School Shootings: Seeking the Why

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.

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Political Morality and Tilting at Windmills

I recently watched a video a friend posted of women who are Trump supporters talking about the decade old tape that has caused a firestorm of passionate debate. One friend who identified herself as “not a Trump supporter” observed that we seem to choose when we want to respond to these things with outrage.  Political morality always has a point, and the point isn’t morality.

How true that is!

Anyone who was an adult in the 1990’s remembers the Monica Lewinsky matter and subsequent allegations from other woman about Bill Clinton’s indiscretions that all took place when he was serving in public office in different capacities. There was outrage then, but the bulk of it came from a different quarter.

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Yielding to God and the Moral Proof

Morning Fog by Gail Rush

Morning Fog by Gail Rush

I have little faith. At least, I live like I have little faith. It is true. The intellectual arguments for God are sometimes easier to latch onto than actually living like I am accountable to God.

Living a life accountable to God is harder than simply believing. Living an accountable life means yielding myself on a regular basis, but I find my nature to be less than yielding at times. Even in the best of times, human nature is stubborn and hard.

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Finely Tuned Universe


We live in a finely tuned universe. Not everyone would put it that way, many people who do not believe in God, for instance. For them, the existence of life is a product of random chance. Though the odds are low (extremely low), they would rather believe that we are product of chance than the design of a Maker.

To take the position that chance explains everything, we also need to be able to accept that our rational minds came from the same random, meaningless, irrational process of chance. Life sprang from inanimate material; reason came from matter; morality developed from natural selection; love is something more like indigestion than anything more noble or meaningful. In fact, all is meaningless if the atheist is right. There is no point to life, let alone our lives, at all.

If that is the way it is, so be it. It is not like there is anything we can do about it. It does affect how we live, though. Does it not?

If there is no Giver of life, we are not beholden to anyone. If there is no Rational Mind, how can we trust our own minds? If there is no Author of morality (or Judge of it), I am free to do as I please (as long as I do not get caught by someone who does like what I do). If God is not Love, fulfilling any pleasant sensation or feeling is as good and certainly no worse than the next; there is no difference between the prostitute paid for sex and my spouse.

There is no absolute scientific proof for either position, not should we expect any. We are infinitesimally minuscule in comparison to time and space. It is incongruous that we should expect to know more than we do.

From a purely rationalistic position, the odds are a pretty good indication of the probabilities. You can watch the video below and decide for yourself.