The Atlantic

What Do We Make of a Female Active Shooter?

We know very little about women who attempt mass killings, mostly because there are so few of them.
Source: Edward Olive / Getty

The biggest surprise about Tuesday’s shooting at YouTube wasn’t the fact that there was a shooting. Americans are horribly used to the ritual of these events by now: the sick feeling of waiting for the body count, the time it takes for biographical information to trickle out and a motive to be set forth, the think pieces advocating for fewer guns or more guns, excoriating white male rage or toxic masculinity. But one part of the script was upended in Tuesday’s shooting: The person holding the gun was a woman.

“Mass murder is typically a profoundly male act,” write the criminology professors Eric Madfis and Jeffrey W. Cohen in a paper published in . The statistics leave no room for doubt: Women are far less likely to commit any sort of murder, much less mass murder. According to 93.4 percent

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Bill Barr Already Won
President Trump’s attorney general had the first word on the Mueller investigation. It may end up being the final word.
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Iran Is Acting Like the International Villain of Trump’s Prophecy
Any number of relatively mundane scenarios now have the potential to escalate U.S.-Iran tensions—from a fire at a militia base to the seizure of an oil tanker to the signal-jamming of a drone.
The Atlantic3 min read
A Book That Examines the Writing Processes of Two Poetry Giants
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge once spent a grueling year in nature, subsequently producing some of their most resonant works.