Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aurora Suspect James Holmes' Mother: 'You Have the Right Person'
PHOTO: Police search the car of suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, who was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, where at least 12 people were shot dead.

Editor's Note: An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.
A California woman who identified herself as the mother of James Holmes, the 24-year-old man federal authorities said is the suspect in a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, told ABC News her son was likely the alleged culprit, saying, "You have the right person."
The woman, contacted at her home in San Diego, spoke briefly with ABC News and immediately expressed concern her son may be involved in the shooting death of at least 12 people overnight.
"You have the right person," she said, apparently speaking on gut instinct. "I need to call the police... I need to fly out to Colorado."
Holmes was apprehended by police outside the theater after allegedly killing 12 people and injuring another 50 during a late night screening of the blockbuster movie "The Dark Knight Rises," authorities said. Law enforcement officials told ABC News the weapons used in the massacre include a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and two handguns.
Local news reports showed aerial video of police cautiously searching Holmes' apartment, some five miles from the Century Aurora 16 theater, as the suspect reportedly told police he had explosives inside. At a morning briefing, local police said that the apartment appeared to be booby-trapped.
A thousand miles away in San Diego, several police cars have arrived at the home of Holmes' mother.
PHOTO: Police search the car of suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, who was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, where at least 12 people were shot dead.
ABC News
Police search the car of suspect, James... View Full Size
Colorado 'Dark Knight' Shooting Witness: I Saw A Guy Right Next To Me Getting Shot Watch Video
Colorado 'Dark Knight Rises' Shooting Witness: Suspect Pointed 'His Gun in My Face' Watch Video
'Dark Knight Rises' Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting Witness: 'I Thought It Was a Prank' Watch Video
James Holmes was a student at the University of Colorado Denver Medical Campus but had dropped out in June, according to a school official. He attended high school in California, a police spokesperson there said.
The police spokesperson provided a statement from the Holmes family in which they said their "hearts go out to those who [were] involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved."
The spokesperson said the family was "very upset" and the incident "has taken everyone by surprise."
Witnesses to the shooting said that a man appeared at the front of the theater about 20 minutes into the movie with a rifle, handgun and gas mask. He then threw a canister that released some kind of gas, after which a hissing sound ensued, and he then opened fire on the crowd packed into the early-morning screening of the film.
"We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant," witness Christ Jones told ABC's Denver affiliate KMGH. "I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two."
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, "They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people."
"The gunshot continued to go on and on and then after we didn't hear anything," the couple told the man. "We finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere."
The FBI said approximately 100 of its agents are on the scene assisting with the ongoing investigation.
ABC News' Lee Ferran, Jack Date, Jason Ryan, Clayton Sandell, Kevin Dolack contributed to this report.

Gun Deaths: A Familiar American Experience

Jul 21, 2012 10:29am

One of the most depressing aspects of the shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., is just how familiar it all is to the American experience.
We’ve seen it so many times, the body counts, the candlelight vigils, the search for motive, the gun control debate. The numbers may be different this time – 12 dead, four guns, 6,000 rounds of ammunition purchased online — but in an effort to put this heartbreak into a national context, here are some other numbers to consider.
In America, over one dozen guns are legally sold every minute of every day.
There are almost 300 million privately-owned firearms in this country — that’s almost enough to arm every man, woman and child — but while there is a gun in four out of every 10 of American homes, only a small percentage of owners have most of the weapons, with the average collection swelling in recent years to around seven guns per owner.
With this massive supply, prices have dropped. The cost of suspected gunman James Holmes’ massive arsenal was $3,000. And with bullets going for around 50 cents a piece, he could fill the 100-round magazine on his AR-15 rifle for around the cost of a tank of gas.
The National Rifle Association is quick to associate more guns with less crime, saying that since the early ’90s, when many states relaxed their weapon laws, violent crime has dropped 70 percent.  Despite the rampages on campuses and military bases, as well as the hail of gang bullets in Chicago that has killed over 200 so far this year, the national murder rate is at a 47-year-low.
But on the other side of the argument, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization, points out that Americans still kill each other with guns at a level that is staggering compared to the rest of humanity.
A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined.
Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids.
But regardless, polls show that public attitudes don’t change, even after a mass slaughter like this. Forty-nine percent say it’s more important to protect gun rights while 45 percent favor tighter gun control.
But no one of any political stripe can denying the human cost of our collective trigger fingers.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in the 44 years since Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot to death, bullets have ended the lives of more than one million people — including 12 in Aurora, Colo., who came together at midnight, just looking to cheer for a superhero.

