A Gunman’s Regret

Science can help society grapple with the horrors of modern gun violence

…A death row inmate wrote to say that something I had written had helped him understand how his life derailed. If he had read this material on the neuroscience of violence earlier in his life, he wrote, “I might not be here today.”


I gave a gift to a man who is about to be killed. He agrees that he should be killed, because he murdered innocent people, but he regrets. Regret wells in the wake of senseless violence rocking American society today. That emotion permeates this dark period of horrific mass shootings and daily violence, and it reveals a path to prevention.

I opened the envelope and read the words typed out on cheap newsprint paper, destined to yellow and decay.

“I am an inmate here on Death Row. I have had trouble with my anger all my life….”

The typewriter’s worn ribbon left each letter fading toward the bottom, as if the lines were vanishing. I imagine the prison scene and the sound of typewriter keys slapping under the fingertips of a solitary man taking this action in the last days of his life—not for redemption, but for prevention.

The letter reads, “I had committed [the crimes] in a fit of anger while I had been up for days using Meth. I am not using this as an excuse for what I did.”

A quick internet search disgorged a revolting record depicting a horribly cruel path of destruction. In a fit of rage, this man brutally shot and killed his wife, her young son and an innocent young woman whom he took as hostage in a getaway attempt.

“I am guilty and right where I should be,” he wrote…

(Please see complete article on Scientific American)

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