Surveillance footage from Parkland, Florida, school shooting

Surveillance footage from Parkland, Florida, school shooting

Guns. Bullying. Mental illness. Psychiatric medications. Violent videogames. Fatherlessness. The desire for fame.

Many reasons are invoked to explain why more and more frequently in today’s America, young men – and occasionally women – are turning into mass murderers.

Yet the highly politicized debate over core causes and prevention strategies generates far more heat than light. Liberals blame guns, the National Rifle Association and Republicans, while conservatives blame fatherlessness, godlessness and gun-free zones. But just as with most other life-and-death issues plaguing today’s painfully divided America, true consensus as to causes and cures – which could then become genuine policy solutions – always seems out of reach.

Let’s look at the problem from a somewhat different vantage point than usual, one that casts the growing incidence of mass-shootings in terms of “contagion.”

In a 2015 peer-reviewed study titled “Contagion in Mass Killings and School Shootings,” published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, researchers concluded that many mass shootings are triggered by other similar attacks, especially very recent ones:

We find significant evidence that mass killings involving firearms are incented by similar events in the immediate past. On average, this temporary increase in probability lasts 13 days … We also find significant evidence of contagion in school shootings, for which an incident is contagious for an average of 13 days … On average, mass killings involving firearms occur approximately every two weeks in the U.S., while school shootings occur on average monthly.

Indeed, as WND reported, during a one-week window after the Parkland mass-shooting, police across America stopped dozens of threatened copycat school shootings before they happened.

“The copycat phenomenon is real,” confirmed Andre Simons of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in 2014. “As more and more notable and tragic events occur, we think we’re seeing more compromised, marginalized individuals who are seeking inspiration from those past attacks.”

The reality of copycat crimes, of course, is not new. Examples abound throughout history, from Jack the Ripper imitators to the 1980’s “Tylenol murders” that initially resulted in seven deaths, but were followed by hundreds of copycat incidents.

Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza was enthralled with mass murderers, researching multiple-fatality shootings going back to 1891, and maintained a wall of infamous shooters.

Likewise, jihad – the Islamic variety of mass-murder madness – has proven so susceptible to the copycat phenomenon that imitation may be the single most important factor involved, especially since jihad cheerleaders and recruiters encourage precisely that.

Get David Kupelian’s latest blockbuster, “The Snapping of the American Mind: Healing a Nation Broken by a Lawless Government and Godless Culture.” Also available in e-book, audiobook and autographed versions.

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Thus, after the November 2015 coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130, including 89 at the Bataclan Theater, concern over copycats prompted the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to send an urgent overnight bulletin to 18,000 local law enforcement agencies across America warning them to “be on the lookout for suspicious people conducting surveillance on soft targets in the United States.” Lone-wolf or self-radicalized terrorists, the feds warned, “could seek to replicate the effects of the Paris attacks.”

The FBI’s fears were well-founded. A few months later, in July 2016, Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel killed 86 people and wounded at least 430 others by driving a 19-ton truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice. After ISIS claimed responsibility and praised the mass murderer as a “soldier of the Islamic State,” a wave of copycat vehicular attacks followed around the world – including major incidents in Vienna, Berlin, London, Antwerp, Stockholm, Paris, Barcelona and Edmonton, as well as a driving-stabbing attack in the U.S. at Ohio State University.

Another hotly debated factor in mass shootings is the influence of ultra-violent video games, which have been known to inspire, motivate and even train very troubled people to replicate the atrocities depicted in the video game.

Indeed, after February’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump said he’s “hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” In March, Trump met with video game industry executives, as well as critics, at the White House for a discussion on school safety.

After the December 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre held a press conference where he condemned ultra-violent video games, specifically mentioning by name “Mortal Kombat” and “Kindergarten Killers.” Trump himself, just three days after Sandy Hook, tweeted, “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped – it is creating monsters!”

While video game industry execs and their lawyers cite studies purportedly showing no proven link between playing them and increased aggression, desensitization and violence, history and common sense say otherwise. Indeed, despite the Supreme Court’s landmark 2011 case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, decided in favor of the video game industry, any objective person going on YouTube and watching even a short clip of “Mortal Kombat,” “Kindergarten Killers” or other even-more-violent videogames now in wide use will find the experience not just shocking, but violating. It is impossible to seriously argue that repeated exposure – not to mention enthusiastic participation for hours at a time – doesn’t desensitize the viewer to the most gruesome and barbaric carnage, and in some cases fuel an appetite for more. This is precisely how hard-core pornography is known to affect the human mind.

