Just Your Typical Would-Be Assassin: Jared Loughner Fits the Profile of a Killer-But Not in the Way You Might Think

By Bailey, Ronald | Reason, April 2011 | Go to article overview

Just Your Typical Would-Be Assassin: Jared Loughner Fits the Profile of a Killer-But Not in the Way You Might Think


Bailey, Ronald, Reason


IN 1999 the forensic psychologist Robert Fein and Bryan Vossekuil, then the head of the Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center, published a comprehensive study of the 83 known individuals who had plotted or carried out attacks on American public officials and figures. "Students of assassination in the U.S. have generally seen assassins and attackers of political leaders either as possessing 'political' motives or as being 'deranged,'" they wrote in the study, which was published by the Journal of Forensic Sciences. "This is a narrow and inaccurate view of assassination.... There is no profile of an American assassin."

Yet the Tucson attacker, Jared Lee Loughner, is pretty typical. Of the 83 attackers covered by the study, 71 were male, 63 were white, 41 had never married, 47 had no children, about half had some college education, and about half were unemployed at the time of their attacks--all characteristics shared by Loughner. "Almost all subjects had histories of grievances and resentments" noted Fein and Vossekuil.

The researchers found that "fewer than a tenth of subjects who acted alone were involved with militant or radical organizations at the time of their attack" Instead they sought notoriety, revenge for perceived wrongs, death at the hands of law enforcement, attention to a perceived problem, rescue of the country or the world, or a special relationship with the target. Less than a quarter of the attackers developed escape plans. More than a third wished or expected to die during their attacks.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

More specifically political grievances do sometimes play a role in assaults on political figures. "More than a fourth had a history of interest in militant or radical organizations and beliefs," the study found. Radical left-wing views motivated presidential attackers Lee Harvey Oswald and Sara Jane Moore, while right-wing ideology inspired members of the terrorist group The Order to kill liberal talk radio host Alan Berg in 1984. Although Loughner has a digital trail of fringe views, it isn't established that any of them motivated the attack.

Diagnosed mental illness isn't a good indicator of who might become an assassin either. Fein and Vossekuil found that "fewer than haft of American assassins, attackers, and near-lethal approachers since 1949 who chose public officials or figures as their primary targets exhibited symptoms of mental illness at the time of their attacks or near-lethal approaches." Not surprisingly, the more mentally disorganized an attacker, the less likely his attack was to succeed.

Forty-six of the attackers and would-be attackers had been evaluated by a mental health professional at some point in their lives, but only 16 had been treated for mental health problems in the year prior to their attacks. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Just Your Typical Would-Be Assassin: Jared Loughner Fits the Profile of a Killer-But Not in the Way You Might Think
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.