I have never spoken with a school shooter, but I’ve talked with many teenage boys and young men who—though behaviorally nonviolent themselves—emotionally connect with the anger, alienation, and hopelessness of school shooters.
Regardless of whether they received poor or excellent grades, these teenage boys and young men all tell me that high school was an oppressive experience. When we talk about Trump’s support for arming school teachers, they make caustic remarks such as: “Prison experts have long known that it’s a bad idea for prison guards to carry guns.”
Cynical about virtually all societal institutions, these young people tell me that NRA leaders care only about the NRA and gun profits and couldn’t care less about them. And they have no hope that gutless politicians’ gun control laws will decrease school shootings.
These teenage boys and young men are acutely sensitive to the variety of ways adults try to coerce compliance, and they dislike both self-identified “conservatives” and “liberals.” For these young people, conservatives’ religion and militarized society and liberals’ schools and shrinks are different faces of the same oppressive box.
Especially cynical about mental health treatment, these young people all know emotionally troubled peers for whom mental health treatments were unhelpful, in some cases resulting in troubled kids becoming scary ones. Some of these young men whom I talk with…