U.S. Mass Shooters Are Disproportionately Veterans

Are veterans of the U.S. military disproportionately likely to be mass killers in the United States? Asking such a question is difficult, first because of concerns of profiling, discrimination, etc., and second, because it’s hard to answer.

It’s important to answer because it’s important for us to know whether military training is contributing to this epidemic, a fact that (one must rush to say) would not somehow eliminate the roles played by gender, guns, mental illness, domestic violence, a violent culture, the mass media, economic inequality, or anything else.

Looking at this list of mass shootings in the United States, one notices the following:

  • ninety-eight percent of the shootings were done by male shooters;
  • the vast majority had mental health problems;
  • the racial breakdown looks roughly equivalent to that in the population as a whole;
  • the creators of the list have not bothered to create a thorough record of which shooters had been in the military.

Beginning to sort out an answer, one quickly discovers that many mass-killings by veterans have been excluded from this list. World War II veteran Howard Barton Unruh killed 13 people in 1949 in New Jersey, but that was too early to make it onto this list. Persian Gulf veteran Timothy McVeigh killed 168 in Oklahoma City in 1995 but didn’t use guns. Persian Gulf veteran Robert Flores shot his three nursing professors in Tucson, Arizona, in 2002, but only killings of four or more have been included. The same restriction keeps out U.S. Marine Corps veteran Radcliffe Haughton’s killing of three women in Wisconsin in 2012. Even the D.C. sniper, Persian Gulf veteran John Allen Muhammad, who killed 17 in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002, with a partner, and using guns, is not included — perhaps because he didn’t kill all of his victims at once.

Proceeding with this list nonetheless, we should be able to determine what percentage of the shooters on the list are veterans, and then compare that to the general population. But how exactly do we do that? It would be crazy to look at figures for the general population as opposed to those for men only, because the percentages of men and of women who are veterans are very different. And even looking at men only, the percentage who are veterans in the U.S. population varies dramatically by age group. Almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 — by averaging the percentages for each age year — about 14.76 percent of U.S. men are veterans.

What percentage of U.S. mass shooters who are men between 18 and 59 are veterans? Deleting two shootings from the list that were done by females, and one that was done by a man and a woman, and deleting eight done by men too old or young to fall into our sample, we’re left with 83 mass shootings to look at. I then delete one that was an attack on the U.S. military by a foreign-born shooter, as it seems irrelevant to ask if that shooter had been in the U.S. military. That leaves a list of 82 shootings.

In quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, I see that almost all of the shooters were born in the United States. And I am leaving in the sample list those few that were foreign born, even including some who could not legally have joined the U.S. military had they wanted to. And I am not attempting to find out which shooters received military training from some military other than the U.S. I am also leaving on the list those who said their motivation for shooting was revenge for U.S. wars. And I’m leaving on the list but not counting as veterans two men who tried to join the U.S. military and were rejected, as well as one who worked at a U.S. Navy base but apparently not as a member of the Navy. I am leaving on the list and counting one whose military training was in JROTC, and about whom I do not know whether he had further military training.

Following a quick search of 82 shootings on the internet, I’ve been able to find that at least 28 of the shooters had been in the U.S. military (again, including the JROTC in one case). On the other side, I’ve been able to confirm very few of the shooters as having not been in the military. In several cases I’ve had to read several articles before finding a mention of the military. In no case have I found a mention of having not been in the military. This leads me to strongly suspect that the number 28 undercounts the number of veterans in the sample. Nonetheless, that’s 34% of U.S. mass shooters who are military veterans, as compared with 14.76% in the general population for the same gender and age. In other words, veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably more likely than that.

Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive. But here’s what else might be counterproductive: Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society full of economic insecurity and the industrialized world’s leading lack of healthcare.

Of course it’s possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn’t some truth to that. But it’s also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings — and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable — makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn’t truth in that.

