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School Shootings: A Lot More Than Just Gun Control

Updated on March 15, 2013

An Open Letter To Legislators About School Shootings and Gun Control

My Esteemed Legislators,

I understand that you are part of a group looking into ways we can keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. I applaud your efforts but I certainly hope we can do more for our children than another half-hearted attempt at gun control.

Trying to pass school safety legislation based on one or two factors would be a waste of your time and ours. You will never stop these killers until you understand that they are not politics, and they are not parts. Just as you cannot bake a cake with flour alone, a school shooter is not created using a single ingredient. It takes a recipe of sorts to create mass murderers, a mix of events that ultimately led to the unthinkable.

While I applaud your willingness to finally take some action on the matter. I feel that the focus on guns has taken away from other just as important changes that must be made. We can't keep talking on the guns and ignoring the many other factors that are involved.

I applaud your efforts to include as many different points of view as possible. There are so many voices to listen to. I know you have a steep climb ahead of you. I would like a chance to add my voice to the mix, for whatever it is worth. I have waited almost five years to share my information on school shootings with someone who had the power to do something about it. So I thank you in advance for your time.

We still have so much more to talk about.

Thank you for listening,

Ayngel Boshemia Overson

For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield 1967

There's something happening here

What it is ain't exactly clear

There's a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound

Everybody look what's going down

70 & Counting

Between 2010 and 2013 the United States has already experienced more than two dozen mass shootings. If this rate is left unchanged we will have 60 more incidents to add by the end of this decade, adding the names of another 600 victims of mass shootings by the year 2020.

The Rise of Mass Violence
The Rise of Mass Violence

The Rise of Mass Violence in America

The Wild West Has Nothing on Us...

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook I have been hearing people say that we can't act on an isolated incident. They have forgotten so quickly...

Each shooting claims the lives of an average of 8 victims, with some estimates ranging as high as 14. At least 500 lives have been lost to domestic terrorism in my lifetime alone, (forty years) and still people keep telling me how very rare these shootings are.

Despite the prevalence of guns in the early 1900s people didn't walk into public places for no other reason than to kill random people. Mass shootings were fairly rare until the 1970s. Between 1914 and 1966 there were only four or five shootings that would fit the current definition.

Then in 1966 we met Charles Whitman, a mentally ill man who climbed to the top of a bell tower at the University of Texas and began shooting at random passers by. Fourteen were killed, and thirty-two wounded.

In the 1970s there were four mass public shootings, including Brenda Spencer one of the few female school shooters. She was not a student of Cleveland Elementary School just a neighbor. Brenda was in her own yard when she killed two people and injured nine, When asked why she had done it she replied, "I don't like Mondays; this livens up the day."

The 80's brought the term "Going Postal" into the national vocabulary. These 80's mass shootings took the lives of at least 35 people in post offices across the nation. There were at least eight mass killings between 1983 and 1993. Highly publicized the copy cat incidents soon followed. What began as disgruntled workers striking out led to a man in camouflage opening fire in a McDonalds restaurant in California. While another chose at a Lubby's diner in Texas for his assault on society. Our national statistics rose to nearly one mass killing per year.

Sometime adults will snap, we knew that but for some reason we thought our children were immune. We were wrong...

The 1990s doubled the rate of mass killings yet again, 23 separate incidents spread out across the nation. This time a new generation of killers picked up guns and they started taking them to school.

American news coverage spawned global copycats. There have now been 14 shootings in other countries since Columbine. These countries took immediate action, passing laws restricting access to guns and violent media.

America expressed shock and outrage, and a whole bunch of other strong emotions as well... but very little was done.

Between 2000 and 2010 American's witnessed 33 more mass shootings. They spread from workplaces and schools to malls and courtrooms and hospitals and even churches.

If you were paying attention you would have counted nearly 70 of these "isolated incidents" in the United States since the 1970s.

Between 2010 to 2013 the United States has already experienced more than two dozen mass killings. If this rate is left unchanged we will have 60 more incidents to add by the end of this decade, adding the names of another 600 victims of mass shootings by the year 2020.

A School Shooting "Expert" - Who does that?

Becoming an "expert" on school shootings wasn't something that I sat out to do intentionally.

I was a young mother in 1999, with a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby on the way. Like the rest of the nation, I watched the massacre at Columbine unfold horrified. I couldn't help but look at my own children as I saw the list of dead and wounded growing. I didn't want to imagine what it would be like if my child didn't come home from school, but I couldn't help it.

