Mass Shooters: Mostly Solo White Guys, Lots Mad at Their Jobs, Still Not Much We Can Do in Public Policy Terms


Spencer Ackerman at Wired sums up the conclusions of a U.S. government "fusion center" report on what we think we know about mass shooters from Columbine on. Highlights:

This is what a mass killer looks like, according to a Department of Homeland Security analysis. He works alone. He uses a semi-automatic handgun. He's a he. And he probably didn't serve in the U.S. military.

That's the conclusion of a November 28 analysis by the New Jersey branch of the Department of Homeland Security's partnership with state and local law enforcement. The so-called intelligence "Fusion Center" sifted through data on 29 major mass killings in the U.S. since 1999, starting with the Littleton, Colorado school shooting. Its practical advice is to be more concerned by your co-worker with the bad hygiene who mutters about putting his "things in order" than by the war veteran in the next cubicle.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence(.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases "occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee," the November report finds. His "weapon of choice" is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they're almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

So, what can we learn in public policy terms from this knowledge about how to stop these events in the future? Pretty much nothing. Even as we muse from Senate to drawing room over how access to guns makes or might make such crimes more likely, Ackerman writes, "It's worth noting that the fusion center study doesn't mention the circumstances under which the shooter obtained his guns." While I don't know their official reason, a good guess is because in a world where guns and a Second Amendment exist, it doesn't really make any difference. And Ackerman's zinger conclusion:

One of the most striking patterns about U.S. mass killings is visible only through its absence. Terrorists aren't committing these crimes. Ordinary, unhinged American men are.

Jesse Walker on mass shootings and on the general uselessness of fusion centers.

NEXT: Mass. Chemist Accused of Faking State Drug Test Results Pleads Not Guilty

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  1. Wait, it took a “Fusion Center” a few weeks to “Sift through” the data on 29 cases?


    I could have done it by myself in a couple of days and that assumes I had to go gather all of the data myself from scratch.

    Talk about fucking useless

    1. Wait, it took a “Fusion Center” a few weeks to “Sift through” the data on 29 cases?

      Back when I took an interest in a particular question about this –whether bystander intervention can be effective against a public shooter — I found 100 cases through open news sources and had the answer in about 2 weeks working alone.

      BTW, when bystanders actively fought the rampage murderer, the result averaged only about 2 deaths per incident. Waiting for the cops, or for him to suicide, averaged about 14 deaths. Dividing pre-cop-arrival suicide data from post-cop data made very little difference.

    2. In their defense, it was a “Cold” Fusion Center.

  2. White men have been feminized by the popular culture since the 90s. They’re told that being sensitive and emotional makes you a man. That’s why all of these killers were in their 20s. By the time you get to 30 you’ve shaken off most of that social pressure bullshit. This kind of thing happens when you try to re-engineer people’s natural instincts, or tell them those instincts are wrong or barbaric.

    1. Sorry, dude, but that’s bullshit. Blaming this on “feminization” is just another KULTUR WAR fetish. The fact is, some people are nuttier than a fruitcake, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Haters gonna hate, killers gonna kill, and crazies gonna crazy. Humans are capable of a lot of ranges of behavior, and while that can be a good thing, it can also be a bad thing. One must take the good with the bad. And it seems that males tend to be more variably violent. Oh well, that’s humans for you.


          1. If you liked Blair more than Jo it shows that you’re obviously a homo, NTTAWWT.

            1. People have been wrong on here before, Sparky. You are now their god.

              1. You are now their god.

                You being the ultimate source of Epi’s lunatic ravings, I’ll take any sarcasm you direct my way as a compliment.

            2. $park?| 1.30.13 @ 12:30PM |#

              If you liked Blair more than Jo it shows that you’re obviously a homo, NTTAWWT.

              Wait, which one was the butch tomboy brunette? I hated the princess bitch, and totally fantasized about tough chick. I think the fat one (trudy?) was someone i was like, “eh. I’ve been drunker”

              1. Jo was the tomboy. Natalie was the chubby one that John liked. Tootie was the black kid who always wore roller skates in the first few seasons.

                1. Molly Ringwald was a regular cast member before they re-tooled the show in the 2nd season.

              2. I was hot for Molly Ringwald from the first season. Took a look recently at some stills of her then, and made me wonder, why was I in to that? Well, it’s a good thing my taste have changed or else I’d be in a black van at the park right now.

                1. It’s the hair. She reminded you of your Dumb Donald fetish.

                2. No you wouldn’t, the WiFi is terrible there.

      1. You’re right. Some people are nuttier than a fruitcake. Alsways have been, always will be.

        But why is it that white men who are nuttier than a fruitcake are the only ones that go on killing sprees? Black men aren’t doing it, because black culture allows them competitive outlets (not always good outlets, but outlets nonetheless). Young white boys get the whole “everybody gets a ribbon” treatment.

