White men to blame for mass US killings
Don’t point the finger at Mexicans and Muslims. And don’t blame shooters’ mothers…
WHENEVER there is a mass shooting in the US we begin to debate as a society what the killer’s motivations could have been. If he is brown or black there is a high chance that the tabloid press will cry “terrorist”.
Donald Trump will begin tweeting rabidly about how we should close US borders to all (read: black or brown) immigrants.
“The wall, the wall!”, his supporters will cry.
Breitbert will release an article trying to convince us that every Muslim is a terrorist plotting to kill us all.
For the record, I come from a family of Muslim immigrants, and I can confirm that none of us are about to run off and join Isis (why do I even have to reassure people of that?)
If the shooter is white, however, it will be a different story – poor, lonely, teased American guy had a mental health problem.
He always got good grades in school and, although he was quiet, nobody could have possibly imagined him doing such a thing, including his mum, partner, brother, uncle, aunt, 12th cousin, nursery teacher, baby sitter, the guy who bagged his groceries in Walmart, the woman who sat in one lecture with him for a single term when he was at university, and the family who lived six streets away from him when he was in primary school.
Because, let us be honest, every one of these people and more will be interviewed to investigate “what went wrong” with this unfortunate, mentally ill, all-American, middle class, white school boy.
Once again, white killers will be humanised and black or brown killers will be dehumanised.
But even many of those quick to point out this racism will look to other reasons why the shooter could have done what he did. Most of us on all sides of the political spectrum in the UK frown on the US for its gun laws – and rightly so. Every time there is a mass shooting, shares in gun companies rise.
Most mass shooters in US history have bought their weapons legally and without restriction. It’s a dangerous industry, to say the least.
But it’s also not the root of the cause. We need only look to Switzerland to disprove the theory that if people have easier access to guns, they are more likely to kill others. It has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, but you wouldn’t think it (I didn’t know, until I started research on this article).
When’s the last time you heard of a mass shooting in Switzerland? Not only does the country have a low rate of firearm-related deaths, but it frequently tops the list as one of the countries with the world’s lowest crime rates.
It boils down to this: if you put a gun in front of me, I wouldn’t pick it up and shoot a load of people. If you put a gun in front of most people, they wouldn’t pick it up and shoot a load of people. So what makes some people commit mass shootings – what is the common factor that connects all the people who’ve killed?
You might have noticed that throughout this piece I’ve been referring to the mass shooters as “he”. And that’s because it’s not mental health, race, religion or guns that brings any of these shooters together – it’s gender.
In fact, in a study of 62 cases of US mass shootings from 1982-2012, it was noted that only one shooter was a woman. All the others were men. Of these men, 44 out of 61 were white.
But if it has been proven that 98% of mass shooting are committed by men, why isn’t the media exploding with stories about why men are to blame?
Why is Donald Trump blaming Muslims and Mexicans, when the problem here is clearly to do with gender above all else? Why are men so much more likely to kill others than women? And why are we not doing something about it?
The truth is – women have been talking about this for a long time. A few years ago, Janey Stephenson wrote a piece about the link between toxic masculinity and violent attacks. After the Las Vegas shooting, Rachael Revesz compiled a list of mass shooters, all men, all with a history of domestic violence.
Let’s not forget that in the US it’s not just adults who are committing these crimes – the youngest shooter in the above mentioned study was Andrew Golden, who was just 11 years old when him and school friend Mitchell Johnson, 13, killed five other children at their school. How could two people so young commit such an act? What would make them take that gun, and use it for murder?
Indeed, not only are most adult mass shooters in the US men, but most school shooters are boys too. And not only are many adult male shooters perpetrators of domestic or sexual violence, but young boys can be too. A year before him and Andrew Golden committed their mass shooting, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson was charged with molesting a 3-year-old girl. The case was expunged because of his age.
But as we’ve seen perfectly illustrated in the book We Need to Talk about Kevin, we’d sooner blame young boy’s mums than blame masculinity when it comes to pointing fingers after a mass shooting. When Stephen Paddock murdered 58 people earlier this year, the media, the public and the police zoned in on his girlfriend Marilou Danley. It’s important to note here that his brother, who has been paid less attention, was arrested a few weeks ago on child pornography charges.
Unfortunately, we would rather peg blame onto a woman than admit the uncomfortable truth that young men – particularly US-raised young men – are showing a trend of really disturbing violence. And we would rather blame guns, Isis and innocent immigrants just trying to settle somewhere than face up to the facts: we have a problem with men and boys and violence, and it needs to be addressed. – Independent UK
Crosses mark the graves of shooting victims near the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church on Sunday, killing more than two dozen and injuring others.