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Political assassination is the killing of politicians or government figures for. This may be for political ends, but can occur as the result of the mentally disordered state of the killer. We can see from the list of United States presidential assassination attempts and plots that this is a longstanding problem.
A major study about assassination attempts in the US in the second half of the 20th century came to the conclusion that most prospective assassins spend copious amounts of time planning and preparing for their attempts. Assassinations are thus rarely a case of 'impulsive' action.
However, about 25% of the actual attackers were found to be delusional, a figure that rose to 60% with 'near-lethal approachers' (people apprehended before reaching their target). This incidentally shows that while mental instability plays a role in many modern-age assassinations, the more delusional attackers are less likely to succeed in their attempt. The report also found that around two thirds of the attackers had previously been arrested for (not necessarily related) offenses, that around 44% had a history of serious depression, and that 39% had a history of substance abuse.
References & Bibliography
- Fein, Robert A. & Vossekuil, Brian, (1999)Assassination in the United States: An Operational Study - Journal of Forensic Sciences, Volume 44, Number 2,