While incidents like the one at UCF – particularly in the context of other recent shootings – can lead to talk of an epidemic, it’s also important to keep the threat level in perspective, says Jack Levin, a criminology professor at Northeastern University who has done research on mass killers.
“The college campus is still the safest location in our society,” says Professor Levin, noting that there are fewer acts of violence – and fewer rampage shootings – there than anywhere else.
Still, he says, it’s very possible that heightened discussion of these incidents can spark copycats – one reason there is sometimes a string of similar shootings, as with the school shootings in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as students took inspiration from others and sought notoriety.
And, like Kiss and Mr. Trump, Levin notes that early interventions usually offer the best chance for preventing a shooting from taking place.
“There are warning signs, but the problem is that we wait until a student is troublesome, we wait until he wants to kill, before we intervene, and then it’s too late,” says Levin. “We should be intervening early on, when a student is not yet dangerous, not troublesome but troubled.”