Why do mass shootings happen

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do mass shootings happen

Its quite understandable why would a person kill another even though its a really bad thing But why would a person grab a gun then start shooting people randomly?

In the first case the killer usually has a strong intention to kill a certain person for a certain specific reason but in the second case all the victims seem to be selected randomly, what's the explanation then?

Every few month , sometimes more often, we hear about a mass shooting incident somewhere in the world. Of course its obvious that the availability of weapons is the main cause of the problem but because i only care about the psychological factors i am going to analyze this type of crime from a psychological point of view.

Many people blame mental illness for shooting incidents but surprisingly many of those who did that crime were found to be normal individuals who don't suffer from a serious mental illness.

Yes most of them were found to be subjected to extra stress, some of them were found to have gone through recent breakups or job losses but again all of these factors are normally experienced by most ordinary people.

Before i go on with the analysis let me ask you a question first, what if the shooting
wasn't happening randomly or what if the people shot down were carefully selected?

Individual psychology and mass shootings

Individual psychology is one school of psychology that can provide a very good insight on the weird behavior of people. According to individual psychology any behavior , even a one as odd as shooting others, is there to help the person reach his ultimate psychological goals.

In other words that weird behavior is done by a person because he wants to achieve mental balance. So what does this has to do with mass shooting?

If a person failed to reach his psychological goals in the socially acceptable way he might use other ways in order to reach the same goals. (see Understanding human behavior)

If for example a person who wanted to feel worthy and important got rejected by his peers then he might try to prove to them that he is worthy by excelling at something else.

But what if that other strategy failed as well? After trying many of the peaceful strategies without getting results some people will shift to more dangerous ones based on how they were raised to think of violence.

Jealousy, envy and Mass shootings

Studies have found that envy and jealousy were behind many of the mass shootings that happened. In other words a person could shoot all the people he felt jealous of in order to regain his self worth and to feel good about himself.

In another study mass shooters were found to ignore those who used to bully them and to shoot those they were jealous of. Again this shows that mass shooting can be nothing more than a soloution to the psychological imbalance a person is suffering from (according to the person's point of view).

Now you might ask yourself why would a person shoot his mother before he starts shooting others?

Research has also shown that resentment is one of the major forces that motivates a person to shoot others. If a person resented one of his parents for a certain reason then he might believe that the best soloution is to get rid of that parent.

But what about shooting kids?
Again envy could be the drive, if a person believed he had a miserable childhood then he might start shooting happy children. If a person hated the fact that he is ugly then he might start shooting handsome kids.

To summarize it all, mass shooting can be the final soloution a desperate person applied because he failed to apply all other socially acceptable solutions.

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