The Justice Department paid for the study by the Violence Project, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to reducing violence in society. The group compiled a database of mass shootings, defined by the FBI as the killings of four or more people -- not including the shooter -- in a public place.
According to an article by VICE News, the study found nearly all mass shooters since 1966 have had four things in common. VICE reports the study found the shooters typically have access to a firearm, an experience with childhood trauma, a personal crisis or specific grievance and a “script” or examples that validate their feelings.
The study compared 100 variables and found mass shootings are becoming much more frequent and deadly. VICE noted half the incidents have occurred since 2000 and 20 percent of the total in the last five years.
The Violence Project also found shooters are increasingly motivated by racial, religious or misogynist hatred and targeted five general locations.
The study found elementary and high school shooters are white males, typically students or former students of the school, with a history of trauma. Most are suicidal, plan their crime extensively, and make others aware of their plans at some point before the shooting. They use multiple guns that they typically steal from a family member.
College and university shooters are said to be non-white males who are current students of the university, are suicidal, and have a history of violence and childhood trauma. They typically use legally obtained handguns and leave behind some sort of manifesto, VICE said.
Workplace shooters are generally males around 40 without a specific racial profile. Most are employees of their targeted location, often a blue-collar job site, and have some grievance against the workplace, VICE said. They use legally purchased handguns and rifles.
Place of worship shooters profile as white males in their 40s, typically motivated by hate or domestic violence that spills out into public. Their crimes typically involve little planning.
Shooters at a commercial location are usually white men in their 30s with a violent history and criminal record. The study found they typically have no connection to the targeted location and use a single, legally obtained firearm. VICE said about one-third show evidence of a mental health condition such as schizophrenia that results in disorganized thinking, paranoia, or delusions.
Nearly half the mass shooters in the database purchased their gun legally but most young school shooters took guns from family members. Researchers said this particular factor could bolster arguments for strengthening laws requiring safe storage of firearms.
- Dr. Gatling