Garbologists find roots of modern waste by digging through Victorian-Era garbage

In the Victorian Era, the civilization made a permanent shift towards a throwaway society, and the production of waste only began to increase from this point in the timeline

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Victorian era Mineral bottles. Image source: Tom Licence
  • Garbology is the “study of a culture or community by analysis of its waste”
  • The Museum of Brands in Notting Hill, West London boasts a collection of 12,000 unique items like cartons, boxes, paper cups tins etc
  • The Victorian era also marked the rise of the packaging industry

East Anglia, a rural area north of London, became a place of historical interest for Tom Licence and his research team, What East Anglia Threw Away, early 2016, when a scavenging streak for Victorian Era trash gripped their minds. “We’re aware that there’s a dump close to the cottage, and that’s part of our interest, but also we’ve set up a little history group, and we’ve been working on the history of Castle Rising ever since”, says Sylvia Cooke, who came to East Anglia about 14 years ago.

“We are pioneering garbologists”, says Tom Licence with a friendly laugh. Garbology is the “study of a culture or community by analysis of its waste”. The Victorian Era, which spanned through the years of 1837 till 1901, witnessed a crucial shift of consumer patterns – with an increase in wealth and the Industrial Revolution, the civilization shifted from making things at home to buying them at grocery markets and shops. This era also marked the rise of the packaging industry.

As people began to gain awareness about germs and hygiene, they became distrustful of local vendors and grocers,some of whom added spurious ingredients to increase the weight of the product. A packaged product guaranteed it hadn’t been tampered with, and hence more trustworthy. Moreover, it also ensured that the manufacturers were able to design and control their own brand. The means of packaging then involved bottles and tins, or small containers which couldn’t be reused and hence found their way into what is now called as Victorian Era trash.

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The importance of collecting and preserving garbage from those olden days was cleverly identified by Robert Opie, a social historian, who founded the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill, West London. The museum boasts a collection of 12,000 unique items like cartons, boxes, paper cups tins etc. which documents the progression of brands of some of the world’s most popular companies like Cadbury. The museum assumed a larger space recently to accommodate the growing interest. The colour on these packaging materials dim as war years are approached, The Guardian reports. “It’s a portal into your own past”, Robert Opie says.

Victorian Era
Dundee Marmalade tin containers. Image courtesy: Tom Licence

In the Victorian Era, the civilization made a permanent shift towards a throwaway society, and the production of waste only began to increase from this point in the timeline. Before this time, humans produced next to no waste at all. In large cities like London, there was a systematic disposal of waste, but in the rural areas like East Anglia, it wasn’t economical to supply ash carts to every household, so the people here would dig up pits in nearby areas and bury their waste there. This is one of the primary reasons why Tom Licence and his local volunteers targeted East Anglia.

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Tom Licence also has knowledge of similar findings all over the world. There have been people from California and India who show an interest in Garbology. A worker digging up the Earth for the construction of the Olympic Stadium in Brazil found packaging products that originated all the way from England. Licence believes this was the time when trade flourished, and the human carbon footprint made its stamp on the face of the Earth for the first time in history.

Discoveries made by garbologists in England have helped them analyse the living patterns of the civilizations in the British subcontinent, dating all the way back to the Victorian Era. If similar expeditions were to be carried out in all places over the world, it would help us comprehend a much better understanding of how humans led their lives in respective countries, and that would indeed be interesting to the historian palette.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter:@saurabhbodas96

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  • I coined the word garbology to mean the study of the garbage of the rich and famous but you folks are doing a great job in retro-garbological pioneering. Congratulations!

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Some Interesting Facts About The Language Of Gods: Sanskrit

Read some interesting facts about the oldest language, the language of gods: Sanskrit

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Sanskrit
Sanskrit was considered as ‘DEV BHASHA’ or ‘DEVAVANI. Pixabay

BY AAYUSH

Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages known to mankind It is also believed to be the most systematic and technical language of all. It is also referred to as the mother of all languages and is the only language that is used in holy functions and ceremonies of the Hindus, as it has always been regarded as the sacred language of the religion and gods. Sanskrit mantras, when recited in combination with the sound vibrations, have a specific effect on the mind and the psyche of the individual.