Names of victims emerge in Colo. theater rampage

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A sports blogger who recently wrote about surviving a shooting in Canada. A man preparing to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. A young woman whose death announcement brought heartbreak, yet closure, to her family.
They were among the 12 people killed when a gunman barged into a crowded Colorado theater, set off gas canisters and opened fire as spectators dove for cover. Dozens of others were injured, including 11 in critical condition.
For Alex Sullivan, it was to be a weekend of fun: He planned to ring in his 27th birthday with friends at a special midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and then celebrate his first wedding anniversary on Sunday.
Late Friday, Sullivan's family confirmed that police told them he was among those killed.
"He was a very, very good young man," said Sullivan's uncle, Joe Loewenguth. "He always had a smile, always made you laugh. He had a little bit of comic in him. Witty, smart. He was loving, had a big heart."
Micayla Medek, 23, was also among the dead, her father's cousin, Anita Busch, told the Associated Press.
Busch said the news, while heartbreaking, was a relief for the family after an agonizing day of waiting for news.
"I hope this evil act ... doesn't shake people's faith in God," she said.
A blogger who recently wrote of surviving a Toronto shooting was also among those killed, the woman's brother said.
The death of Jessica Ghawi, who was also known as Jessica Redfield, was a "complete and utter shock," said her brother, Jordan Ghawi.
He has been using his blog and Twitter account to update what he knew about his sister's condition throughout the day. He also appeared on the NBC "Today" show.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Friday evening at a press conference that the last of the 10 deceased victims from the midnight showing of a Batman movie was removed from the theater Friday afternoon.
Oates said officers expected to get a confirmed list of the dead and meet with their families Friday night.
In addition to the 10 people killed at the theater, two others later died from their injuries.
Jordan Ghawi said on his website that a man who was with his sister at the theater described the chaos, saying he and Jessica Ghawi dropped to take cover when the gunman first started shooting. Jessica Ghawi was shot in the leg, her brother wrote, describing details relayed to him by a man identified on the blog only as a mutual friend named Brent.
Jessica Ghawi began screaming when she was shot, and the friend tried to calm her and stop the bleeding, according to Jordan Ghawi.
The man was then shot, but he continued attending to Jessica Ghawi's wound before he realized she had stopped screaming, Jordan Ghawi stated. The man said Jessica Ghawi had been shot in the head.
Jordan Ghawi said the friend escaped the theater after being shot twice, but he was expected to survive. Jordan Ghawi praised the man, saying his "actions are nothing but heroic."

Jessica Ghawi, 24, moved to Denver from Texas about a year ago and friends and colleagues described her as outgoing, smart and witty.
"She was always kind of a sponge as far as how she could be an even better journalist and sports broadcaster," said Peter Burns, a radio sports show host with Mile High Sports Radio in Denver, where Ghawi recently interned.
Ghawi blogged at length about surviving the Eaton Centre mall shooting in Toronto that killed two people and sent several others to the hospital. Burns and his girlfriend, Lauren Anuskewicz, both said the blog reflected everything she told them.
"She was like, 'You guys would never believe what happened,'" Anuskewicz said.
Jessica Ghawi wrote of the Toronto shooting: "I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders' faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath."
Anuskewicz said Jessica Ghawi had been in Toronto visiting a boyfriend and "it obviously was a very scary situation."
"And to be just so close to it," she added. "It's just impossible to imagine that not even a month and a half later this would happen, and she would be involved. It's just awful."
Yet, Burns said, Jessica Ghawi seemed more enlivened than intimidated by surviving that shooting.
"After the Toronto incident, I think she even looked at that like, 'Hey, even after that, I'm able to pursue my dream,'" he said.
Burns said he was close to her family. He moved to Denver from Texas a few years ago and talked with Jessica Ghawi about establishing a sports radio career there, he said.
Former colleague Mike Taylor, a sports host at KTKR-AM in San Antonio described how she reluctantly changed her name for her career, taking the name "Redfield" as a play on her red hair because it was easier to say than her given name.
Jessica Ghawi was a prolific social media user under the new name. Her last tweet stated in all capital letters, "movie doesn't start for 20 minutes."
On Saturday morning, parents of John Larimer released a statement that Navy officials notified them about midnight that their 27-year-old son was one of the 12 killed.
The family said that Larimer's brother is working with the Navy to take his body home to Crystal Lake, Ill. He was with a unit that belongs to U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet at Buckley Air Force.
Relatives also said 6-year-old Veronica Moser was killed.
Veronica Moser's mother, Ashley Moser, 25, is in critical condition with a bullet in the throat and in the abdomen, Annie Dalton, Ashley's aunt, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Also killed was Matt McQuinn, 27, said family attorney Rob Scott from Dayton, Ohio.
Scott said McQuinn was killed after diving in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire.
On House Floor, a Sweatshirt in Honor of Trayvon Martin

