41 scholars studied U.S. mass shootings and found that most shooters are not mentally ill
The security camera recording of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016 revealed that zero people attempted to physically attack or restrain the shooter. “That’s a problem,” Detroit police sergeant and active-shooter trainer Rick McLatcher told The Seattle Times, in its helpful guide to surviving an active shooter. The Orlando shooter paused multiple times to reload his gun. “The commonly held view is that had anybody offered any physical resistance, they would have shut that guy down. It wouldn’t have stopped all the killing, but it would have prevented a lot of it.”
Repeated incidents in the United States such as these inspired 41 scholars to come together for a special issue of the American Society of Criminology’s journal aimed at preventing future deaths. Among the most surprising findings is that shooters are usually sane. Mental illness plays less of a role than thought, and in fact, the assumption that shooters are mentally ill just causes stigma for people who are mentally ill.
The scholars’ outlook is not upbeat. “Mass violence has become one of the most alarming and defining crime issues of the twenty-first century,” write the editors. “Mass shootings have plagued our country, and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. There are, however, measures that we can take to limit the harm and damage.” For instance:
Above all, the researchers beg for a federal data system to track these incidents, allowing easier evaluations of everything from warning factors to weapons to best responses. Currently, gathering that data is a big headache.