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What Mass Killers Tend to Have in Common

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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It may almost seem too obvious to mention, but I don't think that's why we so seldom mention it. I don't mean being male, or being mentally disturbed, or having been cruel to women, or living in places like the United States where it's easy to acquire weapons of war. These and many other factors are very significant and very often discussed, as they should be, when we consider mass killings.

There's something else that ties a lot of mass killers together, and it's also obvious, but seldom discussed. The man who killed with a van in Toronto had been briefly in the Canadian military and promoted his crime on Facebook beforehand as a military operation. The same day he killed in Toronto, the G7 countries were meeting at the University of Toronto and declaring their unified hostility toward Russia. The mass killing on Toronto's streets sought to solve problems in the same way that the Canadian government and its allies seek to solve problems.

The recent mass-killing in a Florida High School was also promoted by the killer as a military operation, in the sense that he wore his JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) shirt and killed in the same school where the U.S. Army had trained him to shoot and instructed him in war-supporting views of the world and its history.

Why should anyone notice such points or generalize from them? Don't members of militaries and veterans have it hard enough already without such gross bigotry?

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There's actually no need to generalize. Looking at a long list of mass shootings in the United States, almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general U.S. population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 -- by averaging the percentages for each age year -- about 14.76 percent of U.S. men are veterans, but at least 35% of these shooters were veterans. I determined that by quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, so the percentage is likely to be significantly higher. I found no news reports that stated that any of the shooters had not been in the military.

In U.S. mass shootings, military veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably much more likely than that. Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive. But here's what else might be counterproductive: Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society taught by schools and entertainment systems that mass-killing is the way to solve problems. Mass killing in the United States gets you on the news, and if you happen to be a president bombing a distant land it gets you widely praised and labeled as "finally presidential."

Of course it's possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn't some truth to that. But it's also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings -- and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable -- makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn't truth in that.

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The most killing Western societies do is done abroad by their militaries. In the United States, hundreds of deadly shootings every year are committed by police officers -- disproportionately military veterans. Suicides, as well, are disproportionately committed by veterans. And not because we are untactful in pointing to problems, but because we generally fail to admit to and deal with problems. Veteran suicides are driven by guilt over having participated in killing. That guilt is the top factor in predicting suicide, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration.

Militarism will continue to cause extensive damage until we shift our culture to nonviolence. That shift needs to include our governments, and it needs to treat the illness, not just its symptoms. The answer to gun violence is not more guns any more than the answer to van violence is more vans. I hope that seems obvious. It should.

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David Swanson is director of World BEYOND War which will be holding a conference in Toronto this September 21 and 22.

 

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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Vernon Huffman

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Yes, David, I agree. Have you also noticed that many mass shooters, including those approved by government, because they only kill foreigners in targeted countries, end their own lives early? Killing is a very painful and unnatural process.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 1:19:22 AM

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Carol Jackson

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"Collateral damage" is apparently a byproduct of killing. Or is it just the product. Period. I guess it's a matter of who's irrational rationale you're listening to.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 3:39:48 PM

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PCM

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Even though I'm not an across-the-board anti-pharma absolutist, I have to concede that Big Pharma can be a pretty effective mass killer, too, when the prospective profits are enticing enough. Ditto for heavily polluting industries. More generally speaking, the world's plutocrats are highly effective mass killers, by helping keep masses of people in abject poverty. But I realize we are talking about individual shooters here.

Speaking of which, American police departments tend to recruit heavily from veterans and even give formal hiring preference to them. So, they take people with a minimum of two years' training and experience in killing, subduing, and dominating enemies, give them three short months of police-academy training, and task them with the mission of keeping civilian communities safe, secure, and peaceful. And many of their officers seem to end up shooting suspects at the drop of a hat, and shooting to kill. I have to wonder whether there isn't a connection here.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:38:25 PM

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gunnar kullenberg

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"...Militarism will continue to cause extensive damage until we shift our culture to nonviolence...."

..."our" culture...

...or "end" the "culture" by dissolving the framework that is an absolute must for "US" militarism to be expressed at all, while simultaneously extinguishing the supremacist tendencies that will always materialize, when "super-state structures" are formed -- especially if they are created from explicit use of state organized violence as was the case with the US...

When Abraham Lincoln gave himself permission to start "killing his own people" in order to "save the union"...the tone was set...raw power is more important than anything else...

So, what do you think is more important -- "saving the union" or saving the world from US hunger for war...

Dissolving the union would end the hypnotic trance the union construct has instilled in practically 100 percent of the US population...

Now that we know that "constitution" could not protect the many from the urges of the few, isn't it time to defang the beast and remove the threat?

The states could live happily freed from the centralized super-state and its overbearing and never ending quest for "more"...it will never end...

What is so sacred about letting the utterly unworthy rule over a meta-jurisdiction that, as one of its core tenets, included quest for imperial expansion -- and imperial expansion will ALWAYS be based state orchestrated violence...

(From LA we know for a fact that gang members joined the military for the explicit purpose of experiencing what it was like to kill people...in the military, they could do so "safely")

These mass killings you talk about, the exact true nature of these events are not known...so using them as arguments for or against this or that is dishonest...

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 9:04:05 PM

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