Few things strike terror into the heart of everyday Americans than the story of some deranged lunatic going on a crazed rampage mowing down innocents.
Whether that be the heartbreaking tragedy of school shootings or the unexpected horror of someone in a concert hall, public transport or any enclosed space suddenly pulling out a gun and aiming at it at the unsuspecting person.
The tragedy of the deaths and injuries aside what adds fuel to this curse is the possibility of how it was all preventable if the right steps had been prior.
The case of some madman who decides to take the life of his fellow countrymen was able to get to a stage where he manages to pull it off with a degree of ‘success’, which becomes a source of fury for the shell-shocked public.
And when it comes to discussions concerning what’s to be done to prevent such tragedies the debate immediately and sadly gets political.
Pretty much like anything in America these days, the politicization of a subject matter, no matter how personal, impactful, and seemingly bipartisan, is almost an inevitability.
With divergent, and often contradictory assessments and recommendations for the problem at hand.
With major problems like gun-related crime and violence, the reality is sadly too political for its own good.
In this post, we will break down by problem of crime related to guns, and try to make sense of some (but not all) of the underlying forces that give rise to them.
And at the end, we try to provide some pointers on where a possible solution may lie in addressing this serious problem that afflicts the soul of America.
Gun Related Crime: The Identity of the Perpetrator
Gun related crime and violence (as the victims are often also the perpetrators) take two forms: homicides and suicides.
In the year 2020 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a total of 45,222 people died of gun related action. But not all of them were acts that were directed against someone else.
Of the 45, 000 + gun related deaths, a majority of them were suicides: 24, 292 (1).
This is an interesting number considering that in the United States for the same year (2020) there were around 45, 979 suicides in America (2). Which means around half of them were caused by guns.
And when it comes to mass shootings, the perpetrator, who is often at the end of a long process of mental breakdown, after taking the life of the innocents (or as he would believe, his ‘oppressors’) the perpetrator often proceeds to use the weapon on himself.
Himself. That’s right. When it comes to shootings in America, and frankly any kind of gun related violence or crime, the statistic that almost always stands out, but one that is sadly ever emphasized (or even mentioned) is the sex (or gender) of the perpetrator.
When it comes to shootings and crimes related to firearms in the United States the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators are men or more broadly male. Including when it comes to the evil of school shootings. Which have gone down in number, but remain a constant threat.
To get into the numbers once again: somewhere between 94 – 98 percent of mass shooting that took place between 2009 – 2020 in the United States, were carried out by men (3). To say nothing of the fact that men overall, are the main perpetrators of all crime!
Whilst mass murders like Stephen Paddock, who was responsible for the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, fit the bill of a demon seed (with a criminal father and broken family).
However, his actions nonetheless at a deeper level, correlate with something men, and yes, and I mean all men have in common. Something deep within us:
That is the instinct to fight. The Instinct to rebel. The instinct to kill.
The only difference is that the overwhelming majority of men choose not to act on these impulses. Or better, are able to get their life ordered in such a way that such a (drastic and deadly) course of action becomes unthinkable.
The question is: what is happening to the rest of them who go down a different path?
The Causes of Mass Shootings?
What is the root of the problem that is giving rise to these men, many of them young souls, who choose to not only go down the path of crime and punishment; but prior to that, to breakdown mentally (as it is often the case) leading them to contemplate such horrific choices.
Leaving aside, for the moment certain conspiracy theories (that such shootings are planned by unknown forces, to cause ….. in order to …..), the point we can confidently agree on is that the men, and yes it is overwhelmingly men-whilst there is a small number of female shooters as well-have something wrong with them.
Something is wrong upstairs.
In the sense that it is a problem that manifests itself psychotically, but one that is also a problem of beliefs. Of values and virtues and the lack of mental resilience to external pressures.
Speaking of bad beliefs, the modus operandi of these mass shooters is not so different from these terrorists that blow themselves up killing innocent people, all in the name of some ‘belief’.
Interesting isn’t it?
Whilst the tempting and often predictable explanation for such atrocities is often the dangers of badly diagnosed or managed mental health conditions and/or the lack of regulation when it comes to gun ownership.
What is often ignored or downplayed is the developmental question that leads up to these tragedies.
The shooters' mental breakdown, either in a short period or over the course of many years is something that can be confronted and prevented. If the guy gets the help he needs such kills could have been prevented.
But how do we know this? Well, looking at the problem more broadly, and in case the point is missed, as men, we all have that killer lurking inside of us.
You may think it is uncanny, but as a product of evolution: one that involved us running away from a chasing saber tooth tiger, cutting down prey with an axe, to killing the male rival who is looking to mate with your ‘partner’.
Men in a way, have to have the capacity to kill. And it stays with us.
This is the mysterious source of power that comes from being male. The killer in you is never too far away.
Think of it this way, if someone breaks into your house, what is the first thing you will do?
Well besides dialing 911 (If you are in the US), you will, or ought to look for a weapon to defend yourself. Be it a gun a hammer or a knife.
This is not to say that women can’t or are unable to do it. It is just that we men are programmed to be fighters and defenders. And yes even killers.
So. With that knowledge behind us, let us return to the subject of these shooters. What is wrong with them? And what makes them do what they do?
What Drives the Thinking of a Killer
The first point to consider is that these shooters who choose to take the life of innocent people are also human.
As difficult as it may be, the murderer who gunned down dozens of people in Las Vegas, or the loveless incel Elliot Rodger, who took the lives of ten people and then his own, all of these guys at some point, were like you and me.