March 28, 2012, 1:57 PM 
Breaching House decorum, Representative Bobby L. Rush donned a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses on the House floor on Wednesday in honor of Trayvon Martin, the teenager fatally shot in Florida in a case that has gained national attention.
During the short morning speeches granted lawmakers each day, Mr. Rush, an Illinois Democrat, condemned what he said was the role of racial profiling in the death of Trayvon, who was unarmed when he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in February. Trayvon’s parents attended a House forum on racial profiling on Tuesday.
“I applaud the young people all across the land who are making a statement about hoodies, about the real hoodlums in this nation, particularly those who tread on our laws wearing official or quasi-official clothes,” he said as he removed his suit coat to reveal a gray hooded sweatshirt.
“Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Rush continued. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”
Seeing Mr. Rush pull up the hood on his sweatshirt, Representative Gregg Harper, Republican of Mississippi, who was presiding, called on Mr. Rush to stop his speech for violating the House dress code. Banging the gavel, Mr. Harper cited the rule prohibiting hats and called on the sergeant-at-arms to enforce it, as Mr. Rush continued speaking over him, quoting the Bible.
On the question of hats, House rules state that “during the session of the House, a member, delegate, or resident commissioner may not wear a hat or remain by the clerk’s desk during the call of the roll or the counting of ballots.”
More Guns, Fewer Hoodies

The debate over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin seems to be devolving into an argument about the right to wear hoodies, but it really does not appear to be a promising development.
Earl Wilson/The New York Times
Congress, which never draws any serious conclusions from terrible tragedies involving gunplay, did have time on Wednesday to fight about whether Representative Bobby Rush of Chicago violated the House dress code when he took off his suit jacket, revealing a gray sweater he was wearing underneath, and pulled the hood up over his head.
You may remember that Geraldo Rivera took measure of the Martin case and determined that the moral was: young men, throw out your hoodies. Even Rivera’s son said he was embarrassed. But, hey, we’re talking about it. Mission accomplished.
“Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” Congressman Rush said, before he was hustled off for violating the rule against wearing hats on the House floor.
This is pretty much par for the course. Whenever there is a terrible shooting incident somewhere in America, our politicians talk about everything except whether the tragedy could have been avoided if the gunman had not been allowed to carry a firearm.
You would think that this would be a great time to address the question of handgun proliferation, but it has hardly come up in Washington at all. This is because most politicians are terrified of the National Rifle Association. Also, the small band of gun control advocates are busy with slightly less sweeping issues, such as their ongoing but still utterly futile effort to make it illegal to sell a weapon to anyone on the terror watch list.
The only serious debate Congress is likely to have this year on the subject of guns involves whether to allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry their handguns into other states.
Say you were from — oh, maybe Florida, where George Zimmerman was carrying a legal, loaded pistol while he was driving around his gated community, looking for suspicious characters. In Florida, even non-Floridians can get a concealed carry permit. You can get the application online. From the Department of Agriculture. (“Fresh from Florida.”)
Under a bill sponsored by Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, you could take your Florida permit and your Florida loaded handgun and travel anyplace in the country, including the states where the police investigate every permit application, and say yes to relatively few. “If this law existed today, George Zimmerman could carry a loaded hidden handgun in Times Square. Today,” said Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
And that would be the moderate version.
Senators John Thune of South Dakota and David Vitter of Louisiana have a competing bill that would relieve residents of states like Vermont and Arizona — which don’t require concealed weapons permits at all — from the cumbersome process of actually putting in some paperwork before they tote their handguns to, say, California or New Jersey. Under this one, Jared Loughner, who shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a judge, a small child and four other innocent Arizonans, could have brought his loaded handgun to Times Square.
There is a serious trend toward states letting their residents carry concealed weapons with no more background check than you need to carry a concealed nutcracker. All of this is based on the gun rights lobby’s argument that the more armed law-abiding people we have on our streets, the safer everybody will be. Under this line of thinking, George Zimmerman’s gated community was safer because Zimmerman was driving around with his legal gun. You can bet that future Trayvon Martins who go to the store to buy Skittles after dark will seriously consider increasing their own safety by packing heat. The next confrontation along these lines may well involve a pair of legally armed individuals, legally responding to perceived, albeit nonexistent, threats by sending a bullet through somebody’s living room window and hitting a senior citizen watching the evening weather report.
The Violence Policy Center has a list of 11 police officers and 391 private citizens who have been killed over the last five years by people carrying concealed weapons for which they had a permit. That includes a man in Florida who killed four women, including his estranged wife, in a restaurant in 2010 and another Floridian who opened fire at Thanksgiving, killing four relatives.
You would think all of this would cause states to stop and rethink. But no. And, personally, I’m worn down from arguing. Florida, follow your own star. Arizona, arm your kindergartners. Just stop trying to impose your values on places where the thinking is dramatically different.
Really, just leave us alone. If you don’t like our rules, don’t come here. Is that too much to ask?

