I don't know if this will be considered off topic, and if so a Mod can remove this post, but should we not be interested in what enables us to kill
each other in the first place? It is a very fundamental question, which might shed more light on what might, or might not, contribute to people
killing other people (either in a mass shooting, or otherwise).
Some of you might remember that the US Army in the wake of WW2 condicted a study which showed that the ratio of shots fired when compared to the ratio
of enemy casualties, was very much off.
When S.L.A. Marshall, who conducted the study, found that most soldiers did not aim to hit enemy soldiers. This was not only a problem for the US army
and other services, but also for other allies.
After this the US Army did important changes in order to improve the shot to hit ratio. The changes were small, but effective:
- They started to use human shaped targets in stead of bullseye type targets
- They went from single fire to rapid fire exercises
The point of this is to internalize an automatic response that would allow a soldier to shoot another human being without thinking about it, almost
Another thing that was stressed was that the soldier, when shooting at another human being, was doing it for the rest of the "group". Meaning his
fellow soldiers in a kill or be killed scenario, which is what a war is of course.
WIth this there was, allegedly, a significant improvement in hit ratio. And, some researcheres have pointed out, a significant rise in PTSD for
Now, much of this is debated, but I think it is very much where we need to look if we are going to get to the bottom of what is causing people to kill
other people. For most people, including most people with some form of mental disorder, killing another human being is a repulsive act. This repulsion
needs to be overcome if one is to carry out such an act.
From what I have read on this subject these strategies seems to be the most prevalent:
- Desensitization to violence and killing Wikipedia link
- Dehumanization of the victim Wikipedia link
- Collective / group thinking. The idea that you are killing to save the group (your buddies, family etc)
- Appeal to higher authority (Religion, chain of command)
- Self preservation
Now, if we are to understand why people do things like what happens in mass shooting, maybe we need to start looking at what it is in the world that
promote the factors that actually lowers the barriers to killing other people.
What in our society is desensitizing people to acts of violence and killing, if any?
What is contributing to dehumanizing some humans in the eyes of others, if any?
What is contributing to group thinking, and can this be a factor here?
What higher authority can be found that motivates this kind of behaviour?
When it comes to self preservation (kill or be killed type scenarios) I am not certain how relevant this is.
Maybe if we could calmly, and reasonably, discuss this we might come up with something useful
that is relevant to why these things happen.
Can this be somehow on the right track?