Sanskrit is the vehicle through which we have been fortunate to be gifted with the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagvat Gita, and the two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is the only language that is used in holy functions and ceremonies of the Hindus, as it has always been regarded as the sacred language of the religion. Sanskrit mantras, when recited in combination with the sound vibrations, have a specific effect on the mind and the psyche of the individual.

10 Interesting Facts About the Sanskrit Language

 

Sanskrit language when recited is no less than a beautiful melody is a mystery in itself. Here are 10 interesting facts about the Sanskrit Language.

1. The Language of the Gods

Sanskrit was considered as ‘DEV BHASHA’ or ‘DEVAVANI’, the Language of the Gods by ancient Indians. The script is called DEVNAGARI which means used in the cities of the Gods. It was believed to have been generated by the god Brahma who passed it to the Rishis (sages) living in celestial abodes, who then communicated the same to their earthly disciples from where it spread on earth.

Sanskrit
The Sanskrit language is the oldest language and many other languages are taken from it. Vedicfeed

2. The oldest language in the world

Sanskrit is believed to be one of the oldest languages in the world. The Vedas, the oldest extant texts in any language, were written in Sanskrit.  The earliest form of Sanskrit language was Vedic Sanskrit that came approximately around 1500B.C, a period when knowledge was imparted orally through generations.

3. An innovative language

An old, yet, a highly technical, systematic language of the world. Following research, a report given by the NASA scientist, Rick Briggs, Sanskrit is one of the most suitable languages for computers. It is considered to be very efficient in making algorithms.

4. A language without a default script

Sanskrit did not have a “default” script (like Devanagari- Hindi) until very recently, i.e. less than 200 years back. It was written by everyone in the regional script of their region, in over two dozen scripts. This may make it the language that has been written in the most number of scripts.

Sanskrit culture had a great reluctance towards writing, and this continued for at least a millennium before the first texts were penned. Yet there are as many as 30 million Sanskrit manuscripts with around 7 million manuscripts preserved in India itself. This precisely means that the magnitude of work in Sanskrit surpasses that of Greek and Latin put together!

5. Sanskrit Newspapers and Radios

Sanskrit daily news and newspapers exist even today. It is the language of more than 90 weeklies, fortnightlies, and quarterlies published across India. Gujarat started publishing Vartman Patram and Vishwasya Vrittantam five years back and an all India Radio has been broadcasting daily news in Sanskrit once a day since the year 1974. ‘Sudharma’, the newspaper is published out of Mysore, a historic city in Karnataka, India. It has been running since 1970 and is now available online as an e-paper.

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Even though Sanskrit is old, yet, it is highly technical and systematic. Pixabay

6. Sanskrit speaking hamlets

There are still many villages in India where Sanskrit is still the primary language of communication. The villagers also insist the visitors converse in Sanskrit with them. Banter, greetings, quarrels on the streets, teaching – it’s all in Sanskrit here.

7. A Spiritual Language

The word “Sanskrit’ is a combination of two words – “Sanskar’ and “Krit’; “Krit’ meaning “Inculcating’ and “Sanskar’ meaning “Essence of Moral Values’. Thus Sanskrit means a language that has the capacity to indoctrinate higher values in an individual, the self.

8. A highly versatile language

Sanskrit has the power to say something using the minimum amount of words. There are numerous synonyms for each word each with specific meaning in the language of Sanskrit. For instance, a simple word like the elephant has about a hundred synonyms. English has only one word for love, Sanskrit has 96.

Sanskrit has an amazing wealth of words and synonyms to give great versatility. It has in fact over 70 words for water where English has just got one. Amazingly the Sanskrit language has over 122 words for the action to go each with the specific meaning.

