Various forms of mass violence plague the United States and countries around the world, and all require critical scholarship aimed at understanding their root causes and prevalence. Moreover, this type of research requires an understanding of the specific nuances of these issues to better inform policy and work towards prevention efforts. As researchers in this area, we, like others, have experienced challenges in getting our research published. Even more, while there are many researchers and practitioners working in this space, our efforts may lack cohesion due to the absence of a dedicated resource through which to publish our work. These obstacles highlighted the importance and demand for an outlet that can speak to and enhance the research and the conversation about mass violence in all forms. Recognizing this need, the idea of the Journal of Mass Violence Research (JMVR) was born in October 2020 and the journal was officially launched the following month.
Welcome to the Journal of Mass Violence Research
The Journal of Mass Violence Research (JMVR) aims to share rigorous, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed studies related to different facets of mass violence in the U.S. and beyond. With a focus on public research and accessibility, JMVR seeks to promote high-quality scholarship and authors, disseminate findings via articles, videos, and infographics, and generate academic and public interest in this important research area.
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In recent years, media attention has increasingly focused on sensationalized forms of mass murder across the United States, thereby diverting attention on the most frequent typology of mass murder events: family mass murders. The current study addresses limitations within this body of work and provides an analysis of demographic and case characteristics associated with distinct family mass murder offender types. The current study utilizes the USA Today database, Behind the Bloodshed, and public news articles to assess 163 family mass murder incidents that occurred from 2006 to 2017. Using this database, which defines mass murder as the killing of four or more victims excluding the offender, there were an average of 14 family mass murders annually, most often committed by a current or former intimate male partner using a firearm as the weapon of choice. Additional case characteristics were examined and revealed significant differences based on the gender of the offender as well as by victim-offender relationship type. Recommendations for future research include examining the impact of gun violence prevention responses in domestic violence cases and providing a comparative study of two and three victim counts to better inform law, policy, and the public about what is often hidden away as a private family matter.
Perpetrators of mass homicides have often been believed to have experienced certain events in their childhoods that may have led to their crimes. Among the issues that were considered in this study were childhood trauma, which included abuse history, and history of childhood bullying. Another issue that was examined was whether they played violent video games as a child. Exposure to these variables were compared between a sample of 169 male firearm mass homicide perpetrators and preexisting research samples of the same age and gender who had not committed mass murders. Analyses were preregistered. Hypotheses that were tested included whether mass homicide perpetrators had experienced more childhood abuse, more childhood bullying or played more violent video games compared to matched samples. Results suggest that mass homicide perpetrators had experienced more abuse than other individuals, but not bullying. By contrast, mass homicide perpetrators had played fewer violent video games than had matched samples. These results seem to match previous data on mass homicide perpetrators.
Mass violence is a growing concern across the United States and around the world, and it affects millions of lives. The editors and the editorial board understand the importance of using a multidisciplinary, research-focused approach to define and measure the problem, identify and evaluate prevention and intervention efforts, and expand the body of knowledge to ultimately inform policies and programs related to mass violence.
The editors and editorial board of JMVR recognize that the issue of mass violence is one that spans many disciplines, including criminology and criminal justice, public health, sociology, psychology, and more. By offering a variety of perspectives and methodological approaches, we envision the journal to be one that provides a comprehensive framework through which to understand the problem of the mass violence. The journal is unique in that it addresses the many facets of mass violence in addition to perpetration, such as the victimization perspective, individual or societal effects, law enforcement responses, prevention efforts, and more.
To do this, JMVR also aims to address current conditions and practices that often stifle the sharing of information and research findings. Rather than paywalling research that has meaningful implications for practice, the journal provides full open-access free of charge to authors and readers. Additionally, the focus on public research encourages authors to produce easily digestible summaries of the studies in the form of infographics or short videos. This allows for the open sharing of research with the public, the media, policymakers, and practitioners to generate conversation and interest with the common goal of reducing and preventing instances of mass violence.
Driven by our Guiding Principles, the journal intends to re-envision the submission and production process, offering productive reviews, providing timely decisions to authors, and ensuring linguistic and intellectual access to findings all while still ensuring that all research is vetted through a rigorous review process. Additionally, we aim to create a culture of inclusivity and diversity, especially supporting and promoting early career researchers and authors, LGBTQ+ scholars, women, and scholars of color. We believe that these practices and principles will allow for the promotion of science in a time when it is desperately needed and address one of the most profound, tragic problems in our society.