When will America wake up to gun violence?

By John J. Donohue, Special to CNN
updated 4:11 PM EDT, Sat July 21, 2012

  • A gunman went on a shooting rampage in a movie theater in Colorado
  • John J. Donohue: Our gun policy is made by the NRA
  • Look to Australia in formulating an effective gun control policy, he says
  • Donohue: The question is, will our country ever unify against gun violence
Editor's note: John J. Donohue is C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith professor of law at Stanford Law School and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
(CNN) -- Last night's shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was a nightmare. Authorities have already arrested a suspect. Four weapons were recovered in the shooting scene, including a shotgun and two handguns. Twelve people have been killed, with many more injured. According to law enforcement officials, the weapons were purchased legally by the suspect in the last six months.
The shooting was senseless. And it makes us think once again about how we can address the horrific problem of gun violence in America.
The first task is conceptual -- can we figure out what will work? The second task is political -- can plausible solutions be implemented legislatively?
John J. Donohue
John J. Donohue
The conceptual problem is immensely difficult, especially in a society that is already as gun-saturated as America is today. The political problem borders on the impossible. Gun policy in this country is made by the National Rifle Association, and no serious effort at gun control can currently get past its veto.
Even when legislation passed during the Clinton years in the form of the Brady bill, requiring background checks at the time of gun purchases, or the assault weapons ban, the NRA succeeded in injecting gaping loopholes into the laws.
Who needs to go through a background check at Walmart when you can get your gun without one at the local gun show or from some shady figure on a street corner?
The assault weapon ban only prohibited the manufacture of new guns (it grandfathered in a huge cache of pre-existing weapons) and gun manufacturers easily redesigned their guns to circumvent the ban. The NRA then trumpets how "gun control" doesn't work.
But it can.

Listen to theater shooting 911 calls
Hear events as they occur during the first 30 minutes of the shooting  at the 'Dark Knight" premiere in Aurora, Colorado

Consider what happened in Australia after a crazed gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996.
The Australian federal government persuaded all states and territories to implement tough new gun control laws. Under the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), firearms legislation was tightened throughout the country. National registration of guns was imposed and it became illegal to hold certain long guns that might be used in mass shootings.
The gun ban was backed up by a mandatory buy-back program that substantially reduced gun possession in Australia.
The effect was that both gun suicides and homicides (as well as total suicides and homicides) fell. Importantly, while there were 13 mass shootings in Australia during the period of 1979--96, there have been none in the sixteen years since.
In 1996, then-Prime Minister John Howard stated that the "whole scheme is designed to reduce the number of guns in the community and make Australia a safer place to live." The Australian attorney general praised the cooperation and responsibility of Australian firearms owners with the gun controls and buy-back, saying, "they have been paid cash for their firearms - giving our nation a welcome Christmas gift by removing unnecessary high-powered firearms from the community. It offers all of us the real chance of a safer festive season and New Year."
Of course, the Australian gun control law in 1997 enjoyed an extremely high level of public support and was not hampered by any domestic gun industry (since Australia did not have any).
Such would not be the case in the United States where pro-gun political views and NRA power create a very different climate. In the wake of another tragic massacre of innocent lives, we should look carefully at the Australian experience to see if the American public will ever rise up as one against gun violence.
Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John J. Donohue.

