Advancing responses to mass shootings using a routine activity approach
In the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, such as those in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas, there is continued demand for policy responses to such tragedies. Often, these responses are rooted in emotion rather than empirical evidence and a strong theoretical foundation. As a result, there is little progress toward prevention, and the same dialogue is revisited with each new event. In this paper, we propose that Cohen and Felson’s (Am Sociol Rev 44(4):588–608, 1979) routine activity theory can be used as a framework for developing evidence-based responses to mass shootings. Specifically, by considering mass shootings as a function of the theory’s three key elements (motivated offenders, suitable targets, and capable guardianship), we consider how this theory, which overcomes many of the challenges found with typical responses to mass shootings, can be used to develop effective policies.
KeywordsMass shootings School shootings Routine activity theory Crime prevention Violence prevention
The authors wish to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on this manuscript.
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