Are Mass Murders on the Rise?

In the year since Orange County's deadliest mass murder, dozens more have died in similar massacres around the nation including Friday's school shooting. Why is this happening?

It's barely a year since Orange County suffered its deadliest mass murder when eight people were killed by a lone gunman at a Seal Beach salon. Since that tragedy, dozens more have been killed in similar massacres, victims of a disturbing increase in mass murders.

July brought the Aurora movie theater massacre, in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded. A UC Irvine professor was arrested in late July before carrying out what authorities say was a plot to shoot, in his own words, 200 students at an Irvine high school. In August, there was the shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin that left seven dead. In October, a gunman killed three women in a beauty salon in Casselberry, Fla. A few days later, another gunman killed three women and wounded four at a Brookfield, Wis., beauty salon.

Last month, two people were killed and another critically injured when a gunman strolled into an Oregon Mall and opened fire in the food court. Today, a gunman rained fire on an elementary school in

How could this happen? Why do there seem to be so many mass murders lately?

Mass murders, in fact, are occurring more frequently in the United States, said Dr. Alan J. Lipman, a clinical psychologist at the George Washington University Medical Center and the founder of the Center for the Study of Violence.

Lipman, who has been studying mass murders for three decades, said he's noticed a snowball effect over the last decade as more mass murders are committed.

Friday’s tragedy appears to have similarities to other recent attacks, Lipman said.

As with the shooters at the Oregon mall, the Aurora movie theater and the Tucson massacre in which 18 people were shot along with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Connecticut shooter was reportedly a man in his early 20s.

“This is happening more and more with a certain kind of person,” Lipman said.

The early 20s are a key age for people vulnerable to developing psychosis. Mental illness combined with some sort of acute stress can trigger a psychotic break from reality, said Lipman. A U.S. Secret Service study of mass murders found that 90 percent of the killers had an underlying mental illness compounded by some kind of stressful event in their lives, added Lipman.

In the case of the alleged Connecticut shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, his parents were divorced, and police said he killed his mother first before heading to the school where she worked to open fire on students and administrators, Lipman said.

“Why did he shoot the kids? At that point, his life is over, and the kids become targets of his vengeance,” Lipman said. “He’s so angry, he wants to make the whole world disappear around him.”

Lipman links technology, globalization and the fast pace of life with an increase in mass murders. It’s similar to the Arab Spring, when technology and globalization sped up the pace of the revolution by enabling people to connect and act.

For potential killers, the Internet can increase the stress they are exposed to, he said. They can go online, read paranoid fantasies, learn about military regalia and read about other mass murders, said Lipman.

“These environmental stresses have a pipeline into the souls of individuals at any given moment,” Lipman said. Added to that, “you have a person who is on the edge. He is a ticking time bomb. He has a genetic disposition to be more violent, and he suddenly experiences a stressful event that triggers the break. It’s called the diathesis stress model."

It’s rarely the case that there are no signs of mental illness prior to such violence, said Lipman. These people fall through the cracks, in part, because there is a diffusion of responsibility, society’s collective unwillingness to risk the embarrassment of wrongfully butting-in when someone seems off, said Lipman.

He encourages people to get over the fear of interfering. If someone seems unusually stressed or agitated, ask them how they are doing, said Lipman. If it is a family member or friend, offer to go with them to get help. The best way to prevent such tragedies is to be attuned to signs of illness, to overcome the stigma of mental illness and intervene to get help, added Lipman.


What do you think is behind the rise in mass murders, and what can we do to prevent such tragedies?

