It’s not clear to me that the authors ever answer the question that is posed in the title of their book: why do we kill? And if they do it’s the smaller pragmatic why’s of commonly known negative social factors of single-parent homes, bad schools, barriers to upward mobility, etc. But perhaps the point is precisely that there is no answer, that violence is as absurd as the murder of the Arab in Camus’s The Stranger. People kill for nothing:
“People kill because they’re angry over a slight. Frustrated over a hard look. Pissed off because somebody talked with their girl. They kill and will kill for nothing.”
Many of the brutal murders described are committed by teenagers, in a matter of fact way. It’s not a fearless anger or revenge that drives these murders. It’s much less dramatic than that. These are kids, stupid ignorant kids, who have no understanding of (and thus no value for) human life. They carry the ultimate responsibility for failing under the immense hopelessness of their environment. But once that is clear, ideas for solutions have to start flowing (along with funding). That’s a tough thing to ask for in this climate of budget ceiling debates.