Mass Murder Term Paper Samples
Mass murder, in military contexts, is sometimes also described as mass destruction. It can be defined as the act of killing many people, usually simultaneously or over a short time span. The general consensus is that for a crime to qualify as mass murder, four or more victims must be involved. These murders must also take place in one event, and at the same location. This should not be confused with a serial murder, where the killer has a “cooling-off” period in between the murders (Ferguson, 2011). A mass murder can have one or more perpetrators. Many acts of mass murder end with the murderer(s) committing suicide after the murder, or creating a situation whereby the police have to kill him, that is, suicide by cop. Mass murderers more often than not have some characteristics in common, like extreme anger, predatory aggression, paranoid delusion, and depression. They also fit a very particular profile. Most mass murderers are usually male, middle-aged and either single or divorced. It can be argued that these characteristics predispose them to that behavior. Mass murder has in the past been misidentified as a unique case of homicide. Other scholars have also viewed it as tending more towards psychopathology, hence better analyzed in the realm of psychiatry. In addition, the rarity of such occurrences has seen this field not deemed particularly research-worthy. The lack of primary data due to the legal inaccessibility of mass murderers, their unwillingness or inability to cooperate or the issue of them being dead, has also limited research. Due to this limited research into the field, many myths have been perpetrated about the nature of the crime and those who commit it. This paper will look at the various aspects of mass murder, its classifications and drivers and its impact on US culture and society. It will also look into the various policies that are employed in dealing with this deviance and how and whether attitudes have changed. It will also offer projections on the future treatment of this deviance within the next decade or two.
Mass murderers have been classified into various categories and classes. Classic mass murderers are often mentally deranged people, operating at one time and one location, whose mental problems cause them to act out against people with whom they have no relationship. Family annihilators murder family members and later take their own lives or force police to kill them. They are usually alcoholics and may also suffer from depression or paranoia. Pseudocommandos plan their murders for a long time. They have no escape plan and are gun enthusiasts who open fire indiscriminately in public areas. Their actions are not impulsive and are meticulously planned down to the final details (Knoll, 2010). Set and run killers, on the other hand, prepare the stage and then escape. Their weapons of choice are usually bombs or mass poisonings, for example, the Tylenol poisoner. Disciples are another type of mass murderers. These types of killers normally act on the undue influence of their leaders, inspired by the leader’s charisma. Disgruntled employees normally kill in retaliation for some perceived bad treatment by their employer.
Mass murderers can also be classified by their motivation. This gives rise to classes such as those motivated by vengeance where the killers feel they have been wronged and hence seek retribution. A case in point is that of the killings in a San Francisco law office by Gian Luigi Ferri, a 55-year-old businessman. These were borne of anger at the legal system, and resentment that his businesses had failed. Such murders can be directed at specific individuals-individual specific- or may also be directed at groups that is category specific or also be aimed at nobody in particular. Here, the perpetrator’s paranoia is the driving force. Another classification here can be driven by a warped sense of love, for example, John List, a respected accountant and a very religious man. He killed his family since he felt that he could not keep them happy. Another category can be those Motivated by profit that are felony murders done solely for monetary purposes. Another example can be murders committed in a robbery. Also under this classification are politically motivated murders. For instance, here, we can have Suicide bombers or attacks such as the 9/11. However, most experts tend to put these under terrorism since they carry a political statement. Gang-motivated mass murder is another category, and here we have gang war murders. The offenders are usually many in number. A prime example is the infamous Chicago, Illinois Valentine day Massacre of February 14, 1929. Seven people, including five belonging to the Bugs Moran gang, were killed by Al Capone’s gang men.
Whereas research on mass killings is nowhere near conclusive, it does allow preliminary conclusions to be drawn on the psychological impacts of mass killings on the survivors, witnesses and the community at large. Studies into various survivor groups of mass shootings have shown that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most prevalent resultant psychiatric disorder. This in turn affects school performance in school-age children. A comparison study between the trauma group of mass killing survivors and a contrast group clearly points out that the trauma group outscores the contrast group on psychological symptoms like intrusion, depression, avoidance, and anxiety among others. Symptoms lessen as time passes, but the effect sizes continue to be quite large (Norris, 2007).
Analysis of vulnerability factors for example gender and recovery factors like individual counseling received is also crucial. There are often severe psychological consequences associated with witnessing or experiencing mass killings. High incidences of PTSD and sub threshold PTSD are reported. Thus, psychosocial help is necessary for primary victims. The community has also been seen to resent the media attention that results from such event. This is because the community views the attention as an attempt to blame them for the killings. The people who are affected most are those who have relatives and friends involved in the killings.
Dealing with a problem as grave as mass murder has necessitated the implementation of various policies. These policies have been both new ones, and a tightening of the existing ones. Such policies and strategies have been developed in consultation with various stakeholders. These strategies and policies continue to take root all across the United States. The counter responses range from police action to mental health programs and school-based responses. All are geared towards reducing these incidences and eliminating them if possible.
