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  • Writer's pictureHoward McBroom

My Story

What do we do with shooters after we identify them? School shooters like Nikolas Cruz and Ethan Crumbley are almost helpless when it comes to navigating the world and learning how to handle social situations. Nikolas was so desperate to get a girlfriend that he’d ask cashiers for their phone numbers. Ethan was so incapable that he thought a demon was in his house; he also tortured animals and made numerous drawings of blood and guns. That’s the real problem with these people; they just can’t handle the world. I can relate to this because I came from a similar background. I never had a father. Instead, I grew up with an angry, critical grandmother and a mother with mental health issues and paranoia. When you come from that kind of environment, you simply can’t acquire the skills you need in order to handle the world. I knew nothing of dating or how to ask a girl out. Where could I have learned those things? My mother and grandmother certainly couldn’t have helped with any of that. In today’s world, the lack of such skills sets you on a trajectory toward being a loser. I know that’s a harsh word to use, but that’s exactly what it is. You’re on your way to being a loser and there are really only three options open unless you find a way to transition out of that level: 1) you can accept being a loser for life, 2) you can commit suicide, or 3) you can commit mass murder. You might want to do better, but if you don’t have social and emotional skills, you’re helpless. People who come from good backgrounds know how to handle the world; when you come from a family with competent parents who teach you the skills you need to be loving and compassionate, you do pretty well. However, if you come from a bad background, you’re helpless. You’re trapped on that loser level, which is not a good place to be because no matter what you do, you’re probably going to end up failing for life and if that happens, there really is no reason not to commit suicide or murder. What kind of future do you have anyway?


In my case, what made the difference was when I got on the Board of Directors of the Lanterman Regional Center in 2007. After a few months of being on the board, I realized that these people were very different from all the other people I had known in my life. They were far more capable than the people I knew and better able to do things. This was an overwhelming shock because I realized that there were different levels of capability and social emotional competence. These people were on a much higher level than I was, but they invited me to join the party. I realized then that I had a choice. I could back down and run away, or I could take things by the horns and move forward. Going backward was not an option; I had to go forward, so I did. I worked on the Board of Directors for seven years and acquired many skills there. Today, I am an advocate for disability rights and am active in the fight again violence. People like Nikolas Cruz and Ethan Crumbley don’t have the advantage of having a regional center board of directors filled with highly competent people ready to be their mentors, so we’re going to have to give it to them. We have to organize classes in emotional and social intelligence, classes in which they can learn how to be winners. These classes need to be stacked by competent and caring people who can roleplay with them and teach them how to handle the world without violence. They don’t know how to do this and they truly need help so they don’t go out and kill.


We really need to help these people and stop violence. We can’t be satisfied with stopping some school shootings and saving some lives, we have to stop violence everywhere across the board or else we won’t have democracy much longer. No one is going to fight for a democracy that can’t stop mass murder. In my own city of Los Angeles, a 24-year old young lady was just killed in a furniture store. She was opening the store when a man walked in and stabbed her to death. On some deep level, he probably realized that she was a winner and he was a loser. People like him may realize this but don’t know how to fix it. Unless something is done, they’re eventually going to become a hater because where else do they have to go? Violence is the only kind of power they have, albeit a sick, evil and dangerous one. We have to help these people otherwise we should say goodbye to democracy because who can live in a world where your 24-year old daughter is murdered in a furniture store? How can we continue to live in a world where this happens every day? We can’t. People will accept even an authoritarian society in which they have no rights if they think it will stop this kind of violence and a restore a more stable society. People want stability more than rights and I can’t blame them for that.

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