A Look at Colorado Gun Laws

  Gun violence in the U.S. is simultaneously shocking and commonplace

March 10, 2012
By Jan C. Ting

Here are two typical stories from the inside pages of today's paper, documenting the daily toll of gun violence. In Jacksonville, Florida, a Spanish teacher who had been fired that morning, returned to the office of the head of school, pulled an AK-47 from a guitar case, and killed the head of school and himself. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a gunman opened fire in the lobby of a psychiatric clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center killing one person and wounding seven before being shot to death himself by a police officer.
We've become familiar with these kinds of stories. That's why they appear on the inside pages now. Mentally ill person pulls a gun and kills people. Again. Fired employee returns with a gun and kills his boss. Again.
After the slaughter of 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech in 2007, there was a brief period of consideration of how guns might be kept out of the hands of the mentally ill. But that consideration ended when no practical or even plausible answer could be found consistent with the Second Amendment's constitutional right to own guns.
Even for those who are neither criminals nor mentally ill, people sometimes experience extreme stress, when fired from a job, or when a spouse walks out, or when a home is foreclosed on, or when custody over children is lost, or in a confrontation on the highway or in a bar. If a gun is accessible, the potential for tragedy is heightened.
In 2007 there were 12,632 gun homicides in the U.S. and 17,352 gun suicides. Another 69,863 Americans received non-fatal gunshot wounds. So we're pretty used to gun violence. Of the 44 U.S. presidents, four were assassinated with guns while in office. Other victims of political gun violence include Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and most recently Gabrielle Giffords.
Over 58,000 American military personnel were killed in the War in Vietnam over 20 years from 1955 to 1975. But more than that number of U.S. civilians die from gunshots now every 2 years.
America has a unique affection for guns. I can't think of any other country that has the right to keep and bear arms stated in its constitution. In 2008 the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment to the Constitution as securing the right of Americans as individuals to own firearms.
So it's good that we're used to hearing about gun violence, because there's surely going to be more in the days, months, and years ahead.

