Every time, it’s the same.
Innocent people are shot and killed in a senseless act of violence. Uvalde. Buffalo. Parkland. El Paso. Newtown. Blacksburg. Orlando. Las Vegas. Before the blood is dry and victims are identified, politicians on one side of the gun debate rush to microphones, urging implementation of possibly unconstitutional new firearm restrictions that may or may not have prevented the barbarity that just transpired. Their opponents, meanwhile, have sweeping thoughts on every aspect of the massacre—except the weapon with which it was committed. In Uvalde, they seem to have settled on the school having too many doors.
The public debates are now mind-numbing and infuriating. Partisans oversimplify the issue and strip it of all context. Everyone involved performs their perceived role in 30-second cable news soundbites, for as many days as it takes news crews to pack up and leave the small town that will never be the same—a town that will become only an afterthought when another community joins its unenviable club.
But some people consider these crimes far longer than three days at a time. Some people study them. Dr. Adam Lankford is one of those people. A professor of criminology at the University of Alabama, Lankford began his career studying how ordinary people are manipulated into violence by Islamic terror groups and authoritarian and fascist regimes. In recent years, he’s shifted his focus to people who are manipulated into violence by their own, warped minds.