What Drives Mass Shooters?

We pray we never hear about another mass shooting. Unfortunately, it has happened twice in the last few weeks. Our hearts and prayers go out to anyone who has been affected by the senseless violence of these shootings.

In light of the recent tragedies, here is a resource with some warning signs. I know it says School Shootings, but the information can be applied in a variety of areas.

With school starting across the country over the next few weeks, how do you prepare your children for the possibility that this may happen in their school?


It is sad that this even has to be considered! But, better to be prepared to win than prepared for your funeral.


Thanks God I don’t need anymore… I’ve never thought about this when my kids were at school :lying_face:
I was always thinking that Officer at front door could handle everything… Now I know I was wrong…
I hope school management is prepared for such situations… :thinking:

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Schools are Gun Free zones so they are definitely not prepared.


What drives them? There are some common factors that apply to most if not all.

1 They are outcasts and often bullied.

2 In almost all cases they have been previously identified as having some significant mental’/psychological/psychiatric issues that were not addressed at all or were never properly addressed.

3 They are in the classic sense “losers” who have little or no hope of success in life and find themselves at a crisis point where they decide the only way they’ll ever be remembered is to do something infamous.

4 Most, if not all seek and find other people with similar issues/problems either in the real world or more often in various online communities hat cater to that crowd where they have their “issues” reinforced by others and are encouraged to act out in infamous ways.

How to prepare kids for these possibilities? Don’t over dramatize it, we’ve spent a coupe of generations now teaching kids to pretty well live in fear of strangers, even teachers/staff, police and all adults that have not been preapproved by the parents instilling a constant state of fear and “bunker mentality” that is not health in them.

While not overdoing it, teach them that bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time and instruct them to pay attention in any “active shooter” training that the school provides. If the school doesn’t provide any such training, as parents you should feel obligated to go to your local school board and demand that such training is made part of the stander emergency procedures training kids get for such things as hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires.

If no organized training is provided then rely on resources like the USCCA’s “Countering the Mass Shooting Threat” course as a foundation for setting up your own instruction for the kids so as to help them and their friends survive should such an event take place.

Kids don’t need to be raised in fear but they do need to be given the skills to help save their own lives in any type of emergency particularly those when you as parents cannot be present to guide them in person.

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Unfortunately my oldest is only 4 so it’s been very limited on preparing him. However he goes to a very small private school. Half the kids a kids from my church so we are very close.
While from a security point of view this doesn’t make him safer, the idea of someone trying to get attention would more than likely go after the much bigger schools in the area. That’s a terrible way to think but it is a factor of what drives these people. I posted a video in another topic that touched on this. It seems they are in competition with each other and the news helps make them famous for it.


When I grew up it was dont run in the hallways at school, dont take candy from strangers, don’t talk to strangers, never get into a car with someone you dont know, i.e. you get the point. Now they order online with their phone a Uber driver (they think its him cause it looks like they are waiting on the bus) and get into a car with a driver that pulls over, doesnt matter about GPS tracking and here is your driver, they have no !@@#$$%^ idea who it is. Nothing makes sense to me anymore and hasnt since Participation Trophys for this generation.

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Contemporary data is showing they are much more likely to be the bully than to have been the victim of bullying. They often see themselves as victims, but from the outside they are the one doing the bullying

Some of them have actually been members of, or accepted by peer groups. There is a common theme of feeling rejected though.

In both of those, there is a clear disconnect between objective assessment of their circumstances and their perceptions / internal experience and that seems to be key.

I’m nitpicking these two because the school shooters have not been loners who are actually being bullied but rather outsider, but not friendsless, kids who believe they are.

For study data on school shooters, and specific details on both of the above notes:

Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters

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I’m not just talking about school shootings but even with school shooters it’s quite common that they were the ones being bullied and otherwise made outcasts.

Early childhood trauma of various sorts is also a pretty common thread.


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According to the article @Wildrose just shared:

Over half of the shooters were not bullied:

Of the 48 shooters I studied, I estimate that approximately 40% experienced some kind of bullying. This means, of course, that approximately 60% did not.

And 54% were actually the bully themselves:

The fact that school shooters often bully others is rarely attended to, but approximately 54% of the perpetrators harassed, intimidated, threatened, or assaulted people prior to their attacks.

The paper also goes on to say that all of the shooters didn’t target the people that bullied them or made them to feel outcast. A lot targeted teachers who gave them bad grades. There are a lot of motives and it’s hard to narrow them down to one overarching motive that they all shared.

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I think the search for motives may be the wrong question. The thing that really stands out to me is that while the motives vary… get back a a teacher, get back at a girl or girls in general, get back at popular kids for shutting them out, get back at a bully… it’s mostly about getting back at someone.

The experience underneath all those motives is one of having been unjustly done unto… I think that’s the thing we should be looking for.

