Early reports indicate that a shooting on the University of Alabama in Huntsville campus has left three people dead and one wounded, and that an unidentified female is currently in custody.
Sadly, shootings on college campuses have become all too common. In our photo gallery examining the psychology of mass killers, writer Nick Reilly notes the role of violent gun crimes in American culture—and universities have been the backdrop for some of America's most notorious shooting sprees.
But in his research, Reilly also found that women were very rarely the perpetrators of mass shootings.
Women, says [Jack] Levin, [professor] of [sociology at] Northeastern, are more likely to turn their anger inward and commit suicide rather than homicide. When they do turn violent, either against themselves or others, they're less likely to use a gun.
Of course, that doesn't mean women don't and can't commit gun crimes. The most recent high-profile case was the murder-suicide of and football legend Steve McNair. But that crime was still a statistical anomaly, as I discovered when reporting on it:
Homicides by a woman were never large to begin with, but have declined by almost 50 percent between 1976 (when there were 3,295 homicides committed by women) and 2005 (1,826 by women), according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In that same time, the chance of a man being shot by a woman decreased by 75 percent.
We don't yet know the details of what went on in Alabama, though it's human curiosity to speculate—as if by mastering the details, we can make some sense out of senseless violence. Until we know more, all we can do is keep the families of the victims in mind and reach out to our own friends and loved ones. To all of our readers: stay safe and warm this holiday weekend.