The enormity of this devastation is incalculable. There are the small coffins of the victims killed during a holiday season at a tender age. It is also the death of the safety of a Norman Rockwellian. We now know that none are safe.
This shooting, like so many others before, has sparked a debate on gun control and the need for adequate healthcare for our nation’s mentally ill. But glaringly omitted from the national discourse is the motive of these mass shootings that are purported predominately within a specific demographic group— young white privileged men.
“I think we need to examine critically, the fact that most mass shooting are done by young, white, relatively economically privileged males. What is it about their socialization that results in the manifestation of their mental illness in a rage-fueled carnage of this magnitude? If we don’t ask these questions, along with all the others, I fear we are missing an important factor in this and other mass shooting tragedies,” wrote an academic administrator from UMASS Boston in an email to me.
The Columbine High School massacre in 1999 involved two young white males, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Both were from an affluent suburb of Colorado. Their massacre of schoolmates called attention to the killers next door. At least for a while. Loners wearing trench coats dominated the news then faded into the background.
This oversight in examination might be one of the reasons mass shootings by white young men from middle class families seems to be happening more frequently.
For example, a list of mass shootings compiled by the online blog “Think Progress” of this specific demographic group reveals, not including Newton, that this year alone there have been seven:
- December 11, 2012. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts killed 2 people and himself with a stolen rifle in Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
- September 27, 2012. Five were shot to death by 36-year-old Andrew Engeldinger at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, MN. Three others were wounded. Engeldinger went on a rampage after losing his job, ultimately killing himself.
- August 5, 2012. Six Sikh temple members were killed when 40-year-old US Army veteran Wade Michael Page opened fire in a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Four others were injured, and Page killed himself.
- July 20, 2012. During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO, 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58.
- May 29, 2012. Ian Stawicki opened fire on Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle, WA, killing 5 and himself after a citywide manhunt.
- April 6, 2012. Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, shot 5 black men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in racially motivated shooting spree. Three died.
- February 27, 2012. Three students were killed by Thomas “TJ” Lane, another student, in a rampage at Chardon High School in Chardon, OH. Three others were injured.