Militants in both Recent shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, Californiahas an unusual profile compared to most violent offenders: they are both elderly.
The Monterey Park gunman, who killed 11 and wounded nine before shooting himself, was 72. The Half Moon Bay gunman, who killed seven people before his arrest in what police described as an act of workplace violence, was 66 years old.
Mass shootings at this age rarely happen, especially those without a prior criminal record, such as That was the case Armed with Half Moon Bay. (He was a Monterey Park gunman One arrest in 1990 to illegally possess a firearm) data From the National Institute of Justice, mass shooters between 1966 and 2021 were on average 34 years old, and those over 60 accounted for just over 3 percent of all mass shootings, defined as shootings involving four or more people. more killed.
The idea that people “get out of crime” is one of the most well-documented phenomena in the field of criminology. California shootings should be seen as exceptions to this principle, not superseding examples, according to Ashley Nelis, co-director of research for the Sentencing Project, which advocates for criminal justice reform.
Age predictability is perhaps the most reliable point of data we have on people who commit violent crimes. “Young adults are exponentially more likely and, therefore, significantly less likely that older adults will commit crime,” Nellis said. “It’s definitely a note of caution for anyone who jumps in to make a policy based on these two events.”
Research has shown time and again that criminal activity increases throughout the teen years, It reaches its highest point at the age of 17, the oldest person who can be charged with a juvenile crime, and subsequently recedes for life. Property crimes peak at a slightly younger age than violent crimes. Even chronic offenders are statistically likely to stop committing crime by about age 40, Nellis said.
There are a lot of theories as to why this happens. typical landmarks Associated with advancing age, such as graduation or marriage, may set people down a path that deviates from criminality. Brain development not complete to mid-twenties, which impedes decision-making that may lead to crime and risky behaviour. Young people have less financial security, and people who live in poverty are more likely to commit crimes. Some offenses may be physically demanding, and the elderly may not have the strength to carry them out.
But both gunmen in the California shooting break the archetype of a violent criminal, and their motives are still not entirely clear. detectives He said that the Monterey Park shooter frequented the dance studio where he killed his victims and that the Half Moon Bay gunman, who lived and worked as a forklift driver on a mushroom farm, was Angry co-workers it’s hot. Previously, there had been mass shootings He is 70 years oldincluding a gunman who opened fire at a church in Vistavia Hills, Alabama, killing three people last June.
Although age can sometimes be a factor in the decision to impose a less severe sentence on young offenders, the advanced age of the Half Moon Bay shooter would have no bearing on the length of his sentence, as is customary in the United States.
The San Mateo District Attorney announced Wednesday that he will be charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, with a special circumstance alleging multiple murders and sentencing enhancements for each count due to his use of a firearm. If convicted of these charges, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. (He won’t face the death penalty, given that California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, put a moratorium on executions in the state in 2019.)
It became a life sentence without parole increasingly common in the United States over the past few decades. But Nellis argues that the age of older offenders like the Half Moon Bay shooter should be considered a mitigating factor when making sentencing decisions — particularly given that the use of executive clemency to release them early has become nonexistent, as she wrote in Report 2022.
“Regardless of age, a person who commits an act of violence like this is likely to be rehabilitated, reformed, and ready to return to society within 10 years,” she said.
Reportedly, recidivism is unlikely among the elderly data From the US Sentencing Commission, keeping them in prison comes at a high cost to taxpayers, which includes health care bills that swell at the end of life. It is difficult to say to what extent those who will decide the fate of the Half Moon Bay suspect will take that data into account; Initial indictment on Wednesday.