9. The master of Phonetics

Sanskrit is perhaps one of the most accurate languages in pronunciation. It makes use of 49 types of sounds that make pronunciations of different kinds of words very distinct. The attention devoted to the grammar, phonetics, and linguistics in Sanskrit is believed to have been unprecedented until the 20th century.

10. Increases brain power

Sanskrit has also been proven to help in speech therapy. Research suggests that learning the language improves brain functioning and students improve academically; they get better marks in subjects like Mathematics and Science which some people find difficult. It is because Sanskrit enhances memory power and concentration.

Also Read: Revival Of Indian Economy: PM Modi Is Doing His Job, What About Others ?

James Junior School in London has made Sanskrit compulsory. Students of this school are among the toppers in various fields and worldwide exams year after year. Some schools in Ireland also have made Sanskrit compulsory. (VedicFeed)

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Indian Manufacturers Shoulder the Great Responsiblity of Keeping Corona Away as Factories Open

As Indian Industries open Manufactures try to keep corona cases at bay

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Manufacturers tighten safety as industries re-open amidst pandemic. Pixabay.

As consumer electronics and auto manufacturers open their factories with limited operations in various parts of the country, there is great onus on the management teams to keep their premises coronavirus free as one positive case can shut the units once again.

In the US, there have been several corona-positive cases at Amazon warehouses, including four deaths owing to the deadly respiratory disease.

Alarmed at this, Amazon has rolled out more changes at its facilities including enforcing temperature checks and procedures to mandate social distancing.

In India, companies have taken safety measures but they need to be extra cautious as migrant workforce and contract labourers have slowly started coming back, and stringent measures have to be observed to keep the assembly lines and floor operations sanitized and clean.

Samsung which opened its Noida 81 factory last week with limited operations, says employee safety and well-being remain its absolute priority and it has ensured that “all hygiene and social distancing measures are maintained at the premises, as per government guidelines”.

coronavirus
As industries open with limited men, management tasked with keeping corona away. Pixabay

In line with the directive issued by the authorities, OPPO has started operations with 30 per cent of its capacity and as the business gets back to usual in due course of time, the production will be enhanced to full capacity.

“Keeping the safety of its employees and consumers at the forefront, a host of stringent measures have been put in place to practice hygiene and social distancing, both at its manufacturing facility and retail outlets,” the company said in a statement.

Automobile factories and their suppliers have started some operations.

Maruti Suzuki, Hero MotoCorp, Mercedes Benz India, TVS Motor and Isuzu Motors have got the clearance from the state governments to resume limited operations.

In a regulatory filing last week, Maruti Suzuki India said that all operations at its Manesar plant would be carried out in accordance with the government regulations from May 12.

“All activities would be carried out strictly in accordance with the government regulations and guidelines and observing the company’s own concern for the highest standards of safety,” says the auto-maker.

Maruti Suzuki network comprises of 3,086 showrooms across 1,964 towns and cities in the country.

“All of them will abide to the new safety protocols. The opening of showrooms will depend on permission from local authorities,” the company adds.

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Manufacturers worry as industries re-open. Pixabay

Two and three-wheeler major TVS Motor Company has commenced operations in India across all factories in Hosur (Tamil Nadu), Mysuru (Karnataka) and Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh).

“A comprehensive preparedness manual has been designed for employees to ensure complete adherence to necessary safety guidelines to help minimise the spread of the virus,” according to the company.

“At all its manufacturing facilities, the company has undertaken exhaustive measures to ensure safe workplace for employees with appropriate social distancing and highest standards of hygiene,” it states.

Also Read: Trump Universe Comes to A Stalemate

Once the manufacturing resumes across the country, it will be challenging for the consumer electronics and auto companies to steer clear of any corona-positive case, and gradually strengthen their capacities. (IANS)

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Here’s The Full History Of Mass Shooters From U.S.A

Who commits public mass shootings? What motivates them to kill?

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Shooters
Since 1966, there have been 167 mass shootings in the United States, defined by the Congressional Research Service. Pixabay

On the morning of Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a former Marine, stepped out on the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower and aimed his Remington bolt-action rifle at his first victims on the campus below. More than an hour after the shooting began, 15 people were dead and 31 injured. Among those was Claire Wilson, the first target, who was shot in the stomach. Wilson, who was eight months pregnant at the time, lost her unborn child and spent several months recovering in the hospital.

