Before ending his life, 22-year-old Jake Davison had ended five other people, including a three-year-old girl and her father. The first to die had been his mother, Maxine Davison, 51, with whom he lived. The police spoke at first of “domestic incident” discarding the trace of terrorism, but as the personality and contacts of the murderer have become known what happened has taken another turn.
Davison was a self-conscious man, a six-foot-tall, 120-pound mass with no success with women, who had found a job laying scaffolding. A fan of violent video games since childhood, he took steroids and on his YouTube account he complained about his physique, his lack of attractiveness, he spoke of his isolation and the insurmountable difficulties in relating to girls. Police found Davison’s contacts on social media with forums of an extremist men’s movement called Incel, short for the English expression “involuntarily celibate” (celibato involuntario), who blames women for not wanting to have sex with them, relationships to which they believe they are entitled without more. The murderer had commented on one of those forums that he felt “bitter and jealous” and that women “have zero respect for men and do not treat them as human beings.” In a message five days before the attack he claimed to have “right” to “a 16 or 17 year old girlfriend”.
Resentment and narcissism
Experts in radicalization studies describe Incel as a misogynistic and extreme subculture of men loaded with resentment, narcissism and self-pity. A movement from the United States, which is part of what has been called the “alternative right” and has been linked to other shootings. In 2014 in California a supporter of the Incel forums killed six people and injured 13 more before committing suicide. Four years later, another ran over a group of pedestrians in Canada, leaving 10 dead and 14 injured. Both had previously posted misogynistic messages on the internet.
The indiscriminate shooting in Plymouth has been the worst in a decade in Britain, where the use of firearms It is highly regulated, but not enough as it is being seen. Davison possessed a permit for the rifle with whom he perpetrated his crimes. The police will have to explain why they owned it and, worse, why it was returned to him in july, after he was withdrawn in December due to an assault that occurred three months earlier. The license and the gun were returned to him despite the fact that his mother and other relatives had alerted him to the young man’s mental state. In accordance with The Times, 10 women have died in the last nine years for the shooting of their partners, in possession of a firearms license despite a history of complaints of domestic abuse and serious mental health problems.
Nazir Afzal, former Crown Prosecutor for North West England claims that Davison was “exactly the type of person to watch out for“In an interview on the BBC he wondered whether the police take violent comments against women on social media seriously enough and suggests that they be investigated with the same tools used in the fight against terrorism, to prevent future tragedies. “You have to think about what to do with these men, because they are always men. What to do with what they say ‘online’, see how they have become radicalized and what that radicalization implies.”
For now, and while the investigations into the Plymouth event continue, some changes have been proposed. One is the obligation to investigate the activities on the social networks of the applicant for a weapons permit. Another is that the applicant undergoes a mental health check.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.