school rampages were associated with crack markets. The inner-city epidemic still could have had an influence on the suburban and rural shootings, through the images of violence and spread of a culture that made it imaginable that children would carry guns to school, from the fear and despair that these shootings might exacerbate among other adolescents who were having a difficult time adjusting to adult lives. Such a “second mechanism” might relate inner-city to suburban and rural violence. These influences of the inner-city epidemic on the suburban and rural epidemic of rampages are a different claim than the hypothesis that the two different epidemics were caused by the same external factors.
One could also explain the youth homicide epidemic of the 1990s by giving more emphasis to cultural and subcultural factors. Fagan and Wilkinson (1998) point out that there is no direct evidence of a causal link between adolescents’ involvement in the drug trade and homicides committed by adolescents. They argue that the epidemic occurred as guns became an important part of social interactions among urban youth. The possession and use of a gun had become a symbol of power and control, a way to gain status and identity, and a means to enhance feelings of safety and personal efficacy among teenagers. The increased youth demand for guns, the available supply, and the culture that teaches kids lethal ways to use guns had a large and complex impact on the overall level and seriousness of youth violence.
Another explanation lies in the particularly fast-moving aspects of culture that are viewed as fads. Rock music and video games may have helped to spread a culture of violence among kids. The spread of gangs across the country may have provided a medium for the spread of commitments to violence and knowledge about how to use weapons. Gang culture may have spread even more quickly and widely than gang infrastructure, as suburban and rural kids who had never had contact with a real gang member took up the stance and behavior of the gang that they learned from movies. Klein (2002) suggests that, although many gang members migrate to other cities and bring their gang experiences and culture with them, the majority of street gangs are homegrown. The diffusion of gang culture—and youth culture—lends the appearance (and often reality) of similarity among such groups.
In the inner-city case studies in Part I, there is much evidence of the influence of gang culture, and in the suburban and rural case studies little evidence of it. There is some evidence of the influence of violent games and media in both the urban and the suburban and rural cases, but given the general popularity of these things among all adolescents, it is hard to know whether the communities and youth we examined are unusual in their enthusiasm for this sort of media. The shooters in the suburban cases may have been influenced by violent media, but not many of the