If all a gunman, who opened fire and randomly killed nine people, wanted was 15 minutes of fame, he could have achieved this running naked into the field at a major league baseball game.
At least one criminologist believes that the driving force behind mass shootings is a desire for celebrity status. According to Adam Lankford, a criminologist at the University of Alabama, they want to be famous.
But this theory has holes. You don’t have to kill people to be famous, and since when are murderers treated like celebrities? Since when does celebrity treatment include prison food?
If it all came down to wanting to be famous, then why do these mass murderers always have troubled pasts, particularly a history of being victimized by bullying?
However, many criminologists do believe that most shooters are seeking infamy – even though, certainly, anyone who’s planning a shooting spree knows there’s a good chance they’ll get killed in the process – in which case, they won’t be alive to revel in their infamy.
In an attempt to prevent future mass shootings, the media has decided not to mention the killers’ names more than once, such as with the 2012 movie theatre slaughter in Colorado and the 2017 Las Vegas concert massacre.
This tactic has proved futile, given the shootings that occurred the first week of August 2019 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, plus many additional (smaller) shootings since 2012 and even 2017.
Nevertheless, supposedly the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter kept a journal detailing decades of mass shooting events.
If a man has suffered a corrupt childhood and is seething with hatred towards people, feels no hope for his future and knows how to get an AK-47, or AR-15, do you really think that he cares whether or not his name is mentioned after a killing spree?
Sure, he’d like to gain a lot of notoriety – as long as he’s going to commit the deed. But notoriety isn’t the reason he wants to kill people.
Are killers born or made via childhood environment?
These killers may have come from “privileged backgrounds,” but a big house, a swimming pool in its backyard and tennis lessons can still be part of a childhood environment that’s conducive to creating a soulless, evil person who hates humans so much that he one day decides to shoot into a crowd.
We can argue till the cows come home whether or not years of bullying led to the Columbine massacre, or if while growing up El Paso murderer Patrick Crusius frequently heard his father rant that Mexicans didn’t deserve to live.
But at the end of the day, it really makes no sense that wanting to hear your name on CNN would make a well-adjusted man go on a homicidal rampage.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.