JustUs December 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Shripathi, I refuse to even read the study unless you show me first that Mr. Wang is not a known anti-gun advocate with an agenda. I am weary of reading biased and manipulated studies. And studies coming from universities (which tend to be very liberal) are always suspect. I refuse to pollute my mind with garbage unless it's proven to me that the author does not have a dog in the race. Okay? "Nukes do not kill people, people kill people. So we prevent people from getting nukes. Same with guns." You seem to be missing something. We already do background checks and forbid the sales of guns to certain criminals and those who have been shown to be mentally imbalanced. So those laws are already in place. There is really nothing more we can do there....unless you want to start banning guns from people of various socio-economic, religious or political classes. Is that what you want to do? Your reply would be appreciated.
Shripathi Kamath December 15, 2012 at 06:02 PM
"Shripathi, I refuse to even read the study unless you show me first that Mr. Wang is not a known anti-gun advocate with an agenda." http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html Here I was giving you the benefit of the doubt that you had at least read the article (was not a study). I guess that ends this discussion
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I agree with both Mike Shrader and with Panglonymous. However, Mike's comment adhere's more to the subject matter. Obama and the anti-gun advocates will try to make hay while the sun shines to 'save the children'. And the media will do everything it can to help them. But the American public would never allow them to implement strict 'gun control' like you see in Mexico or some of the Euro nations. That barn door was opened back in 1776 and the horses all got out. They can't turn back the clock now with 310 non-military firearms in the hands of American citizens. And they know that they can't. So that frog won't get cooked, Mike. And that's what makes them angry. We must remember the origin of lenient gun laws in American. Please read your history. And Pang, yes I agree that the crooked banksters should get prosecuted and jailed. But the banksters literally own the politicians and our justice system. So that won't happen anytime soon. HSBC (one of the largest world banks) just got caught willfully laundering billions in illicit narcotic proceeds for the Mexican and S.A. international drug cartels and fined $1.9B (which is nothing since they have trillions in assets). Besides, they'll just raise their banking fees to make it back in 6 months. Not one banking official was indicted, prosecuted or jailed. That is because they own the politicians (yes, they own the democrats too!). There is your answer.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 06:23 PM
"I guess that ends this discussion" Er.....well, no. It shouldn't in a legitimate discussion. I pointed some of the recent well publicized shootings/murders in my original comment. None of those cases involved 'assault weapons'. And you have failed to give us an example or two of recent mass killings that involved an 'assault weapon'. But the recent ones (Congresswomen GIffords, Colorado theater, Oregon mall and now this one) did not involve an 'assault weapon', per sey. Only handguns or a single shot rifle. Should we control the sale of gasoline too? Gasoline can be used as a flammable by a firebug arson. Should we forbid people from buying gasoline? Well, should be, Shripathi?
Shripathi Kamath December 15, 2012 at 06:59 PM
"It shouldn't in a legitimate discussion." Ah, graduated to another one with the adjective 'legitimate': (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/poisoning-the-well.html) OK, we can start another discussion. This one where you graduate to using red herrings. (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/red-herring.html) "Should we control the sale of gasoline too?" We already do. You are required to fill gasoline in a car tank/machinery, and if you are out of gas, and have a can, the amount you can fill is controlled as well. Heck the can has specifications. In emergencies like Sandy, we even ration it. "Gasoline can be used as a flammable by a firebug arson. Should we forbid people from buying gasoline?" Yes, in bulk quantities, and we already do that. Like we regulate sale of certain fertilizers. Oh wait, I see the problem. You are confusing an article demonstrating a statistical basis for renewing the elapsed ban on assault weapons to be the same as a call for forbidding people from buying or owning guns altogether. (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html) "Well, should be, Shripathi?" As demonstrated above, it is moot, since we already do. That ends this discussion, and the next one. So have at it, you know last word an all...
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 07:37 PM
"We already do. You are required to fill gasoline in a car tank/machinery, and if you are out of gas, and have a can, the amount you can fill is controlled as well." Baloney. If a crazy pyromaniac had a 5 gallon gas container (available at any large retail store with automotive supplies) he could legally fill it up and no one would stop him. In fact, he could empty it and then go back and fill it up repeatedly. So again, I disagree with you based on the FACTS. Even 5 gallons of gasoline could cause a tremendous amount of damage. So should everyone who purchases gasoline have a background check conducted by the 7-eleven or Shell clerk before the sale is approved, Shripathi? Please continue the discussion. This is fun. And your "nizkor" links fall upon deaf ears. Let me ask you this. Are they neutral on the NRA??? Be honest. If you answer that they are neutral I will research it in an effort to prove you wrong. All we really have on these boards is our credibility. Why not in your own words cite one recent mass shooting or attempted assassination where an 'assault weapon' (by classis defintion) was used. I cited several where 'assault weapons' were not used. Now it's YOUR turn to cite them - and not by linking them. Ready....set.....GO!
