After the events of this past year, I deem it necessary to go into a deeper discussion concerning gun violence in America and how that affects our education system. On November 30th, a student killed four people and injured seven at Oxford Highschool in Michigan. This mass killing has been the deadliest school shooting since May 2018 (Santa Fe Highschool Shooting). Acknowledging what happened at Oxford high school there have been more shootings since November and I would like to add to this story by diving into the controversial questions involving the correlation between school shootings and gun culture.
Gun violence in America is an epidemic. School shootings are an epidemic, but mourning the loss of children and teenagers cannot be desensitized. This story has been done a countless number of times, covered by every network imaginable, but still, it is a story that has not been taken care of despite the publicity.
In the past year, there has been a total of 31 school shootings in the United States. According to CNN, the U.S. compared to the other six G7 countries (Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK) adds up to 57 times as many school shootings even with the G7 countries combined. Since 2009 the United States has had 288 shooting incidents on school grounds while countries such as Brazil, China, and Russia have only had one.
When thinking of shootings one must also consider their causes. Normally the shooter shows signs of poor mental health, although they are rarely diagnosed beforehand. An interesting article was done by Drs. Garry R. Walz and Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters through the ACA Knowledge Center, which tackles the overview of gun violence in school settings and how school counselors can promote a healthy school environment. Walz and Bleuer explain the profile of a school shooter along with patterns over the years demonstrated through statistics and debunk some of the stereotypical traits.
Diving into the patterns found over the years 98% of perpetrators struggled with some type of grief prior to the attack undergoing a great loss with little to no coping skills. Instead of seeking out help from school counselors the attackers instead take their grief out on their peers or strangers, looking to replace their loss with revenge. Only one-third of attackers (34%) received a mental health evaluation while one-fifth (17%) of that number was diagnosed with a mental health disorder. In addition, 78% of school shooters, a majority number, had a history of suicide attempts or thoughts. Prior to the attack, a majority showed disciplinary problems beforehand (63%). This shows that shootings do not happen suddenly, there is a reason behind the tragedy. Clearly, mental health plays a big role in gun violence. When not recognized or taken care of properly, the consequences are fatal.
A leading cause of school shootings is bullying. The majority of school shooters have claimed to be victims of severe bullying which resulted in suicidal thoughts and a need for revenge against their peers. This humiliation, although not an excuse for someone to commit a mass shooting, demonstrates how a social environment can affect a person’s psyche.
One of the steps schools have taken in order to limit the fatality of school shootings is a step-by-step procedure called the ALICE drill (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). This training for a possible school shooting prepares the students to learn how to barricade inside their classroom, how to effectively exit the building, and what to do in case the shooter enters the classroom. Although the drill subjects students to the recreation of a traumatic event the effectiveness outweighs the risk. It is understandable that some do not like the ALICE drill because it can be traumatizing for some students but it does extend beyond the classroom. Today we live in a world where mass shootings can happen in any public place such as a grocery store, a concert, or a park. Having previous training, although it is specifically geared towards schools, prepares students for a shooting elsewhere as well as at a school.
One of the most popular questions when it comes to school shootings in America includes why there is such a difference between the United States and other countries’ rates of school shootings. The truth is that the U.S. lacks sensible gun regulations as well as popularizing gun culture as a normal aspect of society. Nowhere in the world has more gun controversy than in the United States. According to an article on United States gun policies, Americans possess more than 200 million firearms, and each year about 640,000 violent crimes are committed with guns, mostly handguns. Many Americans argue that gun ownership is a right and serves a purpose in providing security – – their main point being that guns are not the problem, people are. When it comes to this point it needs to be understood that guns increase the lethality of attacks. It does vary by the type of
The most popular gun to purchase would have to be a handgun. It also happens to be the most popular gun to use for school shootings and individual accounts of homicide. A citizen in Pennsylvania can purchase a handgun at the age of 21 but if someone gifts it to them they can legally own a handgun at 18 years of age. Pennsylvania also requires a permit for citizens carrying a concealed weapon but not for open-carry – – gun training is not required. Ironically, training in order to obtain a firearm is not necessary, but students must train for the possibility of a school shooting. In the midst of all these killings, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill last month to carry concealed weapons without a license. Governor Tom Wolf assured supporters of gun restrictions that he will indeed veto this law as it threatens the safety of the public by making guns more readily accessible.
For those against handgun control, the restriction of this specific firearm arguably conflicts with the second amendment (right to bear arms). Others will also argue that with the crime in the United States people have the right to protect themselves. Although these are understandable points, the second amendment is not an unlimited right. A citizen having the ability to purchase a gun is a privilege. When it comes to gun control, the restrictions emplaced stay within the boundaries of the second amendment and are fairly reasonable. The intent is to not completely ban firearms because the response would be very negative, yet increasing restrictions and spreading awareness can only benefit.
In a perfect world, guns would not be necessary. People would not feel the need to protect themselves in their own homes and parents would not be scared when sending their children off to school. There comes a point where the concern of protecting one’s individual rights should not be a priority while children cannot feel safe in a place that promises growth and learning. American children are exposed to gun violence every day through personal experience, media, or training. Children who are exposed to traumatic events are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from mental illness; perform poorly in school, and take part in criminal activity. This is a devastating fact as the number of children exposed to school shootings will be affected by that event for the rest of their lives with no justice provided. Overall, the leading reason for shootings is mental health and a lack of awareness for spotting shooters before they become shooters. Due to incidents like mass shootings, fear is increased within the community as more people feel the need to purchase a firearm in order to protect themselves. Yet this increases accessibility for either the owner of the gun or a son/daughter that will want to gain access to that firearm with more malicious intent.
32 schools shootings this year. 63 people were killed or injured. Thirteen people were dead and ten of those thirteen were students. These were lives that did not have to be taken away so soon. It is absolutely devastating to hear of the number of shootings that took place this year and to the families that lost their parent, son, or daughter I hope they can eventually find peace. In addition to the Oxford shooting that took place recently, I would like to recognize the four students who lost their lives on November 30th, 2021.
Their names were Madisyn Baldwin, 17 years old; Tate Myre, 16 years old; Hana St. Juliana, 14 years old; and Justin Shilling, 17 years old.