Random Mass Murder

This is a preliminary abstract from the study as of November 2016. It will be updated as the study progresses and the full study will be published on-line when it is complete. Comments are solicited.


The objective of this study is to form an understanding of the current problem of irrational or random mass murders in the US, what is being done about it and what can/should be done about it. This is primarily an exercise to determine whether such a thing is possible and how difficult it might be.

2      Scope

This study includes violence in general at the U.S. policy level. I accept violence as part of human nature but there needs to be some statement of our intent as a society to curb it or channel it. The study does include international strategies but only at the policy level.

Initially this study is focused on events within the United States perpetrated by its residents against its residents for no immediately apparent reason. This study will primarily consider events that involve multiple murders but can include events which merely have the potential for multiple murders (attempted). It will not include individual murders with clear motives. It will not include the actions of members of sub-cultural groups who may be motivated by perceived grievances (no matter how irrational the perception) unless the relationship of the member to the group is tenuous.

It will not include suicides. It will define the issue as clearly as possible and my current position in regard to proposed policy, actions or solutions.  It will remain an open study as long as the issue persists. I will attempt to list short term and long term public policy solutions.

A separate study has been set up to cover a broader aspect of gun violence which has currently reached a critical point – that of Gang Violence involving guns,

3      Background

Over the past 20 – 30 years there have been a series of mass killings (40+) which because of their brutal, random, senseless and unpredictable nature have garnered a good deal of publicity and caused a commensurate level of concern among the general public. In recent years it included a theatre killing in Colorado, the massacre of 20 children and 6 teachers in Newtown CT. and a few campus shootings such as the one in Oregon etc.

I am having difficulty finding the proper terminology to frame the issue as I see it. It should include at least some acts of terrorism such as those committed by Americans against Americans within the US (Timothy McVey), It should include random violence which could result in serious injury or death. It should not include crimes that are obviously explained like suicide, or murder/mayhem directed toward specific individuals or even specific groups who may have harmed the perpetrators in some direct way either real or imagined. This study should not include the acts of any large political or religious group who might have an obvious motive (no matter how irrational the motive itself might be) but it can include the acts of individuals within those groups, particularly if the connection to the group is tenuous.

4      Analysis To Date

The following Diagram describes the process of random mass killing in terms of its inputs or causal factors and its outputs or resultant factors with a feedback loop shown as a dashed line.

This is just the initial attempt to define the process. I need to more clearly identify/classify the perpetrators, the cultural influences that drive them, the manufacturers of the weapons and what drives them and how they drive the culture etc.

Chain Diagram - Issue 1 - Mass Murder


5      Conclusions To Date

The problem is basically a mismatch in our cultural evolution. Our Technology (specifically weaponry) has gotten way out in front of our Social capabilities (specifically legislative and legal). We need to balance the two. Since this is an evolutionary process it won’t or possibly can’t take place overnight. We need to make whatever changes (variations) we can on a short term basis and lay out a more effective set of variations that can be selected on a longer term basis,

5.1     Short Term variations that are being tried:

We need to counter the effect of such acts and the related publicity with re-assuring action. The Obama Administration attempted to pass a few laws that would restrict the easy availability of powerful weapons. They were not approved by Congress so the President did what he could by issuing a series of executive orders. They do not solve the problem. However, I’m in favor of anything that will or might be re-assuring even on a temporary basis

One area that has not been addressed is gun owner responsibility. Using motor vehicles as a template, it would seem that we might be able to limit the mayhem by establishing clear financial liability of gun owners for damage caused by their guns and possible criminal prosecution for negligence.


5.2     Long Term variations that need to be initiated:

We need to restate the Second Amendment to the Constitution. This will take years and many political battles but it is necessary. The right to own guns should not be abridged any more than the right to own a motor vehicle. However the associated responsibilities must be spelled out and regulation must be mandated. The current reference to a well regulated militia must be changed to specify the National Guard as THE Militia.

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