My research shows that the first indiscriminate, mass shooting at a school took place in 1966. Three more incidents took place in the 1970’s. The number of incidents exploded in the 1980’s, and 1990’s, and the shooters since the 1990’s have predominantly been children and young adults in their early 20’s. Something has happened in the last 50 years that was different than the previous 200 years of US history.
Another school shooting has occurred, this time in Maryland at the Great Mills High School. (See the CNN report: Armed student dead after he shoots 2 others at Maryland high school, sheriff says). Some people will herald this incident as a vindication of gun rights because the shooter was taken down by an armed resource officer in the school. I will leave that debate to others. I want to focus on why school shootings are happening in the first place.
Yes, we can say school shootings are happening because of guns, but guns are not the whole story. Guns are not the root cause. Guns have been ubiquitously part of the fabric of American life going back to the Revolutionary War and before. Guns were accessible in our country throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s, but there was never an indiscriminate, mass school shooting until 1966 when an engineering student holed up in a tower in Austin, TX and began shooting at passersby on the campus below.
Within months a copycat shooting took place in Mesa, AZ by another individual who spoke about inspiration from the Austin shooter and a serial killer. (See A Brief History of Indiscriminate School Shootings in the US) Copycat inspiration is a likely source of motivation for indiscriminate, mass school shootings, but copycat inspiration doesn’t explain why. Why would anyone be inspired to emulate such an example as a school shooting?
Regardless of whatever we decide as a society to do about guns, we need to ask why!
Any gun regulation that we pass will only be a cover up of the real issue. If we only take away the guns, we will fail to address the root cause of the problem, leaving us exposed to other forms of indiscriminate, brutal acts using other means. We have already witnessed incidents with knives (for a list of over 50 mass knife attacks since 2001 see Wikipedia), bombs (reference bombings in Austin and San Antonio, TX (Another suspicious package found at FedEx after explosion, police chief says, CNN March 2018)), vehicles and other things.Continue reading