David Swanson / DavidSwanson.org & World Beyond War – 2018-04-26 23:41:03
What Mass Killers Tend to Have in Common
David Swanson / DavidSwanson.org & World Beyond War
(April 25, 2018) — It may almost seem too obvious to mention, but I don’t think that’s why we so seldom mention it. I don’t mean being male, or being mentally disturbed, or having been cruel to women, or living in places like the United States where it’s easy to acquire weapons of war. These and many other factors are very significant and very often discussed, as they should be, when we consider mass killings.
There’s something else that ties a lot of mass killers together, and it’s also obvious, but seldom discussed. The man who killed with a van in Toronto had been briefly in the Canadian military * and promoted his crime on Facebook beforehand as a military operation.
The same day he killed in Toronto, the G7 countries were meeting at the University of Toronto and declaring their unified hostility toward Russia. The mass killing on Toronto’s streets sought to solve problems in the same way that the Canadian government and its allies seek to solve problems.
The recent mass-killing in a Florida High School was also promoted by the killer as a military operation, in the sense that he wore his JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) shirt and killed in the same school where the US Army had trained him to shoot and instructed him in war-supporting views of the world and its history.
Why should anyone notice such points or generalize from them? Don’t members of militaries and veterans have it hard enough already without such gross bigotry?
There’s actually no need to generalize. Looking at a long list of mass shootings in the United States, almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general US population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 — by averaging the percentages for each age year — about 14.76 percent of US men are veterans, but at least 35% of these shooters were veterans.
I determined that by quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, so the percentage is likely to be significantly higher. I found no news reports that stated that any of the shooters had not been in the military.
In US mass shootings, military veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably much more likely than that. Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive.
But here’s what else might be counterproductive: Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society taught by schools and entertainment systems that mass-killing is the way to solve problems.
Mass killing in the United States gets you on the news, and if you happen to be a president bombing a distant land it gets you widely praised and labeled as “finally presidential.”
Of course it’s possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn’t some truth to that.
But it’s also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings — and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable — makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn’t truth in that.
The most killing Western societies do is done abroad by their militaries. In the United States, hundreds of deadly shootings every year are committed by police officers — disproportionately military veterans.
Suicides, as well, are disproportionately committed by veterans. And not because we are untactful in pointing to problems, but because we generally fail to admit to and deal with problems. Veteran suicides are driven by guilt over having participated in killing. That guilt is the top factor in predicting suicide, according to the US Veterans Administration.
Militarism will continue to cause extensive damage until we shift our culture to nonviolence. That shift needs to include our governments, and it needs to treat the illness, not just its symptoms. The answer to gun violence is not more guns any more than the answer to van violence is more vans. I hope that seems obvious. It should.
* Canada’s Globe and Mail described Mr. Minassian as a “young man with developmental disorders who failed as a military recruit.” An “expert in computers” diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder, Minassian “never received weapons training . . . but was about a week from being issued a rifle [for] . . . live-fire training.” — EAW
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswansonand FaceBook
Note: World BEYOND War will be holding a conference in Toronto this September 21 and 22. See below.
No War 2018 Conference
World BEYOND War
In Toronto: September 21-22
Join World BEYOND War for our annual global conference in Toronto on September 21 and 22, 2018, at OCAD University (Ontario College of Art and Design University), 100 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T 1W1, Canada.
You say you’re against war, but what’s the alternative? Let’s design and build an alternative system of global governance — one in which peace is pursued by peaceful means.
Learn how at #NoWar2018!
We will explore how the rule of law has been used both to restrain war and to legitimize it — and how we can re-design systems to abolish the institution of war and uphold human and ecological justice.
The conference will take place on
Friday Sept 21 (5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., doors open at 4:00 p.m.) and
Saturday Sept 22. (9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.).
Local groups may organize a film festival and a book event on Sept 20. A blue-scarf march through Toronto is planned for 2 p.m. on Sept 23.
Spread the word!