Is there any scientific research on why this is so? I got this statistic from an article titled "Why Are Almost All Mass Shooters Men?" on The Violence Project.

However, their reasoning for the "why" is, in my opinion, not at all concrete.

  • $\begingroup$ It would be useful to check if the same gender pattern holds true for other countries, as well. $\endgroup$
    – drabsv
    Nov 19, 2022 at 19:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Males ae more likely to commit violent crime in general. by almost 3:1 and Homicide are overwhelmingly commited by males, statista.com/statistics/251886/… why do you think mass homicide should be any different? $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 26, 2022 at 3:31

3 Answers 3


The Violence Project does hold statistics on this, as you found. If you search for why most shooters are men, you'd get something like this:

"Men just are generally more violent," said the group's president, Jillian Peterson, a forensic psychologist and professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline University. "There are many theories as to why that is."

As NPR has reported, researchers say that men, more than women, tend to externalize their problems and look for others to blame, which can translate into anger and violence. And when women do choose violence, guns are not typically their weapon of choice.

Therefore, to investigate why this is so, you will find research on male socialization useful, specifically on its effect on how anger is expressed, and so on. I found a few related research papers: [1], [2], [3]. Basically, what you want to find is the research that backs up the above statement.

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    – Troy
    Dec 8, 2022 at 12:59

Here is another possibly helpful answer. If you look at shame research the situations that cause one to feel shame and the negative responses to shame differ largely by gender. My sources on shame are Brene Brown ("Men, Women and Worthiness: The experience of shame and the power of being enough" should suffice). Men feel shame when we feel weak, useless, or ineffective; while for women the emotion comes about when one is unable to meet a large net of mutually competing expectations. Moreover, when men feel shame and do not display resilience we largely react with aggression. Women are more likely to react by withdrawling or people pleasing. These types of negative reactions are referred to by Brene Brown as "shame screens".

One of the major demographics in shootings are "incels", and the other are domestic terrorists (see https://womenspolicy.sccgov.org/sites/g/files/exjcpb1076/files/Ruth%20Darlene_Presentation%20Slides.pdf for information about the incel threat, along with stories like https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/us/mass-shootings-misogyny-dayton.html from the Times and https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/06/03/why-so-many-mass-shooters-young-angry-men/ in the Post). Incels are primarily men who are having trouble with their romantic relationships and react with a large violent shame screen of a shooting. Because the constructs around the emotion of shame primarily evoke aggression in men, we make up almost all of these individuals.

Moreover, gender constructs around aggression and anger disincentivize women from acting aggressively while they incentivize men to. As a result, most domestic terrorists are also male.

I want to be clear in saying that neither domestic terrorism or incel violence are the work of mental illness. Even in schizophrenia, which has been heavily demonized, violence only increases 1% when one normalizes for other factors influencing violence in collecting statistics (this was in a Harvard study that I cannot find). However, mentally ill people are 10 times more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators (see https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts). Also, while the Secret Service report linked above displays that 2/3 of individuals have "mental health symptoms" that does not mean that they have a diagnosis in the DSMIV or DSMV or that a psychiatric professional would diagnose them with a diagnosis after observing them.

In short, when it comes to shooting and violence, many culture's gender norms make it so primarily men are the perpetrators.


I think you have to look at the larger picture of gender and violence. Men appear more competitive than women. It seems that just about anything can become a competition. They seem more concerned with pride and proving themselves, and seem to have more of a tendency towards dominance They start almost all the wars. They are the rapists. Even in junior high, you don’t see girls dunking each other’s heads in the toilets. Males have quite a range of violent behavior and need for dominance. You do see women verbally arguing with each other, and on rare occasions fighting which rarely ends in serious physical danger or murder. You do see women caring for children and their elderly relatives, and very aware of their needs more than you see this in men. Carol Gilligan, a Harvard professor wrote about the gender difference as justice versus care, where men seek justice. So each has a role in preserving and protecting society, Ironically, men may seek justice through the violence of war. Men’s violence is more excused. Concepts like boys will be boys, football, wrestling, and “taking it outside“ allow men sanctioned violence. It seems when we say our society is or has become more violent, we tend to blame that violence on all of society, rather than noting that it is men who take assault weapons into crowds and murder large numbers of people in malls, schools and churches. The serial killers seem to be men. It looks like there is a genetic component, a socialization component, and a society willing to attribute men’s violence to the whole society, rather than focusing on that specific group, so it might be more properly addressed. The same genetics that lead men to be destructive, seem to often lead them to be heroic. There are many men who rush into burning buildings and hostage situations. Maybe women have fewer opportunities, as they are not often firefighters or police officers,

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    $\begingroup$ There seems to be a little over-generalisation going on and some gender bias here. Most men don't arm up and commit mass shootings. Most men don't rape, and some women are known to be sexually violent. Even Carol Gilligan, who you referred to, points out that men and women use both moral orientations jstor.org/stable/23086381. Where men can seem more physically violent, women are known, quite often, to be extremely violent verbally, which can be just as damaging through mental pathways leading to suicidal ideation in their victims (see e.g. doi.org/10.1136/adc.2008.143156) $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2022 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ "Sticks and stone will break our bones", but words, too, can damage and hurt. They can kill the spirit, doing far more harm than sticks and stones ever could. Have you also considered the social contract with men that they must protect women and girls being that they are "the weaker sex"? $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2022 at 5:06

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