aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Why people kill

At the Writers Police Academy in North Carolina, I attended a really interesting lecture by William Lanning called Why People Kill. (He is a criminal justice instructor, who oddly seems to share his name with a MMA fighter, a New Jersey lawyer, and a Florida sexual offender, among others.) I could have listened to his drawling voice for a long time. He had some nice turns of phrase, including: “He’s getting ready to snap like a dry twig.” and “Don’t that make you want to bite a frozen biscuit?”

He told the group, “There is not a person in this room who is incapable of committing murder.” Given the right circumstances, we will all kill to defend ourselves or a child. The vast majority of murders are committed by people who, until the day they kill, seem perfectly normal. Killing is fundamentally in our nature.

Murder is used to
- solve problems
- relieve stress
- demonstrate our power over others
- raise our social status (make you something when you were nothing)

Some of theories about why people become killers:
- Labeling. Call you a delinquent or a brat long enough, you’ll grow to become one.
- Substance abuse.
- Establishing a power base.
- Normlessness. When an individual fails to allow society’s rules to apply to them.

Facts about murder:
- 70 percent of murders happen when people are arguing and there is alcohol. 2 out of 3 times the guy who starts the fight is the one who dies.
- Of the 3122 women murdered in 2009, more than 1,000 died as the result of domestic violence.
- Over half of murdered children are killed by a babysitter, caregiver, or family member. “For years, abuse in children was called discipline. North Carolina for a long time did not have felony child abuse - no matter how bad it was, it was a misdemeanor.”
- At one point, the FBI said there were 20-80 active serial killers operating in the United States at any one time. The statement caused an uproar, and then they backed off.

Suggested for further reading: David Buss, The Murderer Next Door: why the mind is designed to kill.

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Tags: murder
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