The massacre at the University of Texas at Austin wasn’t the first mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But at the time, it was the deadliest, and marked a turning point in public awareness of mass shootings and shooters in the era of mass media.

On the night of Oct. 1, 2017, businessman Stephen Paddock smashed the windows of his 32nd-floor suite in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and fired his semiautomatic rifle on thousands of people attending an outdoors country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Fifty-eight people were killed and 887 were injured after a massacre that took only 10 minutes.

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Here’s a Graph explaining the cases of mass shootings in U.S. from 1966 – 2019. VOA

Despite a few similarities in Whitman’s and Paddock’s personal backgrounds and modus operandi, the men were as different as night and day.

Whitman was a former altar boy and Eagle Scout in a difficult but devoted marriage. Paddock had no religious or political affiliations, and had married and divorced twice.

But their attacks helped frame a new database of mass shooters that hopes to inform future research and policy decisions about how to effectively prevent and respond to mass shootings.

VOA
Researchers Jillian Peterson and James Densley. (Amanda Jensen | The Violence Project). VOA

The Researchers

Jillian Peterson, Ph.D., and James Densley, Ph.D., built the groundbreaking database on mass shooters.

Densley, a professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, told VOA the idea for the database came about after he and Peterson grew increasingly frustrated with television analyses in the aftermath of mass shootings that offered the simplified theory that the violence was caused either by guns or mental illness. The researchers advocated for more data-driven conversations about the phenomenon.

About the data

All shooters have either been charged, convicted, or killed at the scene.

Densley and Peterson, an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline University in St. Paul, began initial data collection in 2017, prior to the mass shootings in Las Vegas. Following that massacre, they, along with undergraduate volunteers, spent two years collecting more than 100 pieces of information on each of 171 mass shooters, resulting in The Violence Project Database of Mass Shootings in the United States, 1966-2019.

VOA’s report is based upon that research.

The database, the most comprehensive to date, is available at The Violence Project, defined on its website as a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to reducing violence in society and improving related policy and practice through research and analysis.

Mass Shooters (1966 – 2019)

Since 1966, there have been 167 mass shootings in the United States, defined by the Congressional Research Service as “a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms — not including the offender(s) — within one event, and at least some of the murders occurred in a public location or locations in close geographical proximity (e.g., a workplace, school, restaurant, or other public settings), and the murders are not attributable to any other underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstance (armed robbery, criminal competition, insurance fraud, argument, or romantic triangle).”

Put in perspective, mass shootings are statistically rare, accounting for fewer than 1% of all firearm homicides in the United States. But they are occurring regularly in a growing number of venues, leaving a trail of mass destruction that emotionally outweighs their numbers.

According to The Violence Project, nearly all mass shooters have four things in common:

  • Early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age
  • An identifiable grievance or crisis point
  • Have studied the actions of past shooters and seek validation for their methods and motives
  • The means to carry out an attack

The average age for a mass shooter was 34 years old. The youngest was 11 years old, and the oldest was 70.

Mass Shooter
The average age for a mass shooter was 34 years old. The youngest was 11 years old, and the oldest was 70. VOA

Where mass shooters killed

The past decade has seen an increase in mass shootings in a variety of settings. This troubling trend has prompted a debate among proprietors, school administrators and religious leaders about the need to balance openness and inclusiveness with physical security measures.

Current or former workplaces of perpetrators were the most common sites for mass shootings. Most of the shooters had been fired. Densley said a prevention strategy for businesses could include ways for managers to intervene with employees before a tragedy occurs.

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The past decade has seen an increase in mass shootings in a variety of settings. VOA

Almost all of mass shooters at restaurants, bars and retail establishments were strangers to those businesses, while perpetrators in workplaces, houses of worship, and schools and colleges tended to be current or former students and insiders known to the victims.