Here are the shootings by veterans on this list: Texas First Baptist Church massacre, Florida awning manufacturer shooting, Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, Baton Rouge police shooting, Dallas police shooting, Umpqua Community College shooting, Trestle Trail bridge shooting, Fort Hood shooting 2, Washington Navy Yard shooting, Sikh temple shooting, Seal Beach shooting, Fort Hood massacre, Carthage nursing home shooting, Northern Illinois University shooting, Damageplan show shooting, Wakefield massacre, Caltrans maintenance yard shooting, Fort Lauderdale revenge shooting, Air Force base shooting, Luigi’s shooting, Watkins Glen killings, Royal Oak postal shootings, Luby’s massacre, ESL shooting, United States Postal Service shooting, San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre, Welding shop shooting, Xerox killings.

Here are the shootings on this list that I have not been able to determine were by veterans: Walmart shooting in suburban Denver, Edgewood business park shooting, San Francisco UPS shooting, Pennsylvania supermarket shooting, Rural Ohio nursing home shooting, Fresno downtown shooting, Excel Industries mass shooting, Kalamazoo shooting spree, Planned Parenthood clinic, Colorado Springs shooting rampage, Charleston Church Shooting, Isla Vista mass murder, Hialeah apartment shooting, Santa Monica rampage, Pinewood Village Apartment shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, Accent Signage Systems shooting, Aurora theater shooting, Seattle cafe shooting, Oikos University killings, Su Jung Health Sauna shooting, IHOP shooting, Hartford Beer Distributor shooting, Coffee shop police killings, Atlantis Plastics shooting, Kirkwood City Council shooting, Crandon shooting, Virginia Tech massacre, Amish school shooting, Capitol Hill massacre, Living Church of God shooting, Lockheed Martin shooting, Hotel shooting, Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting, Atlanta day trading spree killings, Connecticut Lottery shooting, R.E. Phelon Company shooting, Walter Rossler Company massacre, Chuck E. Cheese’s killings, Long Island Rail Road massacre, 101 California Street shootings, Lindhurst High School shooting, University of Iowa shooting, GMAC massacre, Standard Gravure shooting, Stockton schoolyard shooting, Shopping centers spree killings, Orlando nightclub massacre, Binghamton shootings, Trolley Square shooting, Dallas nightclub shooting, Tucson shooting, Westroads Mall shooting, Cascade Mall shooting.

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  • WillDippel

    Here is an article that looks at how much both the gun rights and the gun control side of the debate have paid to support both presidential candidates and members of Congress:

    https://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2017/10/gun-rights-vs-gun-control-who-controls.html

    This data explains why, despite the emotional response that occurs after a mass shooting, there is little motivation in Washington to change anything when it comes to gun ownership in the United States.

    • Kimberly


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  • Zack Taylor

    I went into this several times including a somewhat rough study of my own about three years ago; and I’m working on a follow up right now. First of all most of the ones I recognize that you list as inconclusive are almost certainly not veterans including the recent Walmart shooting, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Planned Parenthood at Colorado Springs etc. I often look for activities during prime military age and if it involves non-military activities especially criminal then it is unlikely they’re in the military.

    However there is a real problem although I didn’t focus solely on mass shootings. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has done studies on this based on prison population, which is often used to make veterans look better than they are but a close look at the study indicates major problems and at times it raises as many questions as other studies.

    Veterans are recruited most in the South, where murder rates are highest, at least when it comes to volume, although the highest rates are in North West rural areas. Part of the problem is strict authoritarian upbringing that begins before boot camp indoctrination which makes it even worse. In the South they use corporal punishment much more, even in schools, leading to more obedience to authority and intimidation used to teach people to believe what they’re told about religion or patriotic pro war lies.

    This is a major reason for the South’s higher rates of murder, even in rural areas. Some of these mass shooters have also been rejected by the military or police training academies. In some cases they went through boot camp and didn’t serve. There is good reason to believe that those raised in authoritarian manners are more concerned with controlling others, often through violence.