They were normal people, with ordinary or normal aspirations: such as to do well in life.
In fact, speaking of Mr. Paddock, the man responsible for the worst mass shooting in US history, this guy was a successful businessman, having made his money in gambling and other investments.
The trouble is that somewhere along the way things fell apart for this man (the shooter), as it does for countless men, who have taken a path that leads to (self) destruction. The difference here is that the shooter decides to take his anger on the world.
You see what is generally missed in these debates concerning shooters and the methods of prevention is the mindset and personal history of the perpetrator.
The overtly political character of American life means that people instinctively jump to talking points that come politically loaded, and are naturally polarizing with various sections of the public. (kind of like how it came to another such subject that started just a few years ago).
This does not help. And often undermines the efforts toward finding lasting solutions.
To be clear, this is not to say that those to use the expression ‘blame guns and not the person’ is entirely wrong.
No doubt access to firearms, and the ease of which is to take a life or many lives with such a weapon, s a contributory factor.
However, what is equally important, especially given the reality on the ground (the availability of legal arms), is that one is realistic and focuses on what one can control.
Whilst the legislative path and law enforcement methods for protecting the innocent must be pursued, what cannot be forgotten is the human element.
At the end of the day the guy who decided on the idea that using a gun to kill and maim as many people as he can before (usually) taking his own life, was a person who, as a result of a variety of factors thought it was justified to do so.
The question is why?
Whilst we don’t claim to have an answer to such a complex and painfully real question, what we can point towards is the underlying factors and forces that can lead people, especially men, and boys to do such things. This takes us to the next main point.
Men without Meaning and Purpose
At Bulldog Mindset we talk a lot about helping men and women become better, stronger, and ideally the best versions of themselves.
And we are unafraid to say that our work has a strong and in many ways unapologetic tilt towards the concerns that affect the lives of men.
When it comes to engaging key questions of life:
Confidence and Social Calibration
Success in Relationships (Dating)
Our aim is to teach, guide, and equip men in these particular areas, so that they, as members of a community of individuals who are working together, and on their own to learn and grow, are better able to face the challenges that life throws at them.
Consider it as an almost indirect way to tackle the problem at a deeper level (psychologically) that could potentially drive men towards such destructive practices.
By helping men to build confidence, improve their fitness and mental focus, and to increase their chances with the ladies (no incels here!) we work to ensure that men are on the right track.
By the ‘right track’ we are talking about a life where the temptation to ‘burn down the system’ or even the very thought of that never arises!
Because, once you have sorted the fundamentals of your life out: where the money is coming from and how; your fitness and mental focus; your long-term plans to build a business or get a promotion; to have a loving girlfriend, wife, or for some, a meaningful dating life.
When these key elements are locked in, the idea of getting hold of a gun and destroying innocent life, and ultimately one's own, will not cross the mind.
As things stand, when it comes to crime prevention, the key lifestyle questions are generally not considered.
And let’s not kid ourselves. Money alone is not enough. As Elliot Rodger and the Las Vegas shooter prove, the thing that pulls a guy down is what he is missing in life. And that ‘something’ could be anything.
But it generally comes down to one of the five we listed above. Underlying them all it is one of purpose. Which is the next point on our list.
The Cure for Shootings: Helping Men Lead a Life of Purpose
We understand. This is not the solution a lot of people are looking for.
Especially when it comes to preventing the next mass shooting or gun-related crime that could (but hopefully never) rock a neighborhood near you.
However, when it comes to finding a lasting solution to this serious problem, there needs to be a multi-pronged approach. Which must also involve a long-term one.
An approach that takes into consideration the developmental factors that contribute to the mindset and later worldview of men.
Our philosophy is to help people. Men specifically. To help them do well in life. Our belief is that success is life is arguably the best marker when it comes to preventing someone from doing something bad, stupid, or destructive.
This means the solution needs to happen because people believe that they need the help they need. Even if they think they don’t.
When it comes to the problem of mass-shootings, a closer look at American society reveals that it is closely tied to the (low) status of men, and their psychological state.
It is not a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of shooters are men, and the majority of those who take their lives (often with firearms) are also men.
And if you have read our main post on the status of men in the West, which we would encourage you to do, you will know that things are not looking rosy for vast numbers of men.
This is a serious social problem.
Whilst the attention is almost always on the success of celebrities, millionaires, and billionaires, there is little attention given to the men at the lowermost levels of society.
And guess what: It is from these streets that such specimens emerge and destroy lives. Or the men who are headed in that direction.
Around this part of this post, we would usually plug in some links to our personal and professional development products and programs. Pitching some of our solutions which are catered towards helping people become the best versions of themselves.
But given the nature of this topic, instead, we suggest that you take a look around our site. Read a few more of our blogs. Or visit the YouTube Channel of its founder: John Sonmez. To get an idea of what we are doing and why.
His story is a personal and powerful one. It is about a guy who has pretty much all he needs and wants and then some but wishes to do more. To help and to give. Especially for those guys out there, who are looking for that leadership to make it in this tough but potentially rewarding story called life.
In the meantime: Good luck and stay safe!
- BBC. 2023. Gun violence in US and what the statistics tell us. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081. [Accessed 28 February 2023].
- CDC. 2020. Suicide Data and Statistics. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html. [Accessed 28 February 2023].
- ABC. 2021. Guys and guns: Why men are behind the vast majority of America's gun violence. [ONLINE] Available at: https://abcnews.go.com/US/guys-guns-men-vast-majority-americas-gun-violence/story?id=79125485. [Accessed 28 February 2023].