The Psychogeography of Gun Violence

By Richard Florida

Jan 12 2011, 10:45 AM ET 6
The mass shootings in Tucson over the weekend led to all sorts of exercises in arm-chair psychology. The media was quick to portray the shooter Jared Lee Loughner as unhinged and paranoid, digging up his Internet ravings and probing former friends and classmates for detailed testimonials of his bizarre statements and aggressive behavior. And, following its polarization meme, we were subjected to endless accounts of how America's heated and "vitriolic" political climate helped to trigger such action.
But what can psychology tell us about the specific ways that regional, locational, and geographic factors can affect gun violence and mass shootings in particular?
I was surprised by what I found out when I asked my colleague Jason Rentfrow, the distinguished social psychologist at Cambridge University, about this. While some continue to attribute gun violence and mass shootings to hot climates in the U.S. and elsewhere -- "Living in a hot and uncomfortable climate makes people irritable and rates of violence go up," Rentfrow summarizes -- the preponderance of studies focus on a "culture of honor" that is especially pervasive in Southern and Western states. This is something that pundits and commentators need to take a good deal more seriously because, if it is correct, and a considerable body of research suggests that it is, it suggests that deep-seated regional and cultural factors play a substantial role in mass violence.
The classic study of the subject is by Richard Nisbett, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan. In his paper "Violence and Regional Culture," published in the American Psychologist in 1993, Nisbett examined the higher rate of violence in the U.S. south, which he notes has been established since the time of revolution. After considering possible explanations having to do with poverty, slavery, and even the region's hotter climate, he found a different answer in a cultural vestige of pastoralism: a deep "culture of honor" in which residents place an extraordinary value on personal reputation, family, and property. Threats to these things provoke aggressive reactions, leading to higher rates of murder and domestic violence. Here is how Nisbett himself explains it:
Southerners do not endorse violence in the abstract more than do Northerners, nor do they endorse violence in all specific forms of circumstances. Rather, they are more likely to endorse violence as an appropriate response to insults, as a means of self protection, and as a socialization tool in training children. This is the characteristic cultural pattern of herding societies the world over. Consistent with the culture-of-honor interpretation, it is argument-related and not felony-related homicide that is more common in the South...
There is another sense in which the culture of honor might turn out to be self-sustaining or even capable of expanding into mainstream culture. The culture is a variant of warrior culture the world over, and its independent invention countless times (Gilmore, 1990), combined with the regularities in its themes having to do with glorification of masculine attributes, suggests that it may be a particularly alluring stance that may  be capable of becoming functionally autonomous. Many observers (e.g., Naipaul, 1989; Shattuck, 1989) have noted that contemporary Southern backcountry culture, including music, dress, and social  stance, is spreading beyond its original geographical confines and becoming a part of the fabric of rural, and even urban, working-class America.
Perhaps for the young males who adopt it, this culture provides a romantic veneer to everyday existence. If so, it is distinctly possible that the violence characteristic of this culture is also spreading beyond its confines. An understanding of the culture  and its darker side would thus remain important for the foreseeable future.
Rentfrow also pointed me to a more recent study by Ryan P. Brown, Lindsey Osterman, and Collin  Barnes of the University of Oklahoma, published in Psychological Science in 2009, which reinforces Nisbett's findings and suggests that the culture of honor plays a particularly significant role in high school violence. The study found that the culture of honor to be significantly associated with two indices of school violence: the percentage of high school students who reported having brought a weapon to school during the past month; and the prevalence of actual school shootings over a 20 year period. The authors summarize their key findings this way:
Some researchers have suggested that the apparent relationship between general acts of violence and the culture of honor in the United States might be at least partially explained by demographic differences between Southern and Western states, on the one hand, and Northern and Eastern states, on the other, rather than being a product of cultural differences (Anderson & Anderson, 1996). Indeed, culture-of-honor states are typically hotter, more rural, and poorer than non-culture-of-honor states, and any of these differences might explain the link between culture of honor and violence.
However, the state-level demographic variables that we examined--  which included temperature, rurality, social composition, and indices of economic and social insecurity--were unable to account for the association between culture of honor and our school-violence indicators, and also were inconsistent predictors of the school-violence variables across the two studies. This marks an important difference between these indicators of school violence and more general indicators of violent crime among adults, which typically show stronger and more consistent associations with temperature, rurality, and environmental-insecurity measures similar to the ones we used (Anderson, 1989; Baron & Straus, 1988; Cohen, 1996; Lee, Bankston, Hayes, & Thomas, 2007).
This difference suggests that school violence is a somewhat  distinct form of aggression that should not be viewed through  standard lenses. That the culture of honor appears to be such a robust predictor of school violence supports the hypothesis that school violence might be partially a product of long-term or recent experiences of social marginalization, humiliation,  rejection, or bullying (Leary et al., 2003; Newman et al., 2005),   all of which represent honor threats with special significance to  people (particularly males) living in culture-of-honor states.
I am amazed how well this explanation seems to fit the emerging facts and context of the mass violence in Tucson. I don't mean the obvious fact that the shooting happened in a Sunbelt city -- Tucson is a sophisticated college town, not the sort of rural backwater Nisbett had in mind. It is the nature of the culture of honor itself  and the way it acts on and through marginalized young males, just like Loughner. The culture of honor, as Nisbett describes it, sees violence as an "appropriate response to insults" and as "a means of self-protection."
Numerous media reports note that Loughner grew more obsessed with Congresswoman Giffords after he felt she did not give him a respectful answer to the question he asked her at an earlier forum. Then there are the results of the University of Oklahoma study which finds the culture of honor to be a particularly robust predictor of high school violence, especially among young males who have been marginalized, bullied, rejected, or faced other "honor threats." And, Nisbett's some two-decades-old warning that the culture of honor is not something that is necessarily geographically bounded but seems to spreading into broader aspects of young male working-class enclaves in both urban and rural communities is as prescient as it is chilling.
My next post will cover the social, economic, political, and cultural as well as psychological factors that are associated with gun violence and firearm deaths across the 50 U.S. states.