Fox & DeLateur, 2014, Mass Shooting, HomStudies

Fox & DeLateur, 2014, Mass Shooting, HomStudies -...

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Homicide Studies 2014, Vol. 18(1) 125–145 © 2013 SAGE Publications Reprints and permissions: DOI: 10.1177/1088767913510297 Article Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown James Alan Fox 1 and Monica J. DeLateur 1 Abstract Mass shootings at a Connecticut elementary school, a Colorado movie theater, and other venues have prompted a fair number of proposals for change. Advocates for tighter gun restrictions, for expanding mental health services, for upgrading security in public places, and, even, for controlling violent entertainment have made certain assumptions about the nature of mass murder that are not necessarily valid. This article examines a variety of myths and misconceptions about multiple homicide and mass shooters, pointing out some of the difficult realities in trying to avert these murderous rampages. While many of the policy proposals are worthwhile in general, their prospects for reducing the risk of mass murder are limited. Keywords mass murder, subtypes, school shootings, trends, public policy, correlates Calendar year 2012 offered a rich variety of hot topics for media coverage and public debate. The political campaign season featured an unprecedented number of presiden- tial hopefuls and televised candidate debates, while the year’s hurricane season resulted in wide-ranging destruction, primarily from Superstorm Sandy. In addition, the debate over universal health care culminated in the most highly anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling in decades. Nothing, however, surpassed the amount and intensity of interest, at least from a news perspective, than the scourge of mass murder, specifically, a movie theater ram- page in Aurora, Colorado, in July and then a public school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in mid-December. As one measure of media attention, the Associated Press’s year-end poll of news editors placed mass shootings as the leading news story of 2012 (Associated Press, 2012). 1 Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA Corresponding Author: James Alan Fox, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Email: [email protected] 510297 HSX 18 1 10.1177/1088767913510297Homicide Studies Fox and DeLateur research-article 2013 at University of British Columbia Library on September 12, 2016 Downloaded from
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126 Homicide Studies 18(1) Even before the final death toll from the shooting spree at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School was determined, politicians, pundits, and professors of various disciplines were all over the media, pushing their proposals for change. Some talked about the role of guns, others about access to mental health services, and still more about the need for enhanced security in schools and other public places. Whatever their agenda or the passion behind it, these advocates made certain assumptions con- cerning patterns in mass murder and the profile of mass killers. Unfortunately, these assumptions were not always consistent with the facts.
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