SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1: Lankford, A. (2016). Race and mass murder in the United States: A social and behavioral analysis. Current Sociology, 64(3), 470–490. Retrieved from

In the popular discourse, it is commonly assumed that mass murderers and mass shooters are different from most criminals in the United States, because they are almost always white. The present study uses data on 308 mass murderers who attacked from 2006 to 2014 to evaluate this assumption, test for racial differences between mass murderers and all other murderers, and identify characteristics of mass murderers’ behavior by race and ethnic group. Findings suggest that, overall, the racial composition of mass murderers is similar to that of other murderers, and thus may be largely explained by similar social forces, such as structural disadvantages and social inequalities. However, there are significant differences across racial and ethnic groups in attack subtype, victims killed, and attack resolution. In particular, the structural advantages and aggrieved entitlement experienced by whites may help explain their involvement in public mass shootings. Further research in both the United States and other countries may shed additional light on the behavior of mass murderers and the broader social forces that shape them.

Questions that apply to this article:

  1. Identify at least two contributions that this study hopes to make to the field.
  2. What are the limitations of the study?
  3. What are the findings as they relate to structural advantage and to structural disadvantage?