Alty48 December 15, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Everyone seems to ignore the 800 pound gorilla on the couch. The problem is guns. The problem guns are semi-automatic rifles, hand guns, and large caliber weapons. Legitimate hunters have no need for such weapons. The 800 pound gorilla is the NRA. The NRA is the main lobbyist for the arms industry. The NRA has cleverly convinced hunters that they are their champions in the Congress and the 50 statehouses. So here is my solution: the federal government should subsidize bolt action deer rifles and shotguns and their ammo. The Feds subsidizes entire industries so why not legitimate hunters thereby detaching the NRA from it's grass roots? Second, the Feds should buy back all semi-automatic rifles, hand guns, and large caliber weapons at market price then outlaw their ownership. Third, and this may seem at first blush unrelated, bring back the military draft. The second amendment was put in place originally to help the newly founded United States of America quickly raise an army and at he same time give power to the people to defend themselves against their government should it become tyrannical. Bringing back the draft will also bring back the citizen soldier and it is the citizen soldier who will refuse to fight for a tyrannical government. It is not well known but the primary reason the US left Vietnam was because citizen soldiers refused to fight.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Oh, so you are anti-2nd Amendment and an enemy of our Founding Fathers, Tyrone? Do you have any idea what prompted our beloved Founding Fathers to include the 2nd Amendment into the Bill of Rights, Tyrone? There are citizen soldiers in Red China, Tyrone. How's that working out to stop tyranny and a totalitarian government? I prefer to support our Founding Fathers and refuse to be ruled by emotion. Our Founding Fathers knew best!
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 07:56 PM
And, besides. There are an estimated 310,000,000 non-military firearms in America. About as many guns as there are people. The only ones who would turn their weapons in would be the obedient ones. The criminals and those who would defy such an order would keep theirs. That would leave the obiedient ones defenseless against all the others who kept their guns. That would be smart, wouldn't it, Tyrone? And what is the government going to do with all the millions of people who refused to turn their guns over? Throw them all in jail? Do you want prisons on every street corner? Very interesting discussion. Please continue.
Alberto Barrera December 15, 2012 at 08:14 PM
While mass murders may be on the rise, I'd say that we as a society are still safer today than we were years ago.
MFriedrich December 15, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Yes. We successfully killed off the population of wolves, bears, wolverines and Native Americans. So yeah, we're a lot safer. Thanks Oliver Winchester and Eliphalet Remington! Meanwhile, we still struggle to get any safer from ourselves: http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2012/07/img/aurora_chart3.jpg
Alty48 December 15, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Poor Justhim.....never bothered to read the second amendment.....never bothered to read the history of the first congress and how Madison introduced what would become the second amendment many times with many re-writes until it was passed. Poor Justhim never read about the debates surrounding the writing of the second amendment....poor Justhim....he never read the seven Supreme Court rulings concerning the second amendment over the last two centuries....poor Justhim...knows nothing about the history of the US military.....poor Justhim.....
MFriedrich December 15, 2012 at 08:31 PM
As many insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have quickly discovered, an AK-47, SAMs, or an AR-15 is no match for an A-10 or an Apache helicopter gunship. I'm a gun owner myself and not anti-2nd amendment. But even I recognize that the founding fathers could not possibly have envisioned a US federal government dedicating 40+% of it's budget to national defense, 4 massive armies (army, navy, AF and marines) and armaments. Nor could they envision flight, automatic weapons, radar, laser guided missiles, etc. The idea of a militia is largely symbolic and patriotic, so okay. But even if the fateful day came for revolution and overthrow, seeing what happened to those insurgents in Fallujah....not a glorious end.
Norton December 15, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Right on JustUs.....Canada has more guns per capita than the US but a whopping 80% less gun violence! Go figure. Its simply a breakdown in family values and culture. US capitalism has created a black hole sucking the weak and the meek closer to revolution. We are not without our history, as short as it's been, nor without repeating itself.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 09:59 PM
