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Men, not transgender people, are mass shooters

Apr 20, 2023

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After 28-year-old school shooter Audrey Hale killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville, TN, conservative commentators wasted no time in using the shooter’s gender identity to explain the motive. Hale — who was born female but used male pronouns on social media — was receiving treatment for an “emotional disorder” but authorities haven’t tied her mental health to a motive. The question of whether or not mass shooters kill because they’re mentally ill has been studied and debated for years, but there isn’t an easy answer.

Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid offers a few theories about why almost all mass shooters are men.

After the school shooting in Nashville, the far-right made much of the shooter’s gender identity. They identified as trans and they made it into a whole thing. This was unsurprising, but still, the 18-wheeler-sized hoops you have to jump through to claim, as Don Jr. did, that there is an “epidemic of trans/non-binary mass shooters” — it’s impressive considering that 98% of mass shooters are men. It’s men committing these crimes.

The nonpartisan center, The Violence Project — they use data in pursuit of techniques for violence prevention — they have found that increasingly the motivations behind these mass shootings aren’t related to jealousy or revenge, but rather to hate and fame-seeking. What is going on with the boys? I think about this a lot.

What is happening to make them so angry in this specific moment? It’s a tough topic to cover in four minutes, so apologize for the oversimplification but I’ll give it a shot.

You take an entire generation of people who’ve been trained from the day they are born to believe that their value rests entirely on money and possessions — and then you disenfranchise them. You tell them what a good life looks like and then you systematically deprive them of resources or support to achieve those goals.

You tell them that it’s the government’s fault that their life isn’t working out the way they wanted, depriving them of a sense of agency. You stick them in isolating, repetitive jobs with no real forward trajectory or sense of greater meaning. And then you add in the absence of a community life, the total absence of a community in the case of the last three years.

After the school shooting in Nashville, the far right made much of the shooters gender identity. They identified as trans and they made it into a whole thing. This was unsurprising, but still, the 18-wheeler-sized hoops you have to jump through to claim as Don Jr. did, that there is a quote, “epidemic of trans slash non-binary mass shooters” — it’s impressive considering that 98% of mass shooters are men. It’s men committing these crimes. The nonpartisan center, The Violence Project — they use data in pursuit of techniques for violence prevention — they have found that increasingly the motivations behind these mass shootings aren’t related to jealousy or revenge, but rather to hate and fame-seeking. What is going on with the boys? I think about this a lot. What is happening to make them so angry in this specific moment? It’s a tough topic to cover in four minutes, so apologize for the oversimplification, but I’ll give it a shot. You take an entire generation of people who’ve been trained from the day they are born to believe that their value rests entirely on money and possessions — and then you disenfranchise them. You tell them what a good life looks like and then you systematically deprive them of resources or support to achieve those goals. You tell them that it’s the government’s fault that their life isn’t working out the way they wanted, depriving them of a sense of agency. You stick them in isolating, repetitive jobs with no real forward trajectory or sense of greater meaning. And then you add in the absence of a community life, the total absence of a community in the case of the last three years. So you have disenfranchisement, a lack of meaning, an absence of community, and then throw on top of that the fact that — and this may sound silly, but bear with me — that romantic connections are almost exclusively made by dating apps where something like, and this is true, something like 20% of the men get 100% of the attention from women. And I know that in this context, that might sound like a silly statistic, but think about it. That’s a huge number of men who cannot connect with potential romantic partners. It’s a tremendous stressor. It’s not a far leap from all of this fear, isolation, and anxiety to the far-right crowd, largely because with identification with that crowd comes an immediate sense of purpose of identity. On Jen Psaki’s MSNBC show the other day, Daily Show correspondent Jordan Clapper said that the former president’s supporters have quote “trickily turned AR-15s into a new MAGA hat.” In the same way that the red baseball cap is imbued with meaning far beyond a political affiliation, it’s a communication of who you are as a person. Clapper holds that the AR-15 has taken on status as a point of pride. To many of these AR-15 advocates, it’s not about the gun. It’s about what the gun says about you. It fascinates me when the far-right blames mental health for the gun violence epidemic. Of course, it’s mental health. They take this sole trans person who’s perpetrated a school shooting and they make it into an epidemic of trans-aggression. Two things can exist at the same time without creating a false equivalency. So yes, I believe that our collective mental health is at a breaking point. I believe that there is a certain demographic of men out there who are in dire need of intervention. But also you take a country in the throes of a mental health crisis and fill their Walmart’s with assault rifles. You can believe that the boys are not alright, and also believe that the guns aren’t either.

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