Sorting out the specifics of the shooter’s background and motivation will take investigators some time. Those who have studied mass killings say it’s not uncommon for the perpetrators to harbor anger against society and express hatred toward various groups. Yet harboring such views doesn’t necessarily mean they were the prime motivation for the crime, they say.
Usually it’s “a toxic cocktail of factors,” says Christopher Kilmartin, a professor of psychological science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
But there’s one topic that’s not getting enough discussion, he and some others say: masculinity. “The elephant in the room with … mass shootings is that almost all of them are being done by men,” Professor Kilmartin says. Male shooters often “project their difficulties onto other people…. In this case, it sounds like he was blaming Christians for his problems, but the masculinity piece is what is really missing in the discussions about the equation.”