Link between mass shooters, absent fathers ignored by anti-gun activists

Link between mass shooters, absent fathers ignored by anti-gun activists, by Bradford Richardson.

Gun control activists are quick to blame mass shootings on the proliferation of firearms, but are less likely to point to the proliferation of fatherless households.

Yet research shows that school shooters tend to come from broken homes, where one or more parent is absent, addicted or abusive.

Warren Farrell, co-author of the just-released “The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It,” said the frequency at which fathers are absent has been devastating for the development of boys. He pointed to research showing that boys without fathers fare worse than boys with fathers on more than 70 different metrics.

“They’re much more likely to drink, much more likely to do drugs, much more likely to be depressed, much more likely to be suicidal, much more likely to be violent, much more likely to be in prison,” Mr. Farrell said. “And they’re also much more likely to commit mass shootings.” …

Mr. Farrell said a boy who grows up without a father is rarely given sufficient boundary enforcement from a young age. This leads to the inability to postpone gratification and do well in school and athletics compared to other boys, which in turn causes him to resent his peers and authority figures.

These feelings are only exacerbated as he enters adolescence and girls reject him, causing him to retreat into video games and pornography.

“You can imagine how the fantasy of being able to shoot all these people who have rejected him is appealing,” Mr. Farrell said. “Being for once in his life recognized and talked about all over the world by people wondering about his motivations.”

Mr. Farrell said social, economic and technological changes have also made it more difficult for boys to find purpose in life. He said boys in the old days found purpose in becoming “disposable,” either in war or in the workplace.

“Today, there’s a purpose void, because you don’t need as many boys in war, and both girls and boys share the potential for being breadwinners,” he said. “When that purpose void combines with fatherlessness, boys don’t have a way of being guided to a more nuanced sense of purpose.” …

Peter Langman, an expert on the psychology of school shooters, compiled data that showed the vast majority came from households characterized by divorce and separation, abuse and neglect, alcoholism and drug addiction. …

Studies of imprisoned Islamic State, or ISIS, recruits, for instance, have shown that they were often deprived of fathers or otherwise grew up in broken homes. The terrorist organization gives boys, especially fatherless ones, what they were unable to find elsewhere: the ability to sacrifice themselves for a supposedly higher cause.