        1. I don’t think it’s cultural, it’s probably genetic. I really have no idea, so I’m completely speculating. Neanderthal genes? Who knows. In any case, there’s nothing you can do about it. Shit happens. And I blame ProL.

          1. ProLib is the one who feminized you? I would have bet it was Warty.

            1. What Warty did to me is completely different from what ProL did to me, though both were unspeakable. But you should empathize, Hugh, it’s nowhere near what your mom did to you.

            2. Warty broke down his barriers, it was Pro Lib’s tender hand that finally cajoled him into femininity.

          2. Not to speculate about the genetic angle, but I’ve heard phD endowed family members (probably still full of shit), claim that the viking genes are semi-responsible for most white psychopaths. They’d make said case, but not back it up, and I am too lazy to care beyond the viking content in my unfortunate mongrel genetic makeup.

            1. Also, it’s 1:30 and I’m drunk. Like a Viking.

        2. I think there’s something to be said for the idea that males need some amount of violence to develop naturally, and that preventing them from having that violence might cause them to grow up somehow stunted. But to blame hippies for mass shootings like this is just KULTURKAMPF bullshit.

          1. The fact that you said violence is evidence of. I wasn’t talking about violence, I was talking about competition, ie, men naturally want to compete to move up the social hierarchy.

            1. Sure, and how many teenage boys compete without occasionally beating the shit out of each other?

              1. I was in drama in high school, so it mostly just slap-fights.

                1. (gives Hugh an atomic wedgie)

              2. I don’t deny the connection, and there are times when violence is appropriate, but like you said “occasionally”. It’s still a small subset, not the thing in question. That’s kinda my point. They want people to associate competition with violence.

              3. Sure, and how many teenage boys compete without occasionally beating the shit out of each other?

                In a society with a natural healthy balance between feminine and masculine, a very low number.

                However, in our new ‘enlightened’ society, just calling another boy poopy-head, can get you on a sex offender list and make you a social pariah for life.

        3. Black men aren’t doing it

          They are, but its called “gang violence” when they do it.

          1. There’s a big difference between gang territorial disputes and shooting up a kindergarten. The former is maybe barbaric but understandable (ie, there’s a purpose in mind), whereas the latter is just outright psychotic.

            1. Some people are just fucking crazy. Why does there have to be a reason?

              1. I think there’s a very obvious reason –

                Trillions of genetic modifications spread over billions of years. A species with 7 billion living members, each the result of eons and eons and traits selected only for survival of the coding.

                You know how when you play a game with a create-a-character, and you can pick “random”, and after enough picks, you usually get the guy who looks like Sloth went muff-diving on a Gorax? That’s what these killers are. Random fucking mistakes.

            2. I was once at a bar when a couple of black guys were pissed about the entry fee, a few minutes later after leaving they shot out the windows. They may have been aiming high, but then again, black dudes may just be inclined to being bad shots, and thus lower body counts.

        4. Black men aren’t doing it, because black culture allows them competitive outlets


          What the fuck dude. Go get a black make hooker already and stop spreading your creepy fascist homoerotic racist fantasies here.

      2. Episiarch| 1.30.13 @ 11:41AM |#

        Sorry, dude, but that’s bullshit. Blaming this on “feminization” is just another KULTUR WAR fetish.

        Aw, but he totally saw Gus Van Zant’s ELEPHANT, and dude, they DID totally do teh gay in one scene. PROOF: Mass-killings? = HOMO 90s POP CULTURE.


        1. Goddamn, I hated that f’in movie. Such a steaming pile of BS.

      3. I don’t think so. It is odd that school shootings by children have only started in the recent past.

    2. ^THIS^

      I was typing my post below at the same time you wrote this. It’s the progressive feminist indoctrination of western society that is the cause of all this, and their cure is more of the same.

      1. There were no insane murderers before feminism? What?

      2. It’s the progressive feminist indoctrination of western society

        Jesus fucking christ on a pogo stick.


        Everyone thinks some kind of grand intellectual Meta-Theory is necessary to explain… what – extremely random and isolated cases of mass-killings? You might as well blame the next earthquake on homos, like @(#*$ Jerry Falwell.

        and unsurprisingly, the source of blame for these extremely rare events???… its going to be something you were constantly bitching about anyway. When all you have is PROGRESSIVE FEMINIST INDOCTRINATION every instance of aberrant human behavor LOOKS LIKE LEFTIST EMASCULATION OF THE AMERICAN MALE PSYCHE

        Seriously. You have no fucking idea how stupid you sound. Guess what? CRAZY PEOPLE ARE CRAZY. I’ll introduce you to one someday. trust me, he won’t have the first clue what your Feminization theory is about. He’ll be too interesting in scaping that irritating skin off your face so HE CAN SEE THE REAL YOU UNDERNEATH.

