Why Finding a Motive After Mass Shooting Is So Important

It’s like searching for the golden ticket on Willy Wonka

B Kean


Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

“There is no known motive.” We read this over and over. The police are “searching for a motive.”

Like kids racing across early-morning, damp-with-dew front lawns searching for multi-colored Easter eggs, nowadays it seems like everyone is hunting for a motive.

Why did he do it? He did it because he had mind-blowingly easy access to guns.

Why did he enter the dance hall (the theater, the store, the church, the school, etc.) and open fire? He opened fire because he had criminally-easy access to guns. He did it because this is what we do in the United States.

Does it matter what the motive was?

I don’t care what the goddamn motive was because — and I am going to let anyone who hasn’t already figured this out — there is always going to be a motive to act out violently. As long as humans have been dominating all of the other animals around them, man has made it a point to act out violently against his fellow man.

The need to act out violently is not reserved for humans. The animals we so readily dominate knock the hell out of each other from time to time. Have you ever seen a coral reef up close? On a good day, it’s a bloodbath and on an average day, it’s like the scene from Carrie when Sissy Spacek is showered with blood in front of her fellow students. If fish write books, I am sure there is an underworld version of Slaughterhouse-Five floating — literally — around somewhere.

The thing is, and this is just a theory and has never been proven, we humans are supposed to be a wee bit brighter than the finger-nail-sized fish that never strays more than a hundred lengths of its own body from the reef. I am actually pretty sure we are smarter than them; after all, we sent humans to the moon and brought them back — that is a pretty impressive accomplishment.

So while violence is a normal thing and oftentimes occurs in a vacuum, void of a motive, what makes our relationship to violence so tragic is the existence of the gun.

Take away the gun and maybe instead of 11 people dying, the killer in Torrance kills one or two…



B Kean

The past holds the answers to today’s problems. “Be curious, not judgmental,” at least until you have all the facts. Think and stop watching cable news.