What drives someone to buy a gun, plan to kill others, and then go out and do it?
This is the question on many peoples’ minds after the shootings in Oxford, Buffalo and Uvalde. That’s because while America is one of the most violent nations in the developed world and has more guns than any other developed nation, there are still questions about what drives someone to kill others.
Journalist Mark Follman recently wrote a book investigating this question. He says there is nothing fundamentally off or psychopathic about shooters. Rather, it’s their surrounding circumstances, and a series of personal unfortunate events, that push people closer to committing mass violence.
“That’s the essence of the work — to really wrap around the situation itself like that and manage it so that the person who is potentially planning for violence can be steered away from doing so.” — Mark Follman, journalist and author
Listen: How behavioral threat assessment teams prevent mass violence before it happens
Mark Follman is a journalist and author of the new book “Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America.” He says threat assessment teams try to pick up on certain signals before intervening compassionately in the life of someone who may be preparing to commit mass violence.
“That’s the essence of the work, to really wrap around the situation itself like that and manage it so that the person who is potentially planning for violence can be steered away from doing so,” says Follman. “The field refers to this as ‘the pathway to violence.’”