Monday, May 21, 2018

The Reason for Mass Killings and How to Prevent Mass Shootings

Once more we hear the news of another mass killing. And once more we hear much talk about what we need to do to prevent it from happening again. Though there is much expressed anger on all sides I have yet to see anyone present a solution that would’ve prevented one of the recent mass killings, let alone all of them. Some people have focused on gun control, but the most recent shooting involved guns that the gun control advocates thought were safe. And then there are the killings like the New York truck attack and the Boston Marathon bombing that wouldn’t have been stopped by even the strictest gun ban.

For all the talk of what we need to do about these killings there’s been little talk about why they are taking place. How can we prevent them if we don’t know why they are happening? One person said they knew why they are happening, “It’s Satan.” I don’t disagree, but I also don’t think that answer is helpful. Even if Satan himself is whispering in the ear of each of these killers we still need to understand why they are listening to Satan. Why would they plan their attack with every intention of taking their own lives? If that’s what Satan were telling you to do, don’t you think you would say, “Get thee behind me, Satan?”

Some of these attacks are terrorist attacks and we sort of understand those, though people are still trying to figure out how these guys become radicalized so quickly. It’s quite likely that the terrorists are killing for the same reason the non-terrorists are killing, so the question of radicalization may not matter. But why are the non-terrorists killing?

The shooter in Santa Fe and the left leaning woman who hot up YouTube in San Bruno, California may give us a clearer understanding than the other killers. The kid in Santa Fe made an interesting statement when he said that he shot people he didn’t know because he wanted the people who knew him to be able to tell his story. And the YouTube shoot did what she did because she believed YouTube was preventing people from watching her YouTube channel. Neither had mainline views, and they had views that were dissimilar to each other, but the thing they had in common was that they wanted to be heard.

I’m convinced that all these killers are trying to be heard. This is different from your typical killer who is trying to exercise authority or to get revenge. In a typical killing the killer may act in rage or may plan on getting away. In these mass killings the killer goes in with the expectation that he will not survive. It may seem senseless, but this is the act of someone who believes they are doing something of greater importance than themselves. They are using a gun, a knife, a bomb, or a car to kill but it is their way of yelling their message as loudly as they possibly can. To them, being heard is more important than life itself.

Since that’s the case, one thing we can do to prevent future killings is to do a better job at listening. But that’s not the complete solution. Some of these people are absolute nut jobs and our listening to them isn’t an option. They will confuse even a well-reasoned rebuttal of their position with ignoring them. But that might tell us something about the kind of people we should be leery of. How do they respond when people disagree with them? Do they consider the other side or do they become angry because the person won’t be swayed?

It also might tell us something about what we need to be teaching. People need to learn how to have a reasoned discussion. They also need to learn how to deal with people ignoring them. This is something that is best taught from an early age and yes, I think having a father in the home would help with this. Father’s roughhouse with their children and by doing so they teach them to fight without bringing blood. This carries over into other things. It can be how a person learns to state their case in an argument without escalating to actual harm to the other person. But it may be possible for similar things to be taught in schools. We need to bring back recess, because that’s where students learn part of these. They may also learn it if they are required to defend a point of view in class. There are some who cannot be taught and for those we may need physical prevention methods, but teaching students to deal with the insult of not being heard will only reduce the need for physical prevention measures.