3.30.2013

Before Newtown: A Brief on Mass Murderers



Russ Stover
The tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut is only the newest in a long list of mass murders in the United States.  This article seeks to serve as a brief on this type of homicide for those interested in the subject whether passing or in-depth. 
Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut
Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In his book Flash Point: The American Mass Murderer Michael Kelleher (1997) divides mass murderers in the following types:
1.       Perverted Love – A family member who kills others of his family out of their own depression, pathology, or insanity.
2.       Politics and Hate – Killing others for their political beliefs, religion, or race.
3.       Revenge Killings – The killer wants “payback” for perceived wrongs or humiliations.  The killer puts all the blame for the act on the others.
4.       Sexual HomicideKillers who kill others to get some kind of sexual thrill via inflicting pain on others or receiving pain themselves.
5.       Execution – Those who kill for greed and gain or profit or to cover up other crimes.
6.       Psychotic – Those with a serious mental disorder.
7.       Unexplained – Killers who commit suicide and leave behind no notes or explanations or any indication of motive.
Mass murderers are usually male, in their 20s or early 30s although the age has ranged as high as 80-something.  Most mass murders either commit suicide outright at the end of their spree or else are killed police, also called “suicide by cop”.  Suicide is predominant among those who attack schools and workplaces.
The preferred method of killing by mass murderers in the US is a firearm.  However, the weapon used can be poison, explosives, a vehicle, or even a knife.  Below is a list of attacks since the year 2000 for the United States.  Many like to point out the US has many more than other countries.  On the surface sure this would appear so.  However, if taken as a per 100,000 like other crimes the numbers are much different.
These are attacks where the killer predominantly targeted co-workers, although family members and innocent bystanders have also been killed. 
Country
# Attacks Since 2000
Per 100,000
# Killed
# Wounded
USA
6
.002
40
12
2
.0001
13
3
Afghanistan
2
.008
11
8

School Place Killings
These are killings that occurred in and around schools, be they elementary, secondary, or university.

Country
# Attacks Since 2000
Per 100,000
# Killed
# wounded
USA
8
.003
87
79
China
17
.001
52
246
Germany
4
.004
31
29

Note the parity of the number killed in light of the restrictive gun laws in China and Germany.
Mass Killings Excluding Work and Schools
Country
# Attacks Since 2000
Per 100,000
# Killed
# Wounded
USA
20
.007
119
188
Philippines
6
.006
43
61
Russia
3
.002
20
19
Switzerland
2
.024
14
32
Germany
2
.002
3
52
France
2
.003
12
26
United Kingdom
2
.003
13
24
China
50
.003
295
375
Note that Switzerland’s per 100,000 is rather high as it is a country of only 8 million whereas China has over 1.2 billion.

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