It is a cliché we use whenever there is a mass homicide.
"Let me guess, the shooter was a loner."
It's meant as a kind of cynical quip or joke. But, no one is laughing - or really saying it for a laugh. It is just a response - burped out in emptiness, resignation and hurt. Something to fill the silence.
But there is an issue there, because we are creating more loners.
There are almost a half billion guns in the US. If we manufacture a million more, it might not make any difference at all. On the other hand, if we manufacture even one more homicidal maniac, that certainly will.
First, let's be clear. Leftists want to blame violence on guns or society. Wrong. Any individual act of violence is the responsibility of the person who committed it (Principles #2 and #3).
But, that doesn't absolve us from looking at root causes.
Obviously, the internet encourages loners. Young people (the ones likely to commit mass shootings) are immersed in social media. Social media addicts thirst for attention.* One of the easiest ways to get that attention is vitriol or snark. Like the playgrounds of old, that means you end up as either the bully or the bullied.
One way for the bullied to "turn the tables" is to escalate to physical violence. You may not be able to hurt the people actually harassing you online, but you can hurt someone. And your notoriety will leapfrog your tormentors'. "Let's Livestream this." If you go far enough, your pain (you think) will be relieved through suicide-by-cop.
Unfortunately, that's how adolescent minds can work. Especially, when they are allowed to careen out of control on their own, without guidance.
Young people used to have a network of adults they could depend on. We used to have more two-parent families, with an involved father. We used to have schools that partnered with parents, rather than undermining them.
That partnership used to provide a confident, united front that provided kids guard rails and security. Now, the government schools pull their students into an abyss of uncertainty, where parents are questioned, gender is questioned, even objective truth is questioned. Black students are taught hopelessness and white students are taught guilt.
One of the many stupid fads in education is "student empowerment" - asking the child what to study, what the answers are, and even whether they are a boy or a girl. News flash: that does not create comfort and security for the vast majority of children. There should be a father and a mother and a youth leader and several teachers in his/her life, partnering together to say, "we know this isn't easy, but we got this. We've been there, done that. We know the path through this. Come on, put down your phone, and we will show you the way through it together."
Instead, there is no father or youth leader. There is only a heroic** but frazzled single mother or grandmother and a teacher or two. And, to the extent they get a chance to communicate with the kid at all, they are saying, "I dunno. What do you think?"
Needless to say, the random and chaotic way schools handled the pandemic also created more loners. One can't help but wonder if more children will die because of the mental health impact of the lockdowns than would have died of COVID-19 had schools remained open (read up on excess mortality rates in Sweden, for example). In the current political environment, the inevitable suicides and homicides triggered by the COVID-19 isolation will be attributed to "guns."
One specific thing we learned during the school closures was that many teachers and their unions were not, by any means, putting student's education or mental health first. (here is where I am supposed to insert an obligatory comment that "many teachers are awesome"***). Point being: the government schools are not the answer for preventing loners. More the opposite.
The FOAD - Father of All Deterrents
Here's another potential factor I have not heard anyone explicitly mention:
Back in the day, a large percentage of Americans had religious beliefs, whether they were Protestant or Catholic or Jewish or some other faith. In 1950, 70% of Americans belonged to a church. For today's young people, that number is in the 30% range, at best.
Let's be clear. Even in the 1950's, a significant portion of America did not believe in God or an after-life. And whether then or now, just because you belong to a church doesn't mean you might not have doubts about either.
But, a few decades ago the American ethos was that there is a God. And He said murder is wrong. And He is watching. And you will have to answer to Him, even after you're dead.
If you considered shooting at people for your own amusement, as certainly some did even back then, I can't help but think there was at least a hesitance. You might not have firmly believed in Judgment Day - but you might have at least worried about it.
Today, that's gone. The disturbed mind of The Loner thinks, "shooting some people would be fun. What's the worst that can happen [to me]? The emotional pain I'm in right now will be gone. I'll be gone - but in a climactic blaze of glory! The end. Role credits." There is no conscience. There is no healthy fear of the damnation they deserve. No real ultimate justice.
Effectively, from their confused perspective, they can get away with it.
*in lieu of actual relationships
**Remember: heroism requires a bad situation that should not exist
*** some teachers really are awesome - and are heroes themselves