Senate Candidate Attributes Increasing Gun Violence To Male Unemployment


Jim Rubens

Jim Rubens


Jim Rubens, a former New Hampshire state senator who formally announced his entry into the race to challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on Wednesday, holds some controversial views on gun violence. In particular, he has repeatedly linked men’s supposedly declining prospects in the workplace to increasing gun violence and murder.

As Evan McMorris-Santoro reports at Buzzfeed, he wrote a post on his website in 2009 (now behind a firewall) that connected the “increasingly female-centric economy” to high rates of violent crimes and murders among men. Specifically, he mentions, “Men are charged with 82 percent of violent crimes and 89 percent of murders… Over the period 1975 to 2000, 71 percent of school shooters—all of them were males—had been previously bullied, persecuted, or physically injured.” He also writes that 90 percent of serial killers were men over the last century and that serial killings increased by about 35 times between the 1950s and 1980s.

He stood by those views in an interview with Buzzfeed on Wednesday. Pointing to the fact that “manufacturing jobs, which have been the basis for higher-wage working men during the post-World War II era have been in decline” and that “men are more sensitive to women to external indicators of status” such as having a job, he claims that the loss of blue collar jobs in favor of collaborative jobs “has increased stress in males” and that stress can lead to violence. “It’s a tiny fraction of males that become stressed for whatever reason and engage in acts of extreme violence,” he said. “If you look through individual psychology of mass shooters over the past 10-20 years, you can see that in the profile. Often its a person who has been subjected to extreme stress in the form of social rejection, job loss and associated mental health issues.”

But men may not be suffering economically as acutely as Rubens claims. While they lost more jobs during the recession, they have steadily gained them back during the recovery period, which has been much more rocky for women. In fact, the so-called “mancession,” when the unemployment gap between men and women peaked at 2.7 percent in August of 2009, effectively ended in February of 2012, when men’s and women’s unemployment rates converged at 7.7 percent. Men have held steady at that rate, while women have seen a slight improvement to 6.8 percent. Even so, men have consistently outnumbered women in the workforce. In 2012, 59 million men worked full-time, compared to 44 million women.

And even if men were being forced more and more out of traditionally male jobs like manufacturing into softer female-dominated jobs, there’s little reason to think they will suffer from the transition. Men are increasingly entering these jobs, as occupations that are more than 70 percent female accounted for nearly a third of men’s overall job growth from 2000 to 2010, double than the share in the previous decade. Those who enter these roles will succeed faster than women. They earn more and are more quickly promoted into higher-paying and higher-status positions. (Overall, men earn more than women in nearly any occupation or industry.)

If Rubens is looking for the cause of increasing gun violence rates, he may want to consider the fact that states with looser gun regulations have higher rates. Or the conclusion of the largest study of gun violence in the United States that widespread gun ownership is fueling the increase.