Densley believes shielding students with bulletproof backpacks and guiding them through lockdown drills, though useful, could also prove ineffectual when nearly all K-12, and college and university shooters are insiders, and likely familiar with the layout of a building and current safety policy.

Multiple profiles

A one-size-fits-all profile of a mass shooter is nonexistent.

Mass shooters have several profiles, unique to where a shooting occurred.

In houses of worship, the perpetrator most often was a white male in his 40s motivated by domestic issues or hate. He had a criminal record and a history of violence, and used handguns or assault rifles he legally owned.

In schools K-12, the mass shooter was a suicidal white male student of the school with a history of trauma. He leaked his premeditated plan before the shooting, and most often used multiple guns stolen from a family member.

By contrast, the typical shooter at a college or university was a suicidal, non-white male student of the institution with a history of childhood trauma. He used handguns legally obtained, and left a video or manifesto detailing his intent.

Densley suggests prevention plans for all of these types of shooters should include domestic violence programs, the disruption of online hate groups and Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as red flag laws. Under these laws, police and family members can petition courts to temporarily remove weapons from people who may present a danger to themselves and others.

Female shooters

Of the 171 mass shooters studied, only three were women. In one case, the woman acted in partnership with a man.

While the difference in numbers between female and male mass shooters is stark, it was represented in all U.S. homicides in which 80% to 90% of offenders in a given year were men.

There are few statistics on female perpetrators of homicide, but those that are available help to explain why women tend not to commit mass shootings.

According to a U.S. Justice Department report that looked at U.S. homicide trends from 1980 to 2008, women who committed murder almost always killed someone they know, and 58% of the time, they killed a significant other or immediate family member, compared to only 18% for male killers. Women committed just 6% of all murders with multiple victims.

The circumstances and means of killing also differed between men and women. Drug- and gang-related killings tended to be committed by men. When women killed, they were less likely to use firearms and more likely to use other means, such as poison or arson, the report said.

Childhood trauma

Thirty-nine percent of mass shooters experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. This includes at least one of the following: physical or sexual abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence in the household, having a parent who committed suicide or being the victim of bullying.

Multiple studies, including one published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2018 found a link between childhood trauma and social, mental and physical problems in adults. Those who have experienced trauma as children were more likely to face a host of difficulties as adults, including having violent relationships, becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol, having a psychiatric disorder and becoming depressed or suicidal.

Research also shows that the more incidents of trauma a child experiences, the greater the possibility for mental or physical problems to arise in adulthood.

Peterson, who began her career as a special investigator in New York City researching the psychosocial life of death row inmates for their sentencing hearings, discovered that many of the inmates had experienced trauma. She developed a saying in the office: “The worse the crime, the worse the story.”

Mental illness

Two-thirds of mass shooters had a history of mental health concerns, which is higher than the 50% of people in the general population who will satisfy criteria for a mental illness at some point in their lives.

Twenty-three percent had a mood disorder, which includes depression or bipolar disorder. This number was also consistent with lifetime prevalence rates among the general population.

Twenty-six percent had a thought disorder, which includes schizophrenia and psychosis, and was significantly higher than the general population.

Twenty-one percent of mass shooters were on psychiatric medication.

The commonality of mental illness between mass shooters is striking, leading some people, including President Donald Trump, to argue that mental illness should be targeted as the main cause of mass shootings.

Densley urged caution in drawing such conclusions.

“Even if you have a mental illness, it doesn’t mean that the mental illness is driving the behavior,” he said. “People with mental illness may also experience living in poverty. They may also experience discrimination. They may also have a whole host of other things going on in their lives, which step-by-step may be contributing to whatever outcome comes next.”

Signs of crisis

Before they carried out their crimes, more than 80% of mass shooters were in crisis, described by The Violence Project as a marked change in behavior that is noticeable to others. Such behavior includes exaggerated emotional responses, an increased interest in violence and signs of hopelessness.

Densley said in many cases, several people had concerns about a mass shooter’s behavior, but those pieces of information were often not connected.

