Klarevas (Global Affairs/Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston) shares his research showing that mass shootings are more common than widely believed but can be decreased by addressing the conditions common to all the massacres.
A trinity of gun violence is at the heart of the book: unstable shooters, unsecured targets, and extraordinarily lethal weapons. Using the trinity as a starting point for understanding seemingly irrational mass murders, Klarevas suggests changes in laws and regulations to reduce danger. He explains why identifying likely perpetrators and fortifying places where they are most likely to strike can work but that the most effective measures would involve controlling certain types of weapons. As he methodically builds his case, the author debunks the research of gun rights advocates, especially the ubiquitous John Lott. Klarevas demonstrates convincingly that most perpetrators fall into an age range that allows full employment, suffer from mental illness, and often view firearms as a hedge against self-esteem issues. The killers tend to focus on people and locations to which they share a real or imagined connection. The chosen locations cannot be defended easily, even by armed personnel onsite. The body counts have increased because lightweight, semiautomatic weapons holding massive numbers of bullets have become increasingly available from manufacturers. Throughout the book, Klarevas alternates explanations of his painstaking research with detailed, gory accounts of rampage killings. He focuses on cases involving a variety of perpetrators and a minimum of six deaths. One of the striking details involves the brevity of the actual shootings. The killer is often able to begin and end the rampage within 10 minutes, although to those at the scene, the duration of the shooting can seem eternal. The author ends with an appendix titled “A Theoretical Profile of Seung Hui Cho,” the Virginia Tech killer.
A deeply researched, clearly written study that educates while it horrifies.