The misogyny fueling America's mass shootings

What fuels shooters’ rage?

Researchers say many mass shooters are driven by a distorted view of masculinity, believing that being a “real man” requires aggression and domination. Some feel shame over men’s diminished status in the economic and social order, which they take out on the women in their lives. “When it comes to male mass shooters,” said Hamline University criminology professor Jillian Peterson, many think that “the world owes me more than what I have.” Others are loners who have failed to establish relationships with women and seethe with rage over that rejection. Robert Aaron Long, who went on a shooting spree at Atlanta-area massage parlors last March, said he felt tortured that he had sinned by paying for sex. He decided to remove the source of temptation by attacking three parlors and killing eight people, six of them Asian women.

Do most abusers become killers?

No — but the sheer number of mass shootings committed by abusers correlates with how widespread gun-related domestic violence is in America. In an average month in the U.S., more than 50 women are fatally shot by their partners. That figure alone doesn’t reflect the full scale of the crisis. A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study found that some 4.5 million women have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner and that nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at. “We really have to redouble our efforts in terms of preventing intimate-partner homicide,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, “especially in terms of guns.”