“You have a school teacher that notices something. You have a friend that notices something, a family member, a law enforcement member. But if those individuals are not talking to each other, that information will never get passed on, and no one will ever know,” he said.

Sixty-eight percent of mass shooters were suicidal either before or at the time of the shooting.

Densley said a shooter’s anger is channeled inward and outward.

“Outward is where the homicide comes into play, because they are angry at a certain group of people or they are wanting to put on a show as their last act. But there is also a lot of inward hatred and frustration and confusion, and that is where the suicide comes into play,” he said.

He suggested adressing elements of a mass shooting similarly to how society addresses suicide. In terms of prevention, “it changes the way in which we see these events,” he said.

Immigrant

Fifteen percent of mass shooters were immigrants. But immigrant shooters were more frequent on college and university campuses, where 5% of mass shootings took place.

The Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007, so far the third-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, was carried out by a Korean American immigrant suffering from severe depression.

Densely noted possible underlying grievances and motivations in carrying out such a crime at one’s own school.

“It may well be that non-white immigrants feel very disconnected from university life. They may be suffering from racism or exclusion, may feel alienated. And these, we know, are risk factors for these types of shootings. Beyond it is just the race,” he said.

‘Unusual, irrational thoughts’

Charles Whitman, 25, was an ex-engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin and an expert sharpshooter from his tour in the U.S. Marines. The UT Tower — at one time the tallest building in Austin — offered him a strategic vantage point.

“A person could stand off an army from atop of it before they got him,” he once remarked to a college friend.

Whitman was the eldest of three sons born to an abusive, domineering father and a God-fearing Catholic mother, whom Whitman adored. Hours before the massacre, he stabbed her in the heart and confessed to the murder in a handwritten note.

To Whom It May Concern: I have just taken my mother’s life. I am very upset over having done it. However, I feel that if there is a heaven she is definitely there now. And if there is no life after, I have relieved her of her suffering here on Earth.”

Two hours later, for reasons Whitman admitted he couldn’t “rationally pinpoint,” he killed his wife.

“She has been as fine a wife to me as any man could ever hope to have,” he confessed in a note he left next to her body. … “I don’t know whether it is selfishness, or if I don’t want her to have to face the embarrassment my actions would surely cause her.”

The shootings at UT ended with Whitman’s death, not by the army he envisioned, but by two of three police officers who stormed the tower. Fifty-seven percent of mass shooters die at the scene.

In the suicide note he wrote the day before the shootings, Whitman offered a glimpse of his state of mind.

“I don’t really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I can’t recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts. … I talked to a Doctor once for about two hours and tried to convey to him my fears that I felt come (sic) overwhelming violent impulses. … After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed on me to see if there is any visible physical disorder. I have had some tremendous headaches in the past and have consumed two large bottles of Excedrin in the past three months.”

An autopsy conducted the day after the shootings revealed an aggressive, malignant tumor the size of a pecan on Whitman’s brain. The pathologist who performed the initial examination determined the mass had no bearing on the killings.

But a subsequent autopsy ordered by a state task force found the link between the tumor and Whitman’s actions could “not be established with clarity.”

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a subsequent autopsy ordered by a state task force found the link between the tumor and Whitman’s actions could “not be established with clarity”. VOA

Mystery unsolved

Whatever motive Stephen Paddock had to kill and injure hundreds of concertgoers in Las Vegas, he took it to his grave.

The 64-year-old loner did not leave a suicide note, video or manifesto, as 23% of mass shooters do. He killed himself with a gunshot in the mouth as police, security guards and a SWAT team charged into his room. Thirty-eight percent of mass shooters die by their own hand.

Paddock was the eldest of four sons. His father, self-described as a “third-time loser,” was a cunning thief, con man and fugitive who spent eight years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Paddock’s mother was a secretary.

In high school, Paddock was considered a “brainy” student. He graduated college with a degree in business administration.

He was a licensed pilot, savvy real estate investor and a high-stakes gambler, spending more time playing video poker in casinos than in the houses he owned, one of which he paid for in cash. Before the Las Vegas shootings, a minor traffic citation was his only known run-in with the law.

