UNDERSTANDING YOUNG MASS SHOOTERS: A NARRATIVE ANALYSIS OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO COMMITTED MASS SHOOTINGS IN THE UNITED STATES BETWEEN 1993-2018.
by JONATHAN M. DUBOS
ABSTRACT: This study explores the phenomenon of mass shootings perpetrated by young people in the United States over the past few decades by investigating the narrative accounts of 14 people who committed public mass shooters when they were 25 or younger between the years of 1993 and 2018. Using narrative analysis, a qualitative methodology that focuses on phenomenological first-person accounts as the objects of investigation, this study systematically scrutinizes these personal accounts in order to expand clinical understanding of the autobiographical experience of these young people.
The narrative presentation offers the reader the opportunity to observe one researcher’s process of exploring the individual narratives of 14 young mass shooters. This process can inform the qualitative approaches to working clinically with young people who have the potential to commit mass violence. Clinicians, whose expertise necessitates working relationally with any person who seeks their professional help, must approach each client from a place of intentionality and limited character judgment in order to grasp the complexities inherent in each troubled young person. The current study utilizes this clinical psychological lens in the evaluation of the individuals’ self-narratives. Through the detailed retellings of each shooter’s background and narrative, the analysis presents both unique and shared characteristics of these young mass shooters. The researcher found that it was not necessary to study an arbitrary number of shooters in an analysis in order to provide clinically significant findings. Future research would benefit from further exploration into factors of race and class differences between shooters.