Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Karen T Van Gundy

Second Advisor

Cliff Brown

Third Advisor

Rebecca Glauber


Public rampage shootings like Parkland, FL, the Las Vegas concert shooting, and Sandy Hook are a type of crime that captures national attention. As media covers these incidents and the perpetrators of them, they seek to explain why someone would commit such violence. Using active shooter data for incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2019, I examine shooter identity with particular focus on the shooter’s race, an often-unreported statistic. Finding 55.4% of active shooters are white men, interviews with 20 white men and 10 white women are analyzed for explanations for white men’s violence. These men and women describe active shootings as resulting from the combination of white men’s race and gender expectations that produce strain and encourage violence. These combine with fears of lost privilege and status causing what they describe as attempts to rectify perceived injustices that threaten the hegemony of white masculinity. White masculinity is defined by historical violence and social status. Feeling threats to that social status and to white masculinity generally, white men’s last resort in the face of a society that they perceive as unjustly discriminating against them is violence. Violence restores masculinity and is the ultimate form of dominance over others. When society itself is perceived to have harmed them, all members of that society are their enemy.