Oh, Fun: Research Says Mass Shootings Make Insecure Dopes Feel 'Empowered' By Guns


Have you ever looked at a person armed to the hilt with assault rifles, yelling about how the Second Amendment gives them the right to overthrow the government or posing sexily with a gun shoved down their pants and thought "Wow! What a fabulously secure individual!" Probably not. And according to a new study, your instincts there would be correct.

According to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who feel "disempowered" are likely to respond to a mass shooting by feeling more willing to shoot someone themselves and more likely to express violent ideas after hearing about one.

This seems like it might be a pretty dangerous phenomenon that could lead to some pretty bad stuff. It also explains why obviously insecure people always respond to mass shootings by saying "No, we actually need more guns."

Via PsyPost:

In four separate studies of 2,442 U.S. gun owners, the researchers found evidence that a sense of disempowerment was positively associated with willingness to shoot a home intruder and engage in vigilantism.

"This particular study, on mass shootings, pertains to the spreading of violent ideas. We tested whether specific individuals – namely, those who are searching for their own means of personal empowerment, were the most likely to express more violent ideas in response to mass shootings."

In four separate studies of 2,442 U.S. gun owners, the researchers found evidence that a sense of disempowerment was positively associated with willingness to shoot a home intruder and engage in vigilantism.

Disempowered participants agreed with statements such as "Not a lot is done for people like me in America" and "If I compare myself against other Americans, my group is worse off." In one study, the researchers experimentally manipulated a sense of disempowerment by giving some participants a cognitive test that was impossible to solve correctly.

This could also explain the surge of mass shootings in America over the past several years.

Pontus Leander, the author of the study, argues against the familiar refrain that things like mass shootings are "random or senseless," and that by working to understand the psychological underpinnings of why people commit such atrocities, we can do more to prevent them.

"If we want to end the spread of violence, we must develop theories that can explain the psychological appeal of such behavior. With regards to the influence of mass shootings, we are in unknown territory and we have more questions than we can answer with our current resources. More research is needed. A lot more,"

He's not wrong. These kinds of killings are not random or senseless. Those who commit them have reasons for why they commit them and more often than not, it is because they feel "disempowered" in some way. While this "disempowered" feeling may not be rational, it's certainly real enough to them to feel they need to go and murder people about it. We've got men who feel women are not giving them the romantic attention they feel they are owed, white men murdering minorities they feel are getting too powerful.

I hate to put it this way, but I truly believe that a big part of the reason why most of these shooters are straight white men is at least partly because everyone else learns early on that life isn't going to be fair for them, everyone else gets inured to feeling powerless, everyone else gets the "you're going to have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good" speech. White men are socialized, not just by society but by our culture at large, to believe that things are supposed to go a certain way for them. Some learn to deal with it when it doesn't, like adults, others go right off the deep end. It comes out somewhere. They vote for Trump, they join racist and misogynistic internet forums, and yes, sometimes they kill people.

I'm not suggesting we coddle anyone, but if we don't start acknowledging this and figuring out a way to address it, things are only going to get worse.


Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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