The Bill of Rights was not created to be destroyed over 200 years later, Tyrone. Those are INALIENABLE rights, my friend. When you get the time look up the definition of INALIENABLE. It means granted by a power higher than man. And if man did not grant those INALIENABLE rights, he cannot take them away. Get it yet??? It all has to do with WORDS and WORDS mean things, Tyrone! Secondly, you did not address part 2 of my question. You wanted a citizen army and said that it would protect us from a tyrannical government. Yet, I pointed out that Red China has a citizen army and look at their government. One of the most draconan and tyrannical governments on the face of the planet where people have virtually no rights. And again, how exactly do you get rid of 310,000,000 civililan firearms, Tyrone? And when asked to give them up - who will comply??? The criminals? Of course not. Criminals don't obey the laws. Only the obedient ones would comply putting them at a HUGE INCREASED RISK OF LIFE AND PROPERTY. Like declawing a cat and throwing it in the alleyway to play with alley cats. Do I need to spell it out to you letter by letter, Tyrone?? Your proposal will not work. It will fail. And I just told you why!
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Yes, I agree with you, mfriedrich. War is a way to promote bubble economies. And the defense industry (like the bankers) own a huge piece of Washington DC. Both industries combined (along with the medical [ie. pharmaceuticals] industry) own Washington DC and the politicians LOCK, STOCK AND BARREL! We need to create enemies even if they don't exist to keep the bubble economy alive! But sooner or later bubbles go POP! So it is a lose-lose proposition looking down the road. All of us lose. Either we destroy each other with thermonuclear explosions or we destroy each other economically. That's where we stand today in the modern military industrial complex.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Norton, I am very PROUD of you, sir. You are one of the few who GET IT!!! You are not a bait swallower! You are a THINKING ADULT and a rare breed these days! God bless you and your family over the holiday season and beyond!
Alty48 December 15, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I also own a hand gun which I inherited but I have never shot. As a kid I had a .22 pistol and a .22 rifle. Later I owned a 9mm M80 semi-automatic rifle (private manufacturer) and a 12 gauge and 410 gauge shot gun. Regrading the Second Amendment, turning it back as it has been interpreted since the late 19th century would be difficult. However, reading the second amendment and using the conservative judicial theory of original intent I believe could outlaw all privately held hand guns, semi automatic rifles, and large caliber weapons. Those weapons would be locked up in community arsenals accessed only by local militias and only in times of national emergencies. That is what the second amendment says. And according to Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution Congress is allowed to do the following: 1) Provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; 2) Provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Tyrone, what you want is a police state. Why not just say it? That's exactly what you are describing. A police state. Sorry, buddy. I want no part of your ideal society. I would leave the country if your dream society ever materializes. America is supposed to engender FREEDOM, not a bunch of bootlicking citizens who are at the mercy of those in authority. You're comments frighten me. You are decribing Red China. But you probably don't even realize it.
Alty48 December 15, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Poor Justhim.....he really likes to compare apples to oranges confusing logic and reason with sophistry......poor Justhim he sees the universe as some kind of static thing never changing, never developing, never evolving....poor Justhim shouts "inalienable" out to gods above never understanding those inalienable rights have been abridged in the United States by the USA patriot Act .....poor Justhim has never been to China, has never read Chinese history, has never been alive long enough to understand the the history of the world since WWII....Poor Justhim loves to school rather than listen and learn and imagine.......... Poor Justhim must luxuriates in the presence of Ron Paul........Poor poor pseudo-intellectual Justhim
Whiskey Bent December 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Tyrone, doesn't look like you read any of those documents.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM
No, Tyrone. I am speaking from a base of reality and truth. You are living in some sort of fantasy world where you want to recreate the design of this nation and what made us a world power in every way. You want to eliminate America being a beacon of freedom and transform us into a totalitarian dictatorship where the little people are scared of their own shadows. Your writings make you appear to be about as unamerican as they get. If you know so much about China I urge you to go live there and find out for yourself how the Red Chinese run their government and control their people. It's been my pleasure to school you, Tyrone. I only hoped you learned something during our discussion.
Alty48 December 15, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Poor Justhim.....drives around with his "America Love It Or Leave It" bumper sticker attached to his Vespa.
JustUs December 15, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I know that China has a "People's Army" comprised of normal civilians who live in normal neighborhoods. This is used as a form of control over the commoners. That is what the "militias" that you propose evolve into. So you have no clue of what you speak. That's why I said you should go live in China to learn about how that communist government operates. Obviously, someone misled you and you bought it. But I vigorously oppose your proposal to bring methods used by totalitarian governments that enslave their people over here. And I want others to know the truth.
Alty48 December 16, 2012 at 12:22 AM
