia); India (Mumbai. Mandsaur); South America, (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico); and Oceania (New Zealand, Australia).
Jihadist attacks, perpetrated with guns, knives, axes, machetes, stones, car-ramming, bombs, world-wide, including in America (Las Vegas, Orlando, Ft Hood); gang shootings in every city on earth and on very continent; serial killers who prey on prostituted and non-prostituted women, on gay men, on out lesbians, and transwomen—we begin to see a horrifying picture.
In addition, with some exceptions, almost all gang and drug related shootings, targeted assassinations, as well as revenge shootings on the street are perpetrated by male shooters.
We may also consider tribal and world wars. While women may support the war effort, the soldiers, and the ideologies that drive war, and while some women have donned military uniforms and fought on battlefields, this is primarily a male operation.
Yes? No? But, if so:
Houston: We have a problem and it is as big, perhaps bigger, than that of flying to the moon and safely back.
I do not deny that guns are a problem—pace, they are—but so are knives, stones, bricks, baseball bats, and machetes, in the hands of an angry, violent man or an angry violent male mob.
Not everyone who is mentally ill is violent.
Childhood abuse does not always lead to adults who are killers or mass shooters.
But if so: Let’s stop for a moment. Aren’t girls as abused in childhood as boys are? Differently, but perhaps more so? And yet few abused girls become killers or mass shooters. They tend to turn their rage inward against themselves, to marry or live with men who are as violent as their fathers. Some women, horribly abused in childhood, do become drug addicts and alcoholics, and may abuse their children, or allow them to be abused by pedophiles, boyfriends, husbands, pimps, and stepfathers.
What is it about male hormones, male biology, male psychology, male neurology that may need to be added to our understanding of mass shooters? Is my even suggesting this insufferable?
What would we have to look out for in young boys? What about the eight year old boy who is consistently bullied—or who, himself, is the schoolyard bully? What about a teenage boy who talks to no one, wears military-like outfits, secretly buys guns, and spends all his time in a basement at his computer? What about a very young man who has been caught up in Jihadist and racist readings, and whose personality has visibly changed?
Is there any way we can intervene long before a mass shooting occurs?
Back in the early 1970s, when radical feminists first began exposing rape, incest, sexual harassment, and domestic violence—many were called “man haters.”
Calmly, wearily, we would explain that we were not man-haters but rather, opposed rapists, sexual harassers, and batterers—not men; but there was no way around it: about 99% of such criminals all happened to be men.
Not all men were rapists—but almost all rapists were men.
So too with mass shooters. Most seem to be men. Not all men are mass shooters—but almost all mass shooters seem to be men.
Therefore, I humbly but strongly suggest that this variable be factored in to all the other calculations about such tragedies. After all, women can also buy and shoot guns. The guns alone are not the only issue.
Reposted with writer's permission from 4W.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler is a Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, received the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, authored 20 books, including “Women and Madness” (1972) and “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003, 2014) and four studies about honor killing. Her latest books are “An American Bride in Kabul,” “A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killing,” “A Politically Incorrect Feminist,” and “Requiem for a Female Serial Killer.” She is also a Fellow at the Middle East Forum (MEF) and at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), and a founding member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).