The first of these is stronger gun controls. Mass murders have come to be seen, though erroneously, as mainly being a gun problem. This is because guns are perceived as being the deadliest means of mass murder as opposed to say, knives. In addition, the prevalence of gun use is much higher among mass murderers than among single victim killings. Thus, gun control proponents have seized on this information to push for stricter implementation of gun laws and specifically the limiting of sales of assault weapons. This culminated in the 1994 passing of the federal assault weapons ban by Congress. In addition, the state of California criminalized the sale and possession of assault weapons through the Roos-Roberti Weapon Control Act, which was a direct consequence of the Stockton massacre. Another example is the ban on the importation of foreign-made assault weapons by the Bush Administration (Mayors against Illegal Guns. Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings. 2013)
.The 1986 murder of 14 people at a post office by Patrick Sherrill brought into focus workplace violence and drew the attention of Congress and various government agencies. Subsequent workplace mass murders only served to heighten the concern. Federal agencies such as the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted research on workplace violence. Their findings and the increased prevalence of these cases led to violence prevention measures being put in place in the workplace.
Recently, mass murders have started to become a school violence problem. This can be evidenced by the increasing number of cases of school-based violence that are being reported. Such incidences include the 1999 Columbine massacre in Colorado, the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 among others. The sharp focus on these killings has fanned a raging debate on the impact of the media, particularly violent video games, on the young people. Some scholars have attempted to draw parallels between the increased exposure to these violent games and the predisposition to violence. Many schools have now implemented zero tolerance policies towards activities such as bullying and possession of illegal substances and firearms (Lassiter, 2009).
The other measure is the creation of emergency response plans. As a result of the increased incidence of these attacks and mass occurrences, there has been increased focus on creation of ERP’s that normally contain names, positions and contacts of people who should be notified in case of large-scale emergencies. These plans also give guidelines for action to be taken in case of such eventualities. These plans are particularly useful in schools.
The establishment of threat assessment units is the other stratgey. These multi-disciplinary teams receive and assess any reports of potential threats. These teams then give suggestions as to the best way to proceed with these threats. They are a preventative measure, designed to identify potential situations and address them before they escalate into actual incidences. The teams consist of various professionals such as police, mental health experts, and community members.
Educating people about identifying and responding to symptoms of mental illness and other potential threats is another key strategy. The best defense against violence is to prevent it from taking place in the first place. Teaching people to identify the behavior of at-risk persons is important. This is because it ensures that help for these individuals can be obtained before the situation escalates into something deadly.
Police Departments should also be trained in active shooter response tactics. It is crucial to train police in these skills since it has been established that initial response is often the difference between managing a situation and its development into a calamity. Campus police departments should be encouraged to have in place an active shooter plan and a dedicated police command facility. Active shooter drills involving students should also be conducted at regular intervals. Training in first aid and emergency response should also be extended to officers.
Over time, attitude changes towards violence and mass murder have been observed. This has become particularly more pronounced in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. These attacks led to increased positive attitude towards war. An increasingly positive attitude towards violence on criminals has also been observed. This can be attributed to the fact that these attacks were viewed by many as criminal acts, and also as an act of war towards the USA.
In the future, as new research into mass killings continues to be done, there is an expectation that changes will continue to be seen. These changes are likely to both in form of responses, as well as attitudes. This may include changes such as conduction of vulnerability assessments. These are tests aimed at identifying gaps or weaknesses in the system. These gaps leave one exposed to the likelihood of occurrence of incidences. The assessment should be done for areas such as physical security, electronic security, human security and security policies and procedures.
Another future aspect is the establishment of behavioral health response teams. These are teams that will be mostly in schools. They will be available physically on campus or through contract. Such teams should assist people after exposure to traumatic events. The teams should be conversant with their environment of operation so they can offer relevant advice.
There will also be an increased focus towards victim services and aftermath issues. It has been established that individuals who have been exposed to traumatic events are likely to be at a greater risk of engaging in mass murder. Emergency medical services should be on hand to provide counseling services. These teams should be adequately trained and in case of school situations; there should be links with external resource providers. This is because teams may be overwhelmed in case of mass casualties.
There will be an increased focus on training in the managing of difficult situations. Staff at institutions, as well as police officers, should now be trained in conflict resolution. This is important to ensure that they are able to diffuse rather than escalate situations. Handling of interpersonal situations is a skill that many public officers lack yet it is a very crucial skill. Thus, in the future such efforts will continue to be emphasized as the paradigm shift from a confrontational approach to a conflict resolution centered approach becomes more pronounced.
In conclusion, though gun control, improved security measures are somehow limited in their ability to curb mass murder, this is no excuse, not to try. Gun restrictions among other measures may not prevent the next mass murder, but it may be a deterrent measure that can safeguard the livelihood of millions of Americans. Besides, some action is better than no action at all. Even the slightest reduction is also a goal worth pursuing. Completely eliminating the likelihood of mass murder would require drastic measures that the relevant authorities are either unable or unwilling to take. Mass murder may be the consequence the public may have to face for valuing personal freedom too much above its own security interests.
Ferguson, C. J. (2011). Psychological profiles of school shooters:Positive directions and one big wrong turn. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations , 11.
Knoll, J. L. (2010). The “pseudocommando” mass murderer: Part I, the psychology of revenge and obliteration. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online , 38, 87-94.
Lassiter, W. L. (2009). Preventing violence and crime in America’s schools: From put-downs to lock-downs. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings. (2013). Retrieved February 2015, from Amazon Web Services: http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/9/56/4/1242/1/analysis-of-recent-mass-shootings.pdf
Norris, F. (2007). Impact of mass shootings on survivors,families and communities. PTSD Research Quarterly , 18 (3), 1-7.