      3. The pussification of the American male…

        I perceived a real push to make men more sensitive starting in the late 80s early 90s. The word “aggressive” turned from a positive term to a negative one. Can’t say it’s causal in any of this, but I believe it has happened.

        1. Francisco d Anconia| 1.30.13 @ 1:19PM |#

          The pussification of the American male…

          I perceived a real push to make men more sensitive starting in the late 80s early 90s…

          Was it the second Boy George album, or your Cure collection that convinced you of this?

          I was too busy getting drunk and beat up in NYC underground punk bars to notice all the feminizin’ going on. I missed out! I could have a lisp, and know how to dress.

      4. There were mass killings back in the good old days, too, and some of them were crazy white guys shooting up their jobs.

    3. I think that is a silly theory. Shit like this happened before the 90s just as much. And in the US it was mostly young white men all along.

      It is stupid to try to find a reason for anything like this. It is so rare that it is both impossible and useless to try to figure out a societal cause. Millions of people have exactly the same experiences and don’t murder anyone.

    4. I don’t see any evidence that spree killers are more (or much more, at least) white than the country is.


        Mother Jones compiled a list of 62 mass shooters since 1982. 44 were white males.

        1. holy shite. non-whites commit nearly 30% of all mass murders! something Must be done. we need a program to help these folks defeminize. and quick.

          1. Holy shit! Non-whites represent about the same percentage of mass murderers that they do in the general US population!

            1. Merde de Dieu!! Caucasiens sont plus meurtri?res que les n?gres !?!

            2. trippy. can’t be a coincidence.

          2. You misspelled “pogrom”. Wait…you said non-whites…I don’t understand, do you mean like Black Republicans?

    5. KPres| 1.30.13 @ 11:30AM |#

      White men have been feminized by the popular culture since the 90s.

      Hows that working out for you whitey? BTW, you gots a real cute mouth. Lip sync some Timberlake for me…. yeah… real slow…

  3. if these white guys don’t stop doing this society is going to discriminate against them in hiring and academia.

  4. Mostly solo white guys

    I have the solution. You take these white boys, from birth, and you tell them, you are a bad person, all the inequality in the world, since the beginning of time is your fault. You need to be less equal than everyone else in society, so that everyone else can be more equal. Stop acting like a boy!, that is aggressive behavior. Give me those roughhouse toys, and here, play with this nice gender neutral doll. Stop acting like a boy! You need to feel guilty, because you are!

    That should fix it.

    1. Wow, I was taught the Euro-centric view of things. Western civ is the finest and males rule here. All that has been reinforced since.

      1. Sure, I was told about all the wonderful things Western Civilization has given birth to. Not surprising, given that Western Civ is dominant, and most of the good things ARE a product of it (as are most of the bad). But when they teach about the good, they never tie it to Western Civilization conceptually, they always treat it as a thing-in-itself. So Athens and Rome are just Athens and Rome. But when it comes to the bad, it’s always highlighted and pounded into the heads of impressionable minds that this was specifically the fault of evil white men. All of the sudden, who the transgressors were becomes the most important thing, not the event itself.

        1. Or, to put it another way, someday when Honey Boo Boo has a son, and he is raised in a trailer park foraging for leftover baloney and mountain dew while his mom smokes crack, if he should ever apply for college admission, grants, scholarships, etc. he will learn that he has been the beneficiary of “white privilege” all of his life and therefore more socio-economically advantaged than, say, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s kid, who will receive extra points toward admission because, y’know, racism.

          1. I am anti-affirmative action and a Western civ supremacist.

            (if you are referring to my type)

            1. Whatever the fuck that means.

              1. It means he’s a fucking douchebag homo. Haven’t you paid ANY attention?

        2. But all of this is really the fault of 9th century Chinese, so all of the evil in the world is from the east…

        3. given that Western Civ is dominant,…

          then why are you constantly harping abour mexicans and blacks? go forth and DOMINATE! i see no need for your inferiority complex

      2. I know right? When I was in college it was all “Western Civilization is awesome” this and “Tradition should be respected” that and then I was like “we should allow some females onto the campus” and my White Superior Cultural Studies Professor was like “Shut up bitch! Males rule here!!!”

  5. Ordinary, unhinged American men are.

    BAN THEM!!!!!!!

  6. I wonder why they made the cutoff 1999? Doing so excludes guys like the North Hollywood shooters (also a team) and Malvo/Muhammad (a team, and not white guys). They also omitted Amy Bishop’s 2010 rampage at Alabama, where she killed 3 people. It would seem to qualify. At least they mentioned Major Hasan…

    Also, why didn’t they mention the Seattle Police officer shootings in 2009, or the Oakland, CA officer shootings in 2007. Was it because the shooter was black?