@ Justhim...did you ever bother to read the Second Amendment or the Constitution?...Did you read any of my post?......Do you really believe China is a communist state?.....Do you know who Deng Xiaoping is?.....Do you know what the Chongqing Model is?.....do you know anything? I do know you're young and impetuous and you are too quick to judge because you are too certain about what you believe. You have no idea what it is to be doubtful or skeptical and that will ill serve you in the future as it already does in the present.
JustUs December 16, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Poor Tyrone. Doesn't realize that all laws have many drafts before they are finally approved. Poor Tyrone. Doesn't realize that guns are as ingrained into the american culture as apple pie or the TeeVee set. Tyrone might as well call for a ban of apple pie or the TeeVee set. The outcome would be the same. Poor Tyrone. He has probably never read the gist of the 2nd Amendment. Here, I will post it for his convenience: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Tyrone, note that it says: "SHALL not be infringed." not "MAY not be infringed." SHALL means cannot be rescinded under any circumstances since they are INALIENABLE right - not man made. There, I hope you learned something. If you need another lesson let me know.
Joe Hall December 16, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Hey everyone take a moment here. Maybe I'm the crazy one for thinking this but: Since guns and crazies have been around for some time why not look what has changed instead of repeating what we are told to repeat from the media. FIRST: As we have seen repeatedly the police are useless and ill trained. Look at Columbine and the shooting afterwards you will see the police hiding behind trees and doing nothing. They do nothing until everything is over. Second: Although they are not entirely at fault the media presents these tragedies mostly as a celebration and blatantly advertise it and promote it a al special anniversary shows. This not only gives the potential crazy advice on how to get world attention but show him what to do. THIRD: Much much more attention needs to be brought upon the drug industry and seriously look at the side effects of anti-depressants. We have already seen these drugs in action for our military and we had our own soldiers killing each other because of the drug. YET the drug has NOT been pulled is still used and not one law suit was allowed to happen. Keep in mind that if the shooter only had a revolver it still would have been a tragedy granted with less dead....... maybe so gun control is not really the answer. I don't pretend to have answers I just think we are being prevented again from asking the right questions.
JustUs December 16, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Joe Hall, Thanks for your comment. Let me respond item by item: (1) Yes, the cops have shown to be pretty much worthless at these shootings. They show up after all the damage has already been done. Columbine, V-Tech and now this one. I heard it took the cops about an hour to actually enter the CT school when their station was only a 30 minute walk away from the school. (2) The media is only there to push the government's agenda and to sell advertising. This was obvious during the presidential elections and it's obvious during these tragedies. Now the media will start promoting the abolishment of the 2nd Amendment. Watch. (3) Joe, I disagree with you here. Anti-depressants help millions of people function. And they help to reduce the anger factor in many people. So SSRI's have deleterious side effects? All drugs do. But for a very low percent of those who take them. How many of these shootings would there be without psychotropic medications, Joe. That is the question you should ask. (4) And the shooter did not have an automatic 'assault weapon' type rifle. As much damage could be caused with a 9mm handgun as the rifle. Rifles are only more effective at long, long distances. All these shootings were said to be at close range. Clips for a 9mm can hold a lot of rounds, Joe.
Alty48 December 16, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Again we get another example of Justhim spreading nonsense and blowing smoke....it was a semi-automatic assault type rifle firing .227 rounds designed to blow up on contact with living tissue.....the news media does criticize the government...it is not liberally bias as implied by Justhim and it will not advocate dumping the second amendment...some media will advocate controls be placed on certain weapons.....and then we get Justhim asking Mr. Hall to ask a really dumb question: ..."how many shootings would there be without psychotropic medications"? Not only is that question stupid, it is impossible to test. Hey Justhim, how many angels could dance on a pin if the pin head were a micron larger?
Lisa Wood Russo December 21, 2012 at 05:59 PM
"mental illness trumps education" JustUs, I Absolutely agree! Add this, you have a child who begins displaying issues very young, as parents you find out he/she has Autism or Aspergers and you treat him/her, love & care for them as best you can, then he/she turns 18. They are now a legal adult and regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible. They sneak out of the house and the parent has no rights to detain them. They are now the publics problem, police and taxpayers problem. They are 20 year old boys who like to play video games of the more violent nature, their mental state results in having no social skills, no empathy, and stressfull situations aren't dealt with correctly. And whola, there in lies the problem. In my household guns are locked away in a gun safe, children present or not.


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