Rampage shootings: an historical, empirical, and theoretical overview

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Current Opinion in Psychology

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Rampage shootings is a relatively new term to describe a phenomenon that has a long history. Rampage shootings are mass shootings (generally defined as involving four or more victims), taking place in a public location, with victims chosen randomly or for symbolic purposes. These shootings are isolated events, meaning they are not connected to another criminal act (such as robbery or terrorism). Research suggests that rampage shootings are not a new phenomenon, but have occurred throughout the US since the early 1900s. There is some evidence of an increase in recent years, but definitional differences across studies and data sources make interpreting trends somewhat tenuous. Theories regarding the perpetration of rampage shootings center on masculinity, mental illness, and contagion effects. Policies aimed at preventing rampage shootings remain somewhat controversial and not well-tested in the literature.

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