One thing that ties recent mass shootings? Harassment

One thing that ties recent mass shootings? Harassment
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

One thing I think we do a terrible job of when it comes to preventing mass shootings is trying to get a peek inside the minds of the killers.

People don’t just wake up one day and suddenly decide to slaughter people by the gross. That kind of pathology likely develops over time, which means it can be prevented from ever happening, preferably without a single restriction on any civil liberty.

In fairness, there have been looks at what mass shooters have in common. They found things like treatment for mental illness and broken homes as common themes.

Yet in looking at recent shootings, I found something else. A history of harassment.

I’m not talking about them necessarily harassing others, but instead being the victims of harassment.

Let’s start with the University of Virginia shooter. He allegedly killed three of the school’s football players after a field trip.

However, it also appears that he reported to his father that he was the victim of bullying.

The alleged killer at Club Q in Colorado Springs also dealt with harassment, and on a much larger scale. In fact, entire legions on the internet enjoyed harassing him.

In Chesapeake, the killer there left a note outlining his grievances, which included claims of being harassed by others.

That’s three recent killers who were either being harassed or felt as if they were, but they’re not the only ones.

In Uvalde, for example, the killer there had a history of being harassed, with some actually calling him a school shooter.

Now, understand that nothing about this is an attempt to excuse these killings. It’s not. There’s literally no valid reason to respond to harassment like this with homicidal action.

But if we’re ever going to uncover the roots of these horrific crimes, we simply have to discuss some uncomfortable things. That includes any potential role that harassment of these individuals might play in this.

It’s not an excuse and I’m not necessarily saying the harassers are responsible for these crimes. No, that responsibility rests on those who pull the trigger, as it always has.

Yet on the same token, if this is a unifying thread, then it’s a thread we as a society can work together to severe.

It’s one thing to be in the public sphere and receive harsh reactions to what you’ve offered up. I’ve been there myself and while it sucks, it’s the price you pay for playing in that sandbox.

But these cases appear to be different. These are people who were reportedly being harassed without that kind of action.

Now, I also have to admit that harassment may not be the issue, but a persecution complex. Maybe many of these people who reported being harassed really weren’t. It’s possible that they just thought the criticism they received was harassment when it was really nothing of the sort.

Sure, we know at least some were actually harassed and bullied, but it’s possible this isn’t a unifying thread among mass killers. I don’t think it is, necessarily, but I wouldn’t be intellectually honest if I didn’t concede the possibility.

Either way, this is something that the supposed experts should be looking at.

Too bad they can’t look beyond pushing for gun control.