The last known communications Paddock had with his family was a text message to his brother Eric inquiring about their 90-year-old mother in Orlando. Hurricane Irma had ripped through her neighborhood, knocking out the power. Paddock followed up with a phone call to her. Two weeks later, he was dead.

Though Paddock was reported to have suffered with bouts of depression linked to financial losses, toxicology reports and a complete autopsy showed anti-anxiety medication in his system, evidence of hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and no indication of dementia. None of the findings solved the mystery of his motive.

In its final report after a nearly 16-month investigation, the FBI concluded that Paddock’s attack was premeditated, that he had acted alone, and was “influenced by the memory of his father” to “attain a certain degree of infamy.”

“Throughout his life, Paddock went to great lengths to keep his thoughts private, and that extended to his final thinking about this mass murder,” the report said.

Comparing the shooter data

Determining why people became mass shooters required a new set of research and data that went beyond basic trends, descriptors and demographics, and broad definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting.

To compile the database for The Violence Project, Peterson and Densley narrowed the definition and broadened the focus on mass shootings and shooters. Where past studies relied on data collected in five-year intervals or only in high-profile cases, their research covered a 53-year span, closely examining variables including age, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, education, relationship status, number of children, employment type and status, military service and branch, criminal, violence and abuse history, gang and terrorist affiliation, bullying, home environment and trauma.

What emerged were fleshed-out profiles and motivations of individual shooters, whose crimes can potentially influence current and future policy and prevention.

How mass shooters got their guns

Almost half of all mass shooters acquired at least some of their guns legally through a licensed dealer, unregulated private sale or other legal means.

Charles Whitman and Stephen Paddock amassed their arsenals legally. For his rampage, Whitman, a firearms enthusiast, had seven weapons and 700 rounds of ammunition, including three rifles and a sawed-off shotgun. His purchases were made at a hardware store, a gun shop and at Sears.

VOA
How mass shooters got their guns. VOA

Paddock had 23 weapons in his Mandalay Bay suite and nearly 1,400 rounds of ammunition. At least 12 of his guns were equipped with bump stocks, which enabled him to shoot more people in minutes than Whitman had in an hour.

Types of guns used

Handguns are present in over three-fourths of all mass shootings.

Records show Paddock made purchases in Nevada, California, Texas and Utah. A month before the shootings, he bought tracer ammunition — designed to illuminate a bullet’s trajectory — from a private seller at a gun show in Phoenix.

Densley, the researcher, questions whether legally purchased weapons used in some mass shootings should have been allowed, despite laws that permit access. He points to cracks in the background check process.

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Handguns are present in over three-fourths of all mass shootings. VOA

“We’ve got some individuals who had histories of violence, histories of domestic violence, who somehow got around the background check,” he explained. “We also had examples where the background check process kind of failed. For whatever reason, the data wasn’t inputted into the FBI’s database, and so, it was never flagged. … There are still a lot of gray areas, things that we need to be looking at.”

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Total mass shooting fatalities and injuries per year. VOA

Global perspective

Comparison rates of mass shootings committed in the United States and in other countries are difficult to determine because the definition of mass shootings, as well as how homicide data is collected, varies from country to country.

An exception is deaths by firearms.

The United States had the 28th highest rate of deaths from gun violence, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evolution, which tracks deaths in every country by all possible causes. Gun violence killed four people per 100,000 in the United States in 2017, greater than most other industrialized countries.

The lowest rates of gun deaths were in Asia. Singapore, Japan and Indonesia reported 2-4 violent gun deaths per 10 million. Several European countries, including Britain and Iceland, were not far behind with 6-7 violent gun deaths per 10 million.

ALSO READ: White House in America Echoes With Recitation of Hindu Vedic “Shanti Paath”

Countries where death by gun violence was worse than the United States included those in Central America and the Caribbean. El Salvador had 43 violent gun deaths per 100,000, according to the data. (VOA)