Early Warning Signs of Mass Shooting Events
So far throughout 2020, U.S. news headlines have been dominated by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. However, to date in the United States, there have also been 339 mass shooting events this year. Cumulatively, these have resulted in 1,437 people being wounded and 297 people being killed.
Thankfully, recent research from Worcester State University, suggests that detecting early warning signs of mass shooting events is possible.
What Warning Signs of a Mass Shooting are There?
It might seem like an idea lifted right out a scene from the movie Minority Report. However, according to assistant professor of criminal justice James Silver at Worcester State University, early warning signs of mass shootings are both detectable and quantifiable.
One of the most shocking takeaways from Silver’s research is that often, there aren’t just early warning signs of mass shooting events. As Silver himself says, “It’s really quite amazing how often people will tell others around them what they’re going to do.”
That’s right. In interviews with mass shooting survivors and shooting perpetrators, James Silver found that most shooters inform others of their intentions, before them committing crimes.
Other Commonalities Between Perpetrators of Mass Shootings
As well as informing others of their intentions ahead of time, mass shooters often share several distinct physical and psychological characteristics.
- Mass shooting perpetrators are overwhelmingly single males.
- Shooters themselves often have a long-running grievance with someone or some institution that they feel oppressed by.
- At least 25% of mass shooters are later found to have a pre-diagnosed mental illness.
- Contrary to popular belief, most mass shooters are not people who would previously have been prohibited from buying firearms.
Research released by the FBI in 2018, also shows that most mass shooters (77%) spend just a week planning shootings.
Is it Possible to Prevent Mass Shootings by Profiling Perpetrators?
According to both James Silver and the FBI, approximately 50% of mass shooters will show signs of ‘leakage’ in the week preceding shooting events.
‘Leakage’ is the term the FBI uses to describe how some mass shooters will vocalize their intentions openly as threats or warnings to others, before actually committing atrocities. Moreover, what this means in simple terms, is that if someone openly announces their intentions, such threats should always be taken seriously.
In 75% of Cases, People Do Notice Mass Shooting Early Warning Signs
One of the most frustrating things about mass shooting events concerns the fact that after attacks, survivors often admit to noticing early warning signs themselves in the days ahead of shootings taking place.
Sadly, despite many common characteristics being shared by mass shooters, few people who spot early warning signs ever report these. Make no mistake, though, reporting suspicions ahead of time could save real lives.
What Happens if I Report a Potential Mass Shooter?
Do you have reason to suspect that someone you know might be planning a mass shooting event? If so, you mustn’t hesitate to report them accordingly.
As noted by James Silver, reporting suspicions does not make shooting events or more likely. Neither does reporting suspicions result in the wrongful incarceration of potential shooters.
At present, thousands of potential shooting perpetrators are reported to authorities in Virginia each year. Most of the people in question are also school age. However, to date, the vast majority continue their studies and go on to graduate without any problem.
Intervention Can Prove to be Effective for Preventing Mass Shootings
At present, we can’t know for certain how many people reported in Virginia each year would have committed crimes otherwise. However, high rates of graduation among those being reported would suggest that reporting potential shooters is an effective way to prevent mass shootings.
Have you recently noticed something a little off about someone you know? If so, don’t take any chances. File an anonymous police report and rest assured that if you are wrong, no real harm will come to anyone either way.
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