The Sandy Hook mass shooter offered a real-life example, albeit an extreme one:

“Adam Lanza had notched up more than 83,000 ‘kills’ on his beloved video games including 22,000 ‘head shots’ as he trained himself for the horrific Sandy Hook massacre,” reveals the investigative book, “Newtown: An American Tragedy” by Matthes Lysiak, according to a Daily Mail report:

While other players of his favorite game “Combat Arms” sought out codes to cheat the system, Lanza managed to get 83,496 kills, and 22,725 head shots all with a “clean” record – without shortcuts. He was in training, and his Combat Arms profile showed he played 4,901 matches over more than 500 hours to hone his skills.

Around this time, in 2009, Lanza also became fixated with researching mass killers, and spent hours poring over their Wikipedia entries, updating some.

How did we get here? How have we come to this day when lost, rage-filled young men fill every waking hour with violent fantasies of murder, until the accumulated anger explodes into an orgy of unthinkable violence and carnage? In “The Snapping of the American Mind,” after surveying the pathology, depravity, suicide, addiction and other nihilistic behavior so widespread in post-Christian America, I ask readers a few pointed questions about what might be causing so many young people to lose their hope, happiness and reverence for life:

Do you think telling children, in a multitude of ways as today’s culture and education system consistently do, that God does not exist has no effect on their mental health and happiness?

Do you think the legalization of marijuana in state after state, creating a celebratory atmosphere around pot and other drugs, doesn’t contribute to drug dependency, not to mention growing psychosis …?

Do you think aborting almost 60 million American children in the four-plus decades since the Supreme Court legalized it in 1973 – and the not-subtle message this sanitized slaughter sends throughout society about the lack of sacredness of human life – has no effect on people’s mental health? …

Do you think, in the Internet age, that ubiquitous graphic images and videos of intimate body parts and hard-core sex – images that intrude and are indelibly burned into the minds and souls of tens of millions of young and old alike – does not awaken and feed a very dark nature, and exacerbate all manner of personal, relational, marital and mental health problems?

I continue in this vein, citing various factors that have contributed to the loss of our nation’s former civility, morality and optimism, replaced by a coarse and obscene culture, hysterical politics and the disparagement of Christianity and biblical morality.

And yet, one factor towers above even all of these: the breakdown and disintegration of the nuclear family and the epidemic of fatherlessness in America.

Various recently published analyses of the family backgrounds of the young men who have become mass shooters in the last few decades reveal that most came from fractured families and were without the influence of a father in their lives.

Think about this: If a young boy growing up is meant to be a copycat of anyone or anything, it should be “copying” the behavior of a good father.

Lacking that, he will often seek and find a father figure elsewhere – and fueled by the rage that fills his emptiness and lack of identity, that “father” substitute he ends up with may be highly toxic. The pathology of gangs is well known, with fatherless boys attracted to a gang “family” headed by a father-figure gang leader, typically the most ruthless and violent criminal of all. (Islamic jihad groups like ISIS simply comprise the biggest, “baddest” gang on the planet.)

Alternatively, as we have learned, he may become a loner and live in an inner world of hate and violent fantasy, nursing dreams of murder and revenge, perhaps fed by violent video games, inspired by “famous” shooters of the past, his conscience disabled by psychotropic medications.

If you are interested in exploring this topic further, I strongly recommend the current issue of Whistleblower magazine, titled “WHY KIDS BECOME KILLERS: Confronting and reversing the moral disintegration of America.” The entire issue is dedicated to putting together all the pieces of this vexing but all-important puzzle, so that we can finally see the big picture clearly – and then hopefully take the necessary steps toward stopping the contagion.

NOTE: In addition to the regular print edition, Whistleblower is also available in a state-of-the-art digital format. If you prefer, you may order a single copy of “WHY KIDS BECOME KILLERS: Confronting and reversing the moral disintegration of America.” Or get the digital version of that issue here!

Get David Kupelian’s latest blockbuster, “The Snapping of the American Mind: Healing a Nation Broken by a Lawless Government and Godless Culture.” Also available in e-book, audiobook and autographed versions.

Follow David Kupelian on Facebook.

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