By the Rev. John T. Beach
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Saugus
Every person in this country is in anguish over our current mass shooting
Although we are united in our anguish, our country is deeply divided over what a remedy might be.
Those on the political left call for the removal of certain firearms. Those on the right maintain that an armed populace would keep us safer. Many advocate more robust mental health resources-though mental health professionals maintain that there are severe limitations on their ability to change the behavior of antisocial persons.
Frustrated by reactionary policy conversations that never seemed to convert into meaningful action, special investigator and psychologist Jill Peterson and sociologist James Densley built The Violence Project, the first comprehensive database of mass shooters.
Their goal was to establish the root causes of mass shootings and figure out how to stop them by examining hundreds of data points in the life histories of more than 170 mass shooters—from their childhood and adolescence to their mental health and motives.
They have also interviewed the living perpetrators of mass shootings and people who knew them, shooting survivors, victims’ families, first responders, and leading experts to gain a comprehensive firsthand understanding of the real stories behind them, rather than the sensationalized media narratives that too often prevail. For the first time, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for the victims of these crimes, Peterson and Densley share their data-driven solutions for exactly what we must do, at the individual level, in our communities, and as a country, to put an end to these tragedies that have defined our modern era.
All interested persons are welcome to join us for a discussion of this book. We will be gathering simultaneously in person and on zoom. For those who would like to find out more about the work of the authors can view the TED talks of Jillian Peterson and James Densley. Participants are also invited to study the resources available through the website
For more information, you are welcome to email John Beach at
or telephone at 781-233-1242.
Editor’s Note: The public is invited to a zoom book discussion on “The Violence Project: How to Stop A Mass Shooting Epidemic
By Jillian Peterson, PhD and James Densley, PhD
Winner of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award. Led by The Rev. John Beach
St. John’s Episcopal Church Saugus, Mass. Rev. Beach has been the priest at St. John’s since May 2020. He had previously served as an interim priest for The Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Taunton