7 Myths About Mass Shootings, And Why Current Violence Control Policies Are Ineffective

By Ajit Jha on December 18, 2013 10:13 AM EST

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A new study claims that policies aimed at curbing mass shootings have developed based on myth, not fact. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The human toll in gun-related mass shootings in the last seven years in the U.S. was estimated at about 900, according to a USA Today report. These mass shootings, for obvious reasons, tend to capture the public eye, and with that media attention, have given rise to many myths and misconceptions. The misconceptions are not innocuous: a new study published in the journal Homicide Studies claims that the rate of mass murders has little chance of declining primarily because of policies have developed based on these myths. 

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The study, written by James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur, debunks some of the major myths related to mass shooting. Seven of the most common (and most damaging) myths are listed below.

Myth #1: Killings Are Random

Contrary to popular belief, mass murderers don't kill randomly. Their motives range from profit and terror to a desire for revenge, loyalty, and power. The murderers plan days and months ahead of the execution of their plan.

Myth #2: Mass Shootings Are On The Rise

A second major myth is that despite what the media suggests, mass shootings are not on the rise. There are about 20 a year on average, and that rate has been steady for years.

Myth #3: Violent Video Games Turn Teens Into Killers

Scientists, contrary to popular understanding, have found no link between violent entertainment including video games and mass murder. It could be a symptom rather than the cause.

Myth #4: Mass Murders Are Always White Males

The fourth myth is that mass killers are Caucasian males with psychological issues. The truth is that mass murderers could be of any ethnic background.

Myth #5: Better Mental Health Services Will Curb Violence

Many in the media, and in the social sciences, have argued that extending mental health services throughout the U.S. in general will help decrease mass murders by locating and treating unstable individuals early on. The researchers argue that mental health facilities may not touch those on the fringe. In addition, the murderers often see the problem in others, not in themselves.

Myth #6: We Just Need Better Background Checks

Enhanced back ground check, contrary to the popular misconception, will not check the rate of killing, according to the researchers as evidenced in the study of 93 shootings from 2009 to 2013.

Myth #7: Armed Guards Are The Solution

It is unlikely that armed guards at school can effectively check mass shootings, according to study authors. As of now 28 percent of schools already have armed security deployed. It will be nearly impossible for the guards to monitor each student effectively.

Having identified the holes in popular understanding of the mass murders caused by gun violence, the researchers claim that the existing policies designed on the basis of these myths are bound to prove ineffective.

The only real solutions, according to the researchers, would involve completely revamping many aspects of society and taking some extreme steps. These include restoring our sense of community, achieving full employment, rounding up anyone who looks or does anything even remotely suspicious, and abolishing the Second Amendment, according to the researchers. But then, the question is how able or willing are we to take these steps? The cost of personal freedom, according to the study team, is mass murders.

Image above courtesy of Shutterstock.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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