News Analysis: U.S. mass shootings: A crisis among America's white males?

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-07 12:33:58|Editor: Yamei
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Roads are closed by local police near the church where 26 people were killed in Sutherland Springs in the U.S. state of Texas on Nov. 5, 2017. At least 26 people were killed after a gunman opened fire at a church during Sunday services in Sutherland Springs in the U.S. state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday. (Xinhua/Yan Bo)

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- With so many U.S. mass shootings, it begs the question of whether there's a crisis among white males -- the demographic that has carried out the vast majority of mass murders in recent decades.

This weekend saw a mass shooting in a church in the state of Texas. While details are still pouring in, authorities said a gunman entered the church and shot dead over two dozen people.

The shooter, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, fits the profile of most mass shooters in the United States -- white, male and troubled.

"There is a crisis of white males in the United States," Brookings Institution senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"Those in the working class are feeling under siege and economically have not done well," West said. "Many live in areas that are not thriving, and this generates a lot of anger and resentment. If they are not doing well, they look for targets for their resentment and take it out on other people."

Some criminologists attribute this to a sense of economic competition from other demographics, as well as a sense among many in this group that they are slowly being sidelined.

In a Washington Post interview, famed criminologist and Northeastern University professor James Alan Fox said American white males "often complain that their job was taken by blacks or Mexicans or Jews. They feel that a well-paid job is their birthright. It's a blow to their psyche when they lose that."

The past decade has seen a plethora of U.S. jobs shipped overseas, leaving many white, working class males not only jobless, but with dim prospects for the future. Many have become addicted to hard drugs in recent years, and many feel hopeless.

According to Mother Jones, a news magazine, there have been 70 mass shootings nationwide since 1982, and 44 of the shooters were white males.

A 2013 University of Washington study examined the disproportionately high number of mass shootings perpetrated by white men in the United States, and found a link between a sense of entitlement among the group and the desire to get revenge against those they feel have wronged them.

Despite an ongoing public debate over gun control, that issue is unlikely to be solved anytime soon, experts said.

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua that there does not seem to be any solution on the horizon.

"What I can say with certainty, based on my area of expertise, is that in an environment where gun ownership and gun control have become aspects of political orthodoxy for Republican and Democrats, solutions will remain few and far between," Mahaffee said.

"In many ways, it is more lucrative -- financially and electorally -- for each side to gin up their base on this issue, rather than look at compromise solutions," Mahaffee said.

Democrats often cite what they say is a need for more gun laws as their go-to solution, even though in this weekend's case gun laws were already in place.

The shooter was ineligible to purchase a firearm under current gun laws since he had been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force. Those with such a record are not allowed to buy guns, but the record didn't show up in his background check, and he was able to purchase firearms regardless, U.S. media reported.

At the same time, Republicans are often unwilling to budge on simple measures that, if implemented, might save lives.

The weekend's mass shooting followed the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history, which was carried out in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 by an inveterate gambler who fit the profile of a frustrated and angry white male.

The Vegas killings claimed 58 victims and wounded more than 500, when Stephen Paddock, said to be on a losing spree, opened fire on a crowd at a country music concert from a 32-floor hotel room.

The right to bear arms, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, is seen as sacred in many rural communities in America's heartland.

Many firearms advocates are opposed to even the most basic gun control legislation, viewing that as a slippery slope that would eventually result in infringement of their constitutional rights.

Others, however, view measures such as stricter background checks as simply logical, in order to prevent those with a history of violence or mental illness from obtaining firearms. Gun control advocates also believe that military assault-style weapons should be either banned or face stricter regulations.

Experts note that there are no easy solutions, but that stricter background checks could help keep automatic rifles and military-grade ammunition out of the hands of those with a history of violence or mental instability.