Then they began showing photos of the shooters, and my gaze fell upon my son. He was just a toddler at the time, certainly not a killer. But I knew that the mothers of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would have said the very same. That initial spark would go on to become the foundation of a novel about life after a school shooting.

My story is about the many lives touched by school shootings, and the scars that remain even years later. Those who lose loved ones, those who are injured themselves, even the witnesses and caregivers face lifelong battles. These were the stories that I sat out to tell. I wanted people to know about the real heroes in these shootings, but for 99% of the media their coverage will always go to the killers. I studied what the experts had to say and followed every link, but most of all I got to know the shooters themselves to the best of my ability.

I have been a girl scout leader, youth mentor and community volunteer my whole life. I live in a small town, very close to the size that the majority of these shootings happen in. I work with kids who are bullied and outcast. I spent a lot of time around today's youth, and it is nothing like the world I grew up in. They need us now more than ever.

My kids are all teenagers now, and I have a stepdaughter to raise as well. Being a parent is nothing like it was in my mother's generation. My kids are facing pressures even I never dreamed of.

Over the years I've spoken with the mother of a school shooting victim, a surviving school shooter, law enforcement officials, former military, doctors, and school safety experts trying to sort fact from fiction.I've read every study I could find on the individual subjects. And it turns out that 99% of what you hear about school shooters is just that, fiction.

I started the website ColumbineLessons.com to help us discover practical solutions to school shootings to help people discuss what will and will not work to address school violence. My goal now, is as it has always been; to open a dialogue that actually helps. I have too many other projects to give it the time and attention it deserves, I admit, but I enjoy conversations with people from many different walks of life on the subject.

Finnish school shooter copycat - Pekka-Eric Auvinen
Finnish school shooter copycat - Pekka-Eric Auvinen

The "Typical" School Shooter

A Recipe For Violence

Sources for my research were widey varied, but included: Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, official studies conducted by The Center for Disease Control, the Secret Service, and The National Research Council. And my eternal thanks goes to Dr. Phillip Zimbardo the man who led The Stanford Prison Experiment, the case study that powerfully illustrated the power of a situation to transform good people into bad apples.

In 2002 the U.S.Secret Service completed the Safe School Initiative. After studying dozens of school shooters they found there is no useful profile to guide professionals. That is part of what makes finding a solution so difficult.

The only way to really find them is to wait for them to hurt someone. That method is costing us dearly. Most looked just like every other disaffected American teen. These are not bullies and abused children who just snapped, but they were not monstrous mutations of nature either. In most cases, these kids were just like every other teen-aged boy in America until...

Nobody seems to agree where the blame should go, but all of this finger pointing is just wasting valuable time. The truth is that we cannot change school shooters without changing the environments they are being created in.

These people want to kill, they want to die, and they want to be killed. Take away the guns, they will continue mass killings using homemade weapons. Take away the video games they will just read violent books. Put cops in schools while continuing to cut education funding and there will be little difference between a school and a prison. Offer them mental health services and they will avoid them or manipulate them.

The whole system is broken.

This generation is quickly losing their interpersonal skills right alongside their math, reading and writing. Their sense of personal responsibility is fading. The ability to make good decisions non-existent. Their communication skills If you need proof, see the YouTube comments section or any teens Facebook profile, (the one they keep hidden from the adults). Our children would rather post YouTube videos of an old woman being attacked than come to her assistance.

When you comb through the profiles of mass shooters, you expect to find glaring differences between them and the rest of society. You wont. This isn't just a gun issue, it is total apathy. We have rights, but no responsibilities. This is a generation of entitlement bearing poisoned fruit.

A look at your "average school shooter" will reveal very little that is remarkable before the fact.

Upper middle class, from small towns or suburbs. Many of these kids came from two loving parents who were still married, some came from divorced homes. Rarely was physical abuse found in their pasts, more often they came from authoritarian homes with high expectations. There were power struggles, just like everybody else. Military style homes with strong rules and little room for error perhaps, but nothing outside of what would be considered normal for our society.

Their school careers were unremarkable as well. Rarely involved in sports they were often bullied by jocks or popular kids. Not excessive physical bullying, most of the time it was identified as "boys will be boys" type teasing. Questioning of sexuality or manhood, calling them out as homosexuals or somehow less than the male ideal. They all showed a deep desire to be acknowledged and respected. To gain the attention of someone. To strike out at someone. To BE someone.

Prior military is common with many of the older shooters, and talk of joining the military or law enforcement in the future is common as well. They like guns. They like violence. There is no proof that these incidents were linked to any specