Mass Shootings and How to Prevent Them From Happening

When I was a teacher in a new classroom, I remember one day I was moving things out of the cupboards in my room. I came across a bucket and some cat litter and thought that was strange until a coworker of mine asked if I’d found the cat litter yet, to which I replied, “Yes, what’s it doing there?” She said, “It’s in case there’s a mass shooter and kids are locked in your classroom so long they need to use the bathroom in the corner.”

I remember the feeling that day and the understanding that I as a teacher had an enormous responsibility, much more than teachers in other countries do, because they don’t have mass shootings like we do. I understood from day 1 that I would potentially have to risk my life for my students. And that was just a given. Reports say that police officers didn’t enter the school for a full hour after a shooter entered the school in Uvalde, supposedly because “they could get shot.” But teachers risked their lives to save the students

Mass shootings at schools are now so common, this is what it’s come to: We’ve taken the steps enough to supply classrooms with cat litter, but we haven’t been able to enact adequate gun laws to prevent these things from happening in the first place. And it’s thanks to the NRA and Republican law makers. It makes me sick.

Dr. Jackson Katz, anti-sexist educator and author, has been speaking on the issue of gun violence for years and points out an important piece about mass shooters. “How are we defining manhood in such a way, that so many boys and men feel like they need to use violence to either gain power and control, to establish themselves in a status hierarchy, [or] to redeem their manhood, something that has been taken from them…”

In this video clip, he discusses how gender plays a role in young men acting out by committing mass shootings

Our men deserve better and our society deserves better.

Dr. Caroline Heldman poses the question: How do we prevent mass shootings from happening?

Katz’s response is two fold: Number 1: We create gender equity. Number 2: We enact important gun control legislation. To see the full interview go to YouTube and search Jackson Katz Caroline Heldman or go to Missrepresentation’s Instagram page.

Here is a list of legislators who are accepting money from the National Rifle Association. They are the ones we need to vote out of office.

Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, Roy Blunt, Todd C Young, Thom Tillis, Jon Ernst, Tom Cotton, Bill Cassidy, Rob Portman and Richard Burr. (Source: The Brady Campaign.)

Shooters are Predominantly Male: Why? What Can We Do to Help Foster Healthy Masculinity?

Today, I am thinking about the philosophies and aspects entrenched in society that led a man to go on a shooting spree in which he killed five people in Denver last week. The overwhelming majority of people who are mass shooters are men. But that is rarely pointed out. In 2017, when a man in Vegas shot and killed 61 people, Jackson Katz, anti-sexist educator and author pointed out, “If the Vegas shooter had been a woman, everyone would be talkin [sic] about gender as the critical factor. Cause it’s a (white) man, not so much.” (Katz, 2017.)

The Denver shooter identified by police as, Lyndon McLeod spouted violent, hateful things in posts and books he published on the internet.

“Lyndon McLeod, who police say killed five people during a deadly rampage in the Denver area, was an author dedicated to alt-right philosophies, including masculine supremacy, contrarian COVID-19 beliefs, and targeted violence against the ‘weak’—including those he killed.” (The Daily Beast, 2021)

It is predominantly men who commit violence against women and school shootings as well. Jackson Katz, in his article titled Coverage of ‘School Shootings’ Avoids the Central Issue, states,

“For us to have any hope of truly preventing not only extreme acts of gender violence, but also the incidents of rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence that are a daily part of millions of women’s and girls’ lives, we need to have this conversation. And we need many more men to participate. Men from every level of society need to recognize that violence against women is a men’s issue.” (Katz, 2006.)

Why is it always men committing these acts of violence? I think, in large part, it is due to society prioritizing men over women. This has led some men (like Lyndon McLeod) to believe they are more important than women. (This is where getting rid of patriarchy comes in and to instead institute a system that works in balance for everyone. But that is certainly not going to happen over night…)

I also think we see so many male shooters due to our society’s failure of our men. Our society condemns men to only being allowed to express certain types of emotion: Happiness and anger. This is perpetuated not only by fellow guys but also women and people in general. But men, just like all humans, are complex people with a wide range of emotions and we should be encouraging their whole selves.

If then, as Katz says, it is a “men’s issue,” what can we do? Well, for starters, we can encourage men to express their emotions in ways outside of anger. We can help redefine masculinity.

We can also support the men that are doing good work, like Jackson Katz.

Who else can we support?

Evolving Man, is great Instagram account to follow created by Ben Goresky. He does Men’s Work clinics and promotes healthy masculinity. I love me some good, healthy woke men! Here is a sample of Evolving Man’s message:

[Editors note/update 2/3/22-Evolving Man just posted a few anti-vaccine videos and I am NOT about that…If you decide to support him, be cautious about some of his viewpoints. When I messaged him about it, we had a calm conversation, but he is very much misinformed in this aspect.]

Follow Fight Toxic Masculinity on Instagram too. Here is a sample:

I find it silly that I should even have to state specifically that masculinity is not inherently toxic: There is only a type of masculinity that is toxic, which is harmful to men themselves and results in things like violence. But masculinity is important and wonderful!! We just need to nurture parts of masculinity that are not harmful to the self and to others: To develop masculine attributes like nurturing, strength, accountability and empathy, those key parts of men that are amazing. That is why I am so glad there are men out there, like Jackson Katz and Ben Goresky.

I would like to leave this blog with the open ended questions: What can we do to support men so they can express themselves before the breaking point? Who are more men who are doing the work to create healthy masculinity?

Send me a message or comment below if you know more!

Quote sources: In order of Appearance (For Convenience)

Katz, J. [@jacksonkatz] Oct. 2, 2017 “If the Vegas shooter had been a woman, everyone would be talkin (sic) about gender as the critical factor. Cause it’s a (white) man, not so much.” [Tweet] Twitter

Bolies, B. (2021, December 28). ‘The Weak Better Buckle Up’: Denver Gunman Left Online Trail of Hate. The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 1, 2022, from

Katz, J. (2006, October 13). Coverage of ‘School Shootings’ Avoids the Central Issue. Jackson Katz, PhD. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from

Activist Jackson Katz points out: “The most important factor in school shootings and mass killings is the gender of the perpetrator because they are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

Jackson Katz is an amazing activist, educator and author and he has been speaking about this issue for years. Check out the video, below.

He states, “Can you imagine if 99% of school shootings were done by girls? Can you imagine anybody talking about guns and mental illness as the causes, without first talking about the fact that 99% of the shooters were girls? I don’t think anybody would talk about anything other than that, at least initially. But because boys and men represent the dominant group, we rarely even talk about that, we go immediately to secondary factors…

“I don’t believe boys and men are predetermined to be abusive, towards women or towards other men and boys. I think it is something that we teach them, I think it is something that we socialize them and we can do better than that… 

“How can we change the social norms in society that help to produce these predictable outcomes? Because honestly, until we do that, we’re just running from one case to the next.”