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Mass Shooters, Absent Fathers: The Link Most Anti-Gun Activist Ignore


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In the weeks following the deadly mass school shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, much of the focus been political, with a push for new gun control laws. 

But research shows that guns are not the root of the problem.

Chuck Holton, a former army ranger and author of Making Men: Five Steps to Growing Up told CBN News fatherlessness factors into many shootings in the United States. 

"Boys need father figures and if they don't have one in the home, they may go to a gang to get that need met and that will lead to violence," he said. 

School shooters are more likely to come from broken homes, where one or both parents is absent, abusive or addicted to drugs.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz, Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter Adam Lanza, and the Columbine High School shooters were all outcasts, victims of bullying and suffered from undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, according to a comprehensive study by the Heritage Foundation. 

"They're much more likely to drink, much more likely to do drugs, much more likely to be depressed, much more likely to be suicidal, much more likely to be violent, much more likely to be in prison," said Warren Farrell, co-author of The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It

"And they're also much more likely to commit mass shootings," he added. 

Psychologist Peter Langman collected data showing that the vast majority of shooters come from households characterized by divorce and separation, abuse and neglect, alcoholism, and drug addiction.

"Out of this sample of 56 school shooters, only 10 (18%) grew up in a stable home with both biological parents," Langman wrote in an article titled "School Shooters: The Myth of a Stable Home."

"In other words," he continued,  "82% of the sample either grew up in dysfunctional families or without their parents together (for at least part of their lives)."

19-year-old Cruz fits this profile. 

He was given up for adoption at birth. Five years later, his adoptive father died of a heart attack and his adoptive mother died of pneumonia just a few months before the shooting. 

"A boy has a question going through his mind as he grows through puberty and into adulthood and that is 'how do I prove to the world that I am a man?'" Holton explained. "Well, a father's job is to help his son navigate that and figure out what a man looks like...and when that father is not there, the boys are going to get their sense of what a man looks like through the popular culture, which we can all probably agree is not a good place."

Holton said having an engaged father in the home will make a huge difference. 

"Part of what we need to see is fathers stepping up, being engaged with their sons, and help them navigate that transition to adulthood," he said. 

"I think that part of the problem we see is that we tell the boys that they don't get to be men until they're 18, 21, 26, in some cases. But in reality, a boy starts to look at becoming a man closer to the age of 14," Holton continued. 

"It's that transitional period where we really see a lot of problems...we see them spend a tremendous amount of time on passive activities, that is video games, watching T.V., and as we know those mediums give very dangerous and violent images to our young boys."

However, Holton adds that the issue of fatherlessness does provide an opportunity for the church to step up. 

"The church has a responsibility to step up," he explained. "The church, I think, needs to work very hard at trying to help young man understand what it means to be a man. Being a man is about being submitted to the Most High God.  You cannot pick up the mantle of manhood and start to redeem the world around you until you submit to the one that gives that authority."


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About The Author


Talia Wise serves as a multi-media producer for CBN News Newswatch, and social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia attended Regent University where she earned a Master’s in Journalism and the University of Virginia. She lives in Newport News, Virginia.