What Makes a Monster

234091_pistolAfter the recent shooting in Santa Monica, http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/09/18865467-santa-monica-shooting-spree-suspect-identified-as-death-toll-climbs?lite, a friend of mine confessed to being concerned about her grandson. He’s in his early twenties and is diagnosed as bi-polar. She lamented, “All these troubled young men going on rampages.” Would her grandson be next?

My friend’s grandson is not violent or prone to violence, nor does he have any fascination with guns. But the conversation made me wonder, just what does cause a young man to cross the line from troubled to mass murderer? There are a lot of people of all ages who are diagnosed as bi-polar or with some other mental problem and they don’t pick up guns and shoot a lot of people. What makes a monster?

Is the culprit mental illness? In 1949 a WWII vet shot and killed 13 people. Back then they said he was insane and he was sent to an asylum.

Is the culprit bullying? In 1999 two young men shot up a high school in Colorado and killed 13. They had grievances and claimed they’d been bullied.

Is it unfairness at work? The phrase ‘going postal’ has its origins in some nasty workplace killings.

Is the problem bad parenting? Drugs? Alcohol? Access to guns? The questions could go on and on. The problem is that the mass shooters usually end up dead so they can’t be asked what their major malfunction was. 

By all reports the young man in the Santa Monica shooting was troubled for a long time, people knew he’d eventually do something bad. If people had known exactly what he was planning, I’m certain he would have been stopped. But the problem is no one really knows what someone is capable of until it is far too late to do anything about it.

Part of me wishes we could just say that these mass killers were possessed. It would answer all the questions and take away all human responsibility.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day: “Cain killed Abel with a rock, it’s a heart problem, not a gun problem, Jeremiah 17:9.” Some would probably say that this is too simplistic. But when something goes so wrong with a person’s heart to where they are convinced they need to kill, I’m not certain anyone other than the person or anything other than his/her actions can be blamed. It’s not the cause or the weapon it’s a major malfunction in the heart.

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