This past school year I received one of the scariest calls from my oldest son’s elementary school. There had been a threat of a shooting and all campus’s were being closed down. I sped to the school where parents were parked anywhere and everywhere and running as fast as they could into the school for their kids. Police were posted in several places and teachers were loading kids in cars as quickly as possible in the pickup lanes. This was happening in little bitty small town America, population 1, 900. Here of all places, this was happening. It was later found out the threat was made over SnapChat by a high school student and was said to have only been a prank. A SnapChat prank! Give me a break! The kid’s name was never released but the student was charged with a felony. A hot topic that came way too close to home!
The number of school shootings in the last decade has risen by leaps and bounds. Never before in history has America witnessed the current level of violence in schools. There has been a great demand for law makers to do more to prevent the next rampage. Everything from more guns, less guns with more laws, and no guns at all. In 2012 Psychology Today complied a list of warning signs to identify a potential school shooter. The topics of why they happen and how to prevent have been a constant in communities and media since the sensational 1999 Columbine shooting in Colorado. Although the concept of school shootings seem to be a new thing, there have in fact been school shootings documented as far back as the 1800’s; not to mention the attacks performed by knives and/or stones are not well documented and not included in this list. Although this is a unscientific study, only my own observation; but it seems violence has always been lurking around the corner in our communities. A few similarities I noticed throughout this list is the access to guns. I can understand why some people think banning all guns is the answer, but what about the violence committed in history with knives and stones? Those people used what was accessible to them in order to carry out their acts of anger and hate.
It has been said by many times over in news outlets and in general corner store conversation that “this used to not happen in times before” or “when we were kids we never worried about shootings”. History shows that violence, even among adolescents is not a new occurrence. The violence increased along with the increased availability of modern guns over time, but violence has always been there. So what has changed to create this perception? In addition to the selection and attainability of guns, the amount of news coverage has increased exponentially. Not nearly as many local stories went nationwide as they do now. Even local stories in another country can spread internationally in matter of a few hours or less. It is not that tragedy never happened before, we just did not know about it right away or knew about it at all. Cable networks like CNN began bringing us news from around the world around the clock in the 1980’s. Now we watch live stream happening events from our iPhone’s and Androids right in the palm of our hands. Why wouldn’t the world seem like such a much worse place than thirty or forty years ago?
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There is a statement that has circulated both social media and billboards along highways, and is to the effect of “Cain killed Able with a rock, it’s a heart problem not a gun problem“. Okay, I get that point of view and even agree with it to an extent. As I said before, people used what was accessible to them in order to carry out their acts of anger and hate. By that logic it is the anger and hate of some that is the problem, not guns. However, should the ones who’s anger can so easily be set off or spend a great length of time planning their “big event” have access to weapons that can mow down dozens of lives in a matter of minutes? I am baffled by America’s obsession with guns, and I live in the south where it is definitely quite prominent. There are twenty-seven amendments to our constitution, but yet Americans are so obsessed with mainly the second.
While I do not see banning any and all guns as a solution because prohibition has never worked, but I do believe weapons made for war should be. An M4 or the infamous AR15 (and other weapons in their classification) are made to be used by soldiers in war zones. Why does a civilian need one in their closet? They really do not, for the vast majority it is merely a way to be controversial and gain attention to themselves. As far as gun laws go, I am in favor of strict nationwide regulations. We have many laws already, but they vary from state to state. A person committed to causing harm can simply travel to another state to acquire what they want. As what happened in the shooting death of John Lennon, the gun laws of the time in New York prevented the gun from being obtained in New York. His killer purchased the gun in Hawaii and flew with it to New York (keep in mind this was 1980). Streamlined national laws would prevent a situation like this. No law ever stops every single criminal or deranged person, but creating more hurdles to jump would stop more than before.
Please, let’s all be kind to each other and teach our kids to be kind. Identify and do not be afraid to speak up about those who may be at risk of rage and anger.