The Logic of Murderous Rampages & Other Essays on Violence & Its Prevention

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This law is enforced through mandatory background checks that take place at the time of gun purchase from a licensed dealer. However, the law permits the sale of guns without a background check by unlicensed dealers. As a consequence, persons prohibited from owning guns can buy them from private sellers at gun shows and over the Internet.

This loophole should be closed by requiring universal background checks for all gun sales.

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In combination with an assault weapon ban, this would make it considerably harder for someone planning a mass shooting to acquire assault weapons. This is the legal loophole that allowed Dylan Roof to kill nine people in Charleston, S. The group Ohioans for Gun Safety is planning a ballot initiative that would require all gun sales in Ohio to be completed with a background check. This is particularly important because buying a gun at a Ohio gun show is the most prevalent form of gun transaction in the state. Ohio gun show distributors face little regulation. No state license is required to sell a gun, there is no mandatory record keeping, there is no communication with the state, and police inspections are not allowed.

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As a result, Ohio remains a top source of interstate crime guns, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Allow law enforcement officials to keep modern, searchable records of firearm and ammunition purchases. Tracking the purchase of guns and ammunition electronically would provide law enforcement officials with a powerful tool to spot the weapon stockpiling that precedes a mass shooting.

Urban Violence in Africa

Analysts might pay particular attention to stockpiling preceding a large public event in a given location. Cross checking this against other databases such as the terrorist watch list would enhance the ability to spot and investigate suspicious behavior before a mass shooting takes place. The creation of an efficient database has been vigorously opposed by the gun lobby on the basis that it constitutes an invasion of privacy. We feel that the public safety argument in favor of gun tracking outweighs privacy concerns. In our own field, which highly values privacy, we have accepted that for the health and safety of a community, it is important to report certain communicable diseases to public health departments.

When treating gun violence like an public health issue, this same approach should apply. It is not unreasonable to require someone who wishes to own a highly dangerous weapon to provide data such as name and address in the interest of preventing that weapon from being used for violent crime and mass murder. As physicians, we have seen how public health research has led to laws that save lives, such as the prohibition of drunk and distracted driving, the requirement for seat belt use, and the universal installation of airbags in cars.

All of these have all measurably and substantially reduced unnecessary deaths. Congress should end the ban on public funding of research on gun violence. The Centers for Disease Control should be fully funded to investigate the epidemiology of gun violence and to propose practical, science-based measures to address it. Objective data is the only logical way to have a conversation and enact laws that reduce gun violence.

If private individuals are to have a role in responding to mass shootings, they should be trained and licensed. The effect of concealed carry has been studied thoroughly in the past few years, with the conclusion that there is no discernible relationship between the number of concealed carry permits issued in a state and the crime rate. Of active shooting incidents from to , according to an FBI analysis, only one was stopped by a concealed carry permit holder.

The news around this violence spread quickly through Whatsapp, leading to stone pelting and false alarms. Mohsin Sheikh was killed on the night of 2 June in Hadapsar, two days after demonstrations against the circulation of the morphed images began. More than 12 people were injured in the violence Ansari In a span of a few days, more than government buses were burnt, and Muslim businesses, madrasas and mosques were attacked in Hadapsar.

The Hadapsar police arrested 21 persons in this case of whom 11 were granted bail between April and June Dhananjay Desai was refused bail, and remains behind bars in Yeravada prison. Much of the debate regarding speech and violent action has been centred on whether arresting or criminalising a person for speech that allegedly results in violence, is justified or not.

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The legal scholar Susan Benesch and her colleagues have been grappling with the idea of dangerous speech, which is a subset of public speech and has the capacity of increasing the risk of group violence. They advocate strongly non-legal measures such as counter speech to address dangerous speech, and highlight the dangers of criminalisation of dangerous speech.

Criminal laws, while framed as tackling dangerous speech, are often used to muzzle political and other dissent, and can backfire as a strategy, often giving more publicity to the speaker Maynard and Benesch I find this framework of dangerous speech a useful point of reference to discuss the events in Pune in and to describe the content on social media that was circulated during, and as a precursor to communal violence, and is widely believed to have served as a catalyst for communal tensions, and violence in the incidents I describe.

As per the dangerous speech framework, the factors that may increase the risk of speech leading to atrocities include the influence of the speaker; whether the audience has grievances and fears that the speaker can cultivate; a speech act that is clearly understood as a call to violence; a social or historical context that is propitious for violence; and a means of dissemination that is influential in itself Benesch It is this last factor, the means of dissemination, specifically the circulation of material on social media in the lead up to, and during communal violence in India that I focus on in this paper.

The violence in Pune is one in a series of communal and ethnic violence in India in the post period, where content circulating through internet-enabled mobile phones and on social media, has reconfigured the way in which the law, police, and civil society have grappled with this issue. The term social media has been defined as referring to both a sites and services that emerged globally in the s including social networking sites, video sharing and blogging platforms that allow users to share and post their content and b the cultural mindset that emerged in the mid s as part of the technical phenomenon called Web 2.

In August , the circulation of threatening SMSs and MMSs in Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and other cities with a sizeable population of persons from the North East, was one of the first incidents where the configuration involving dangerous speech, social media and public disorder became visible.. Thousands of persons from the North East, many of whom were workers in the service industry and students, fled these cities fearing for their physical safety.

