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What Mass Shooters Often Have in Common

More from our inbox: Want to Get Published? D.I.Y.!Calls for SecessionA Pipeline Solution?Many experts who study how to prevent mass shootings …

What Mass Shooters Often Have in Common
08.09.2022 03:57

More from our inbox:

  • Want to Get Published? D.I.Y.!
  • Calls for Secession
  • A Pipeline Solution?
What Mass Shooters Often Have In Common

Many experts who study how to prevent mass shootings have come to focus on marked changes in behavior, demeanor or appearance, uncharacteristic fights or arguments, or telling others of plans for violence.Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

To the Editor:

“Life Crisis Is Often a Warning of Mass Shootings” (front page, Aug. 23) suggests that personal crises often motivate a perpetrator to carry out a mass shooting. However, it fails to highlight the significant role that domestic violence plays in predicting mass shootings in the United States.

Last year, my colleagues and I published a study that found that nearly seven in 10 mass shootings in the U.S. have a connection to domestic violence — either through the relationship between the perpetrator and victims or through the perpetrator’s history of domestic violence.

The relationship between guns and domestic violence is well known. A woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun. More than half of all intimate partner homicides are perpetrated with a firearm. Our research found that a history of domestic violence extends to mass shootings as well.

The first step in addressing this deadly intersection is by bringing it to the forefront of conversations. We must stop treating domestic violence as “private violence,” immune from intervention and separate from other mass shootings. Our lawmakers must prioritize legislation to prevent the purchase and possession of firearms by those with histories of domestic violence. The “warning signs” are right in front of us. Will we continue to ignore them?

Lisa Geller
The writer is the director of state affairs at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.

To the Editor:

We have seen several horrific incidents in recent months, from increased violence in the New York City subways to the Uvalde school shooting. Despite these tragedies, we at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City have continued to assert that mental illness does not necessarily cause this violence.

People living with severe and chronic mental illness are 11 times more likely to be victims of violence than the general population, but the media and politicians reinforce the opposite notion. This article makes it clear that there are many red flags, like a personal crisis or childhood trauma, that are more accurate indicators of an individual’s likelihood of harming others.

We thank the author, Shaila Dewan, for destigmatizing how we talk about mental illness. Most people with mental illness are not criminals and are not violent. Nearly one in five adults lives with mental illness, and the other four have mentally ill family, friends or neighbors.

We’ll get nowhere in our advocacy toward mental health equity, in building support systems and even in expanding insurance coverage if we continue reinforcing misconceptions about what mental illness looks like and preventing people from getting the support they need.

Matt Kudish
New York
The writer is the executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness of NYC (NAMI-NYC).

To the Editor:

School shootings are preventable. According to an analysis by the U.S. Secret Service of 41 targeted school attacks, in almost every case, students and other community members observed warning signs in advance of school violence. Programs that teach what these warning signs are and how to take action have been proven to work.

Sandy Hook Promise’s “Know the Signs” programs have helped prevent more than 10 credible planned mass shooting attacks in rural, urban and suburban schools, along with hundreds of youth suicides and countless acts of violence. All of these programs are accessible online, at no cost to schools.

Instead of waiting for the next school shooting, let’s make sure that every school in the country is working to be sure that students know what the warning signs are and — even more important — how to get help. We need to empower more kids to be “upstanders” in prevention instead of bystanders to tragedy.

Nicole Hockley
Newtown, Conn.
The writer is the co-founder and chief executive of Sandy Hook Promise.

Want to Get Published? D.I.Y.!

“I’d like people to know that it’s possible for a debut author in her 40s, a woman of color, a mom, who led a quiet life offline with no brand building whatsoever to have this experience,” said Jessamine Chan.Credit…Lawrence Agyei for The New York Times

To the Editor:

I read “Finished Writing a Novel? Now’s the Tough Part” (Arts, Aug. 26) with mixed emotions. First, you chronicle in detail Jessamine Chan’s painful experiences with the publishing industry after she finished her manuscript. That story is a lesson for any writer foolish enough to believe in the myth that publishing a novel through traditional avenues is easy and guarantees readers’ acceptance, so thank you for that.

Unfortunately, nowhere do you mention that there’s an easy way for an author to avoid the punishing gantlet that Ms. Chan had to run: self-publishing! I know, because I’ve experienced that gantlet (with three novels and two traditional publishers) and know it’s inefficient and depressing at best.

With self-publishing, once I finish a manuscript, it costs me the price of a unique cover to get it published! I avoid agents, acquisition editors, other editors who want to change my voice and the wait traditional publishers make one suffer through before one’s book is published. And with social media, I can reach out to many readers all over the world, something traditionally published authors must do anyway to promote their books.

Your article is only part of the story. There’s something better for authors nowadays.

Steven M. Moore
Montclair, N.J.

Calls for Secession

Inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Credit…Mike Theiler/Reuters

To the Editor:

Re “What’s With All the Fluff About a New Civil War, Anyway?,” by Sarah Vowell (Opinion guest essay,, Aug. 28):

Ms. Vowell tries to superimpose current support for some sort of secession or disunion onto the map of America circa 1860; that’s why she can’t conceive of a new “Civil War.” But a lot of historians I’ve read seem to think we’re headed for something more like the Troubles in Northern Ireland. That’s no fun either.

Here’s a better idea: Call a constitutional convention to dissolve the union (and ideally, create a North American defense force with Canada and Mexico that will inherit the United States’ military assets). As the former states form new alliances, you will probably end up with a handful of nations, each with more homogeneous views on fundamental things like the duties of citizens and the proper role of government.

Ms. Vowell seems to think that sensible centrists like her need to hammer the phrase “We are stuck with each other” into the heads of stubborn radicals on both extremes. But here’s another sensible viewpoint: People cannot live together in peace under a system that allows one group to impose wildly different values and lifestyles on another.

Ben Cohen
Bastrop, Texas

A Pipeline Solution?

Credit…Michael Swensen/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Climate change has put us in an intolerable situation in which parts of the country are suffering from terrible droughts, yet other parts of the country are overwhelmed by rain and floods. It seems to me that a fairly simple solution, although expensive and labor intensive, is available.

Why can’t the Army Corps of Engineers along with other entities lay pipes that would carry water from traditional flooding areas to drought-stricken areas, thus easing both situations?

Wallace Greene
Fair Lawn, N.J.


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