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Every Mass Shooting Case Has Had 'Identifiable Warning Signs'

Updated: May 30, 2022

The narrative about mass shooters that "no one could’ve seen this coming” is false, author Mark Follman writes in Mother Jones. After studying many mass shootings, Follman says "every case subject showed a mix of identifiable warning signs," which fall into eight categories: entrenched grievances, threatening communications, patterns of aggression, stalking behavior, copying other mass shooters, personal deterioration, triggering events like a major failure in school, work or a relationship, or attack preparation like acquiring a gun, practicing at a range and surveilling a venue.

Many of these warning signs were escalating long before the shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo and Michigan's Oxford High School. The expanding knowledge of these patterns are an opportunity for threat assessment teams to intervene, before it’s too late. Follman says attacking the problem will "take many different forms of action: continuing a relentless, long-term effort to strengthen our nation’s gun laws. Quashing a surge in violent political extremism. Investing in a lacking mental health care system. And building community-based violence prevention programs."


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