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Debris is strewn through the scene of a mass shooting at a music festival near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo: AP/John Locher)

An open letter signed by 147 criminologists, sociologists, psychologists and other human-behavior experts asks that the media stop publishing the names and photographs of mass killers.

Research has found that fame is a major motivation for many mass shooters.

"They want to be celebrities," said Adam Lankford, one of the lead drafters of the letter and a criminologist at the University of Alabama. "We know that some of these offenders have said things like, 'The more you kill, the more you'll be known,' and 'Someone who is known by no one will be known by everyone.'" 

No notoriety

After a mass killing like the one in Las Vegas on Sunday night (Oct. 1), when a shooter sprayed bullets into a music-festival crowd from a hotel window above, the identity of the perpetrator is often the first question. But "the particular sequence of letters that make up offenders' names, and the particular configuration of bones, cartilage and flesh that make up offenders' faces are among the least newsworthy details about them," Lankford and the other signatories argue in the letter. The plea is based on a proposal published in September in the journal American Behavioral Scientist by Lankford and Eric Madfis, a sociologist at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

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