Columbine Reporter, Author Offers Five Myths About Mass Shootings


In a Washington Post commentary, Jeff Kass, a former Denver newspaperman who covered and wrote a book about the Columbine High School slayings in 1999, spells out five myths about mass shootings. He writes, “Though psychology doesn't always lend itself to hard statistics, there are some patterns that might surprise you.” Kass says the first myth is that most of the shooters are insane. In fact, a study of 41 attackers involved in 37 incidents from 1974 to 2000 found that only one in six had been diagnosed with mental health problems, though 78 were judged suicidal.

Cutting down on illegal gun sales would help. (The Safe School Initiative found that 68 percent of the attackers obtained guns from their homes or those of relatives); a shooter’s loved ones should have seen it coming. (Sometimes signs go unnoticed, but many shooters do not have a history of violent crime, and teenagers often hide problems from their parents); communities come together after mass shootings. (There may be a sense of unity immediately afterwards, but the threads begin to quickly unravel); and mass shootings can happen anywhere. ( Mass shootings at schools tend to occur in suburbs and small towns, where high school is the main driver of social status).

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