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Why science still can’t pinpoint a mass shooter in the making

A dearth of research means the science of rampage shootings simply doesn’t exist

By
11:46am, March 23, 2018
Parkland shooting

FLEEING TRAGEDY  Students run with their hands up following a February 14, 2018, shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Researchers know little about what turns certain individuals into mass killers or whether particular policies, including gun restrictions, prevent rampage shootings.

Immediately after a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, people leaped to explain what had caused the latest mass slaughter.

By now, it’s a familiar drill: Too many readily available guns. Too much untreated mental illness. Too much warped masculinity. Don’t forget those shoot-’em-up video games and movies. Add (or repeat, with voice raised) your own favorite here.

Now the national debate has received an invigorated dose of activism. Inspired by students from the targeted Florida high school, as many as 500,000 people are expected to rally against gun violence and in favor of stricter gun laws on March 24 in Washington, D.C., with sister marches taking place in cities across the world. But a big problem haunts the justifiable outrage over massacres of innocents going about their daily affairs: Whatever we think we know about school shootings, or mass public shootings in general,

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