Originally Posted by Saya
Its not a fair reason to point out, a lot of people are trying to make this about mental health care, but its being a simpleton on a cultural problem. Yeah, some people don't get the help they need and its tragic, but others do and shit happens all the same. The Aurora shooter, it turned out, got excellent care from a psychiatrist who is a pioneer in violence prevention. A sense of alienation can be a factor, that perhaps healthcare COULD help with, but not necessarily, and so can the desire of infamy and adoration (mass killers and serial killers are seriously romanticized, and seem to really enjoy it.) We don't know enough to speculate.
And even if its mental illness, mental illness manifests itself in cultural ways. Someone in Florida is not going to get ice madness, and a Canadian with social anxiety disorder or agoraphobia isn't going to be diagnosed as a Hikikomori. When mass killings seem to be a social disease, we should really look for cultural reasons why this happens.
As for the army thing, the thing is, yes, I think generally when we live in comfort, we have an aversion to violence, but we also have a fight or flight response like every other animal. The best way the army gets soldiers to fight is to instill a feeling of fraternity, you look out after your own. Even when people get turned onto violence, they might not shoot if they don't feel like people are depending on them. During the GI Revolt in Vietnam, soldiers who would frag officers were still being violent and still had that sense of fraternity, but they still has a conscious to try and end the violence with the Vietnamese. In times of anomie, anybody can do horrible things. In times of war, everybody can do horrible things, even civilans with no army training (like what often happened during the collapse of Yugoslavia or civilian Nazi supporters).
The book focuses more on serial killers than mass shooters (although they are talked about), but Hunting Humans by Elliott Leyton talks a LOT about factors of class in each study case. I had to read it for the course he used to teach before he retired, and the new professor supplemented with more recent studies, but what I remember is that often, the killers are seeking social status or power over those who have status over them. Kemper, for example, said he tried to only kill women who seemed rich, and was distressed and felt guilty when one of his victims he later suspected was actually poor. Bundy was very much like this, very obsessed with class and status, and sought to exert control and power and vengeance because he wanted to be elite. Can't have it, so must destroy it. Maybe one factor is the sense of entitlement to privilege.
There will always be outliers. Of course giving everyone the very best in health care, and being part of loving families and having meaningful and enjoyable work, it's still entirely possible for people to do awful things, and I do not believe there is any way the dangers of that can ever be fully mitigated. Like you said, maybe someone wants to be (in)famous, or make a religious or political point, or any number of possibilities.
Doing more to make treatment options not only available, but also doing more to remove the stigma attached to it can make it more likely for people to get the help they need, and hopefully head off as much heartache as possible.
If someone is likely to be a danger to themselves or others, then I don't think it's a good idea for them to have weaponry. However, if they are that much of a danger, then they really should be getting help anyway. The people that aren't dangerous to themselves or others... aren't dangerous to themselves or others and should be considered outside the scope.
Furthering the military comment, there were many accounts of Civil War soldiers repeatedly loading weapons. They wouldn't fire, even in the setting of a battlefield were other people were shooting at them. They'd pantomime the actions expected of them, and found after the fact lying next to their rifle loaded with multiple shots, without once having actually fired. It's an amazing contrast between some of these people, being put in the place were violence was not only allowed but actively encouraged and rewarded, and to see the unwillingness to engage in it, set against how easily it seems others can resort to it.