    Here’s the most detailed article I wrote about this in 2014 with a link to one right before it that shows that states with higher recruitment rates have higher murder rates:

    “Teach a soldier to kill and he just might”

    http://zacherydtaylor.blogspot.com/2014/08/teach-soldier-to-kill-and-he-just-might.html

    A few years ago both the Colorado Gazette and the New York Times did their own reviews, which I cited in these articles, that were far better than the Bureau of Justice Statistics which clearly avoids collecting data in a manner that will expose some of the biggest problems.

    This is a tough subject but the most common victim for veterans that do go on shooting sprees are other veterans or their own families. Some of them are actually the first to recognize it and try to solve it but they often face intimidation from those in denial.

    I’ll cite this in the follow up & let you know when it’s done in the next day or two.

  • ICFubar

    This opens a whole can of worms, that needs opening. The military breaks and remolds its personnel during basic training but is not required to rehabilitate the same for civilian life before discharge from their employ. Why not? There also is the possible nefarious use of ‘damaged’ ex military personnel on a individual basis for the throw away advancement of deep state agenda which creates another sub heading that would very difficult to come to grips with.

    • Joel W

      Little MK-Ultra type situation possibly. And now the Army states the mentally ill are now able to enlist. Hmmmm????

      • ICFubar

        Yes, the thought crossed my mind especially with the naval yard shooting as the shooter had complained of some entity trying to control his mind before he lost personal control.

        • nomadd

          interesting. heres a blog that chronicles false flags and gov operations against us citizens and yet mk ultra or similar psy ops is an after thought in this discussion. what is happening to washingtons blog?

      • nomadd

        exactly. where better to procure subjects than the ranks of the military. these people are under total control of their superiors and conditioned to obey unconditionally. they can be brainwashed and triggered at a designated time.

    • Tabitha


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  • Zack Taylor

    Quite peculiar, you kept the response from Vivian which was obviously spam; but deleted my response which was clearly related to the subject.

    • nomadd

      intersesting. i would certainly like to know what you said.

      • Zack Taylor

        I mentioned that most of the shootings that he considered inconclusive that I looked into were almost certainly not veterans and explained that I went into it more in an article which I cited about three years ago and was working on another which I posted a few hours after commenting yesterday.

        It might have been a little rambling but it was on subject and not that long

        Here’s the article I posted yesterday which explains what I found & is significantly longer.

        http://zacherydtaylor.blogspot.com/2017/11/texas-church-shooting-exposes-cover-up.html

  • Sparticus

    America needs to start thinking about what they are doing to cause these problems. People only react to their environment. If people are becoming militarized it is because they are under attack and fear danger to themselves. All people have fight or Flight mechanisms and the society has become so toxic that it is tripping this mechanism and bringing destruction upon itself.

    Stop blaming the individual and look at the society. None of you are perfect and truthfully there is much to be desired from the population as a whole. I would not wish mankind on my worst enemy. I am not that Sick.

  • Silverado

    I think the report that showed where most if not all of these shooters were either on psychotropic drugs from Big Pharma or had missed their required daily dose, which is more relevant and correct as to who’s on what. So pardon me if I’m a bit…skeptical about vets being the problem at this stage of the game. Which seems an awful lot like a new flavor of the month which deflects from the real culprit(s) (Big Pharma of course) from what I see here.

    • Sparticus

      The human brain cannot be controled by psychotropic drugs. Those who prescribe and administrate them ( the smart ones) know it is all for profit. Faith in a Pill … JESUS, why not just believe in that JESUS thing?

  • Sparticus

    Why complain about shootings in the US, when the US military is bombing cities all over the globe and killing millions of people? How detatched from reality can America be? Truthfully, Americans should be thanking GOD that they have gotten away with so much murder, and murder in the name of PROFIT, because you are all voluntary tax payers; now, all I need for conviction is your patriotism. -John 2:15.