    The study looks like a P.C. pile of shit, frankly.

    1. The usual minimum for mass shootings is 4 deaths, I think in one location/one day, which explains Bishop. Not sure about the officer shootings.

      1. (sigh) Poor Amy, just missed the cut?

    2. Or the Chai Vang shooting in Minnesota in 2004, where a Hmong lit up eight people, killing six? That doesn’t count?

      I found these, like Rasilio, in about 5 minutes of looking. God only knows how many others I could have found with two weeks of looking.

      1. malvo/muhammed was 2002

      2. Sorry, R.C., didn’t know you’d replied already and I asking my question rhetorically. It does appear that their cutoff was 4 dead.

        1. Yeah, I think the key here is that they’re looking at a profile of the average shooter. There will always be variance, but you can still put out a profile of the most likely characteristics. Not that it’s very helpful in this case. That profile is so vague as to be useless.

          1. Geez, I really need to be more sure of where my replies show up. I could have sworn all the subthreading was over with here.

      3. The Va Tech shooter was Asian, IIRC. Not sure though.

      4. Gray Ghost| 1.30.13 @ 12:11PM |#

        Or the Chai Vang shooting in Minnesota in 2004, where a Hmong lit up eight people, killing six? That doesn’t count?


    3. For the first two unless you’re talking about something different the hollywood think was a bank robbery gone bad and dc guys would be put in the serial killer bucket more likely.

      1. Re, the Hollywood robbery. Those guys were covered head to toe in multiple pieces of body armor. IIRC, they’d cannibalized/adopted vests to cover their legs. And they dicked around long enough during the robbery, that you could reasonably infer they wanted to shoot it out with the cops. From the wiki, it took them 15 minutes between entering the bank and leaving the bank. A better answer than they wanted to go out in a blaze of glory though is that they were typical criminals, and therefore had poor impulse control and an inability to think things through.

        All that said, for all the shooting they did, they didn’t kill anyone—yay full auto!—and so wouldn’t have fulfilled the study criteria.

        Aside, with Malvo/Muhammad, I could have sworn it was before 9/11, due to the lack of speculation at the time that the shootings were the work of something like AQ. But you’re right, the wiki says 2002.

  7. This is what a mass killer libertarian looks like, according to a Department of Homeland Security analysis. He works alone. He uses owns a semi-automatic handgun. He’s a he. And he probably didn’t serve in the U.S. military.

    1. It seems to me, based purely on personal experience, that a lot of military folk lean toward libertarianism. Wasn’t Ron Paul the top recipient of active-duty military campaign contributions in 2008?

      1. Based on purely personal experience, vets/troops who actually care about politics are HEAVILY Libertarian. It becomes more tilted almost monthly, especially among us vets who came home and looked around and said “you know what, no, fuck this shit.”

        1. Exactly. Plus, I think military personnel are far more realistic about what can and can’t be accomplished with government policy and regulations.

  8. Let’s lock up all the white guys, 17-49. Works for me.

    1. Could you make that 17-45? That way I am still out gamboling and free, and have less competition!

      1. Must you dredge up the unpleasant memories I have about this place?

      2. And then us old white guys claim minority status and go to the front of the victim line! Hey, that CEO job, it’s mine! I’m being oppressed!

    2. Keep your bondage fantasies to yourself, Anal.

    3. Let’s lock up all the creepy 70 year old white guys who write Sherlock Holmes fan fiction.

  9. They missed the Arkansas school shooting. A pair of guys worked together there, and it was a mass killing. I don’t know what the criteria were, but the DC sniper also worked with a partner.

    1. i think the DC sniper would be a spree killer. one victim at a time over a short time span in multiple locations.

  10. Wow, there sure is some unexpected stupid in this thread.

    1. Are you white, male, and been feminized through the 90s?


      1. My early-to-mid childhood was in the 90s, being raised by my single mother. If I manage get on national TV I promise to wave.


  11. Has anyone studied the relationship between mass murderers and those who insist upon using the word magazine as opposed to clip?

    I’d be willing to bet upwards of 90% of all murderers prefer the use of the word magazine.

    I think we can fix the “gun problem” with a simple screening process. Clip people are free to go. Magazine users…immediate incarceration.

    Problem solved.

  12. Stop me before I kill again.

  13. These mass shootings are so rare, it’s not worth anyone’s time to worry about them. A magazine called “reason” should be pointing this out over and over, not playing along with the hype.

    1. A magazine called “reason” should be pointing this out over and over

      Well, they have. A guy who purports to care what a magazine writes should probably read what they write on a topic before complaining they don’t write about it.

    2. I think you meant a clip called “reason”

      1. Cheers!


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