There are always people who think that keeping people from owning guns is the answer to preventing murder. These people say that anyone is capable of being a criminal, and therefore guns are too dangerous for anyone but cops and the military. Others say that there is no way to predict who will be a killer, but is this true? Why do people become criminals, addicts, or killers? The answer is in our brains.
The neurological system of human beings is controlled by chemicals called neurotransmitters. The brain manufactures more than 60 different neurotransmitters that are responsible for everything we do from breathing, to pupil contractions, and even our thoughts and emotions. For the purposes of emotion and this discussion, there are three that we are talking about: Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine.
Everything that we do that brings us pleasure involves Dopamine. If it makes you happy, Dopamine is the chemical that is responsible. The nervous system uses dopamine as the reward for good behavior. Serotonin is the love and comfort chemical. This neurotransmitter gives us our feelings of belonging, self-confidense, and calm. Norepinephrine is responsible for the “4 F’s” (feeding, fleeing, fighting, and f*cking).
In the human brain, there are components that control our emotions and behaviors without our conscious control. Among these is the midbrain. A small area of the midbrain called the Substantia Nigra makes dopamine, and passes that reward through a structure called the nucleus accumbens, past the frontal lobe, and to the rest of the brain. Since the midbrain is out of our conscious control, there are no ethics or morals involved in this level of control, this is pure instinct. In this way, the midbrain causes us to do whatever brings us pleasure.
We can exhibit a certain amount of control by utilizing the frontal lobe of the brain to interdict some of these impulsive, hedonistic impulses. You see, the frontal lobe of the brain is where our sense of morals, self control, and duty originate. In children and young adults (up to about age 25) this area of the brain is not yet fully developed, and this is why people in that age group do stupid and irresponsible things.
In addition, various genetic and environmental factors either damage or prevent the development of this part of the brain. Individuals that do not have a fully developed frontal lobe have little self-control, no sense of right and wrong, and no morals. In short, they are out of control criminals.