Mass shootings are occurring at an alarming rate in the United States. The most recent mass shooting was just over a week ago at the Orlando nightclub, Pulse, in which 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded. The Orlando mass shooting sent psychiatrists, government officials, and law enforcement agencies scrambling for a pattern to try and understand why these mass shootings keep happening.
Many people are wanting to restructure mental health programs to make it more accessible, others are looking at gun control legislation to cut down on the amount incidents of mass shootings. Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is spreading the idea that Muslims are the problem in these mass shootings, that Muslims kill people. However, when the data is broken down, there is only one clear factor in all of these mass shootings.
For over three years, Mother Jones has been looking at the data and breaking down each of the 81 mass shootings that has occurred in the United States since 1982, and they found that there is one common denominator, and it is gender. While ethnicity, race, religion, and other factors were all studied, the only commonality was that 79 out of the 81 shootings were perpetrated by men.
Since 1982, there have only been three women have pulled the trigger in these mass shootings. In the Goleta Postal shooting in 2006, Jennifer San Marco murdered seven people. Cherie Lash Rhodes killed four people in the 2014 Alturas Tribal shooting. Tashfeen Malik and her husband were behind the San Bernardino shooting last December in which 14 people died.
James Garabino, author of the book Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My 20 Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases, has also pointed out that mass shootings are overwhelmingly perpetrated by males, and 90 percent of killers overall in the United States are men. He and other criminologists and psychiatrists are pointing to the idea of a culture of “toxic masculinity” as the root cause of violence.
According to Amanda Marcotte in a Salon article about the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, she attempts to define toxic masculinity. The idea is a “a specific model of manhood, geared towards dominance and control. It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world.” There is a concern that this rapidly-spreading toxic masculinity, combined with easy accessibility to high-powered guns, can cause the frequency of mass shootings to continue.