Circulating at the time were images related to violence against Muslims in Assam, where in May , Bodo militants had killed 32 Muslims in the Baksa and Kokrajhar districts. Such was the scale of panic that the Indian Railways arranged for nine special trains to Guwahati as thousands of people gathered at the Bengaluru railway station, desperate to go.

The central government responded to the serious situation by blocking bulk SMSs, a number of websites, twitter accounts, blogposts and blogs that were related to communal issues and rioting Prakash More than 60 people were killed and more than 50, displaced in the riots. The accompanying text and audio messages falsely claimed that the video was of a group of Muslims lynching two Hindus in Kawal, where two Hindu men and a Muslim man had been killed as a result of a confrontation over an alleged incident of eve teasing. The circulation of this video played an important role in the mobilising of the Jat community, as well as in creating an atmosphere of distrust among people in the region.

According to newspaper reports, the Vishnu Sahai Commission Report, instituted by the Uttar Pradesh government to investigate the riots, states that the circulation of the Kawal video, was a significant factor in the events leading up to the riots. Many people feared that the political changes at the centre would lead to a rise in anti-Muslim speech, and heighten communal tensions [iv]. After the outbreak of violence on 31 May in Pune, members of civil society, worried about the fallout of the riots and the continued communal tensions in the area.

They began to address the circulation of morphed and incendiary images that they felt had vitiated the atmosphere in the city. They had worked together towards relief efforts during a drought in the region.


On their Facebook page, members of the SPF described themselves as a youth group to stop anti-social messages on Facebook. They took on the role of civil society watchdogs, and began monitoring content on social media, both to try and get material taken down, as well as to educate the public about the use of social media. While their Facebook group had more than 20, members at the time, they formed a core group of 10 persons who examined online content for what they deemed dangerous in the context of the ongoing communal tensions and violence.

Once they identified such posts on Facebook, they called upon their larger Facebook group to identify this content as spam Hindistan Times The SPF members were worried that their communication while identifying and responding to such dangerous speech could have technically been interpreted as a violation of section 66A of the Information Technology Act which was in force at the time, and which was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in This model was widely seen as a useful approach in tackling the situation. They considered these actions as another form of moral policing, with the danger of what is considered offensive becoming a matter of subjective choice.

How to Prevent Mass Shootings – PAN Position Paper

They created a number of Whatsapp groups with representatives of the locality, prominent citizens and members of local societies, police chowkis, and social workers and politicians from the area. Around 3, police officers were added to these groups to help track content that was circulating and to keep a tab on the happenings. The only way for the police to track content on Whatsapp was when someone brought it to their attention, or when they were themselves part of groups in which this material circulated.

The Pune police in turn used bulk SMSes, email, Twitter and Whatsapp to send out messages and police combined their efforts online with more traditional measures at educating people on the use of social media through programmes that they conducted in schools, colleges, housing societies, public spaces, community halls.

They invited politicians and leaders of civil society organisations. They collaborated actively with IT experts, social activists, teachers and other citizens. They created films, organised debates and lectures on this theme, and held interactions with elderly people and parents. As per the police, they had messages taken off social media sites and blocked websites, after going through the legal process and the CERT- In.

The collaboration between the police and the Social Peace Force to tackle dangerous speech online raises important questions on the viability and dangers of such an approach. While no doubt extremely effective, such an approach could be described as social media vigilantism since it did not have clear guidelines on what kind of speech was considered unacceptable.

However, given the importance of a real time response in such a serious situation of communal violence, where the threat of the loss of life and property were important considerations, it is important to acknowledge this as a novel model that civil society and the police experimented with.

In any case, the Pune police and the Social Peace Force were not the ones who ultimately took down the content. What was their motive? However, motive may be shown by the prosecution in order to prove that a defendant had a plausible reason to commit the crime. The question of motive can be hard to answer—unless one devotes substantial time and effort, using the correct approach and the right expertise.

At the request of the Littleton, Colorado D. Through several interviews and painstaking data gathering, Dietz was able to conclude that the two shooters had multiple motives—power, respect, control, and revenge. Common rational motives for criminal acts include greed, anger, jealousy, and the other ignoble human motivations.

In contrast, an irrational motive typically involves symptoms of psychosis, such as a paranoid delusion that someone is trying kill you. While motive can depend upon a seemingly endless combination of bio-psycho-social factors, even in the most heinous and difficult to fathom crimes, there is motive. Such cases did not capture much media attention.

In contrast, mass shootings beginning in the s have been covered intensely by the media and appear to be a different type of violence, at least in the eyes of the public. Psychiatric illness, while present in some mass murderers and mass shooters, is far from the most significant or consistent finding when individual cases are analyzed in great detail.

No research has reliably established that most mass murderers and shooters are psychotic or suffering from a serious mental illness. However, many have been found to have been preoccupied with feelings of social persecution and fantasies of revenge for some type of perceived injustice. Studies of mass murderers have found that it is not uncommon for them to leave some type of final communication.

First Responders: Women as Witnesses to Mass Violence, Jo Scott-Coe