The common themes are:

  1. feeling victimized, rejected, or cheated of something they are due (regardless of if it’s true or not),
  2. in combination with rage about those feelings,
  3. the inability to see their own responsibility or participation in the situation,
  4. the inability to see themselves as in shades of gray, only as alternating all-loser or all-powerful,
  5. and a lack of empathy for or strong connection to other people.

Add some poor impulse control and a lack of maturity and I think you have the secret sauce for a school shooter, bomber, slasher, poisoner, or (insert available weapon)er.

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My daughter is well past school age and no longer works as a substitute teacher. Even so, when a school related news item catches my eye (several times a week) I say to her …“You would SO be home schooled!”

Considering the “high school graduates” I have encountered when interviewing applicants for employment, or subsequently working with them, I sincerely believe I could do a better job than the local public schools, and most of the church affiliated schools as well.


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One on one, I think we could all be really good teachers. However, when you look at what they deal with on a daily basis - the number of kids, the lack of attention span, the lack of support from parents and school districts, the lack of self-discipline kids have, the lack of proper supplies - the job today’s teachers do is pretty amazing.

I do not envy them their jobs and I would hope parents step up and help teach their children respect and self-discipline so they can be productive in school and in life.

[Putting my soapbox away…] :smiley:

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I in no way meant to lay the blame on any teacher. It is the system as a whole which fails so regularly and significantly to accomplish their primary task, which is TEACHING. I would not consider teaching in the public school system given the prevailing conditions.

My point is that, at home with my daughter one on one, my wife and I could educate her more fully and meaningfully than our local public schools are able to, given current conditions and policies. And that doesn’t even consider the safety issues.



While schools may not, I have noticed teachers who are. There are a few teachers at my kids school that have previous military experience. During Parent / Teacher conferences I have also noticed shop and sporting equipment stored in non-traditional locations… I only know one of the teachers well enough to ask them directly and that teacher confirmed it. These are the teachers you need to point out to your kids when you talk to them about how to react to a shooter in the school.

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That’s awesome to hear, @Greg1.

Anything can be a weapon with the right mindset. But it takes a lot of mental training to be able to run toward gunfire instead of away from it.

So many teachers are incredibly selfless when it comes to their students. It’s amazing to see. I pray we never hear about another shooting at a school or a teacher dying to defend their children…


What drives mass shooters? Is a complexed question. In short it’s an act of terror; wherever it takes place. These individuals are trying to change and influence by fear. As tragic, one life is too much, as each shooting is. Its often used politically and emotionally to alter use of God given rights. Control, notoriety or spectacle.

On a daily basis people dye, without the media bias and coverage. Daily Examples: Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit to name just a few. No media coverage, these victims/ families remain nameless and forgotten. Why?,it doesn’t fit the political narrative or agenda. So sad. People are dying in so many ways daily, massively. This is not the governments job. It’s responsible and accountable citizens job. To protect our families and preserve our rights. Be careful, once there lost you’ll never get them back.

Not to minimize any loss, by no means. I lost several family members to gun violence. Not easy to process nor does one think justice is always properly served. As I am a Military & LEO veteran, caring family member and neighbor.

Taking the emotions away for a moment, turn off the cameras and fake news, for just a minute. Look at some facts in the same timeframe of the latest mass coverage of the shootings.

In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings.

On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose…

500 to Medical errors
300 to the Flu
250 to Suicide
200 to Car Accidents
40 to Homicide via Handgun

Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.

Just a perspective, again not minimizing any loss. One is TOO Many. God bless us. Its a cultural thing taking hold. It seems people have become desensitized, until they wake up to the reality. Shooter in El Paso manifesto; said he would be killed by police and was ready to die for the cause. He didn’t. There’s no come back, no reset button for taking a life. Speedy tough justice and finding a way to help people deal with mental/emotional situations or just life., may help.


Exactly. Thank you for your rational and clear-headed post @Stephon


We need ALICE training to go mainstream into every school, just like fire drills. I’ve taken the ALICE course from a local PD, who has also gone into local schools and taught the course to the teachers. All teachers in a local city school district were required to take a 3-day ALICE course, which included a day on a live-fire shooting range (for firearm familiarization, not to train them to carry on the job) as well as a full day of running force-on-force scenarios inside their school. They had PD members in red suits enter the school as active shooters and the teachers had to respond according to the ALICE training model. Needless to say, even the little 95-pound, anti-gun ladies were able to take down a 220-pound police officer after receiving only one day of training. When it was all said and done, the entire faculty was prepared to properly respond to an active shooter in order to minimize the impact of such an event.


I’d say that over 40% rates as “often”.

If they are just targeting teachers/faculty/staff as individuals they are not mass shooters.

We need to separate the two because the mass shooter is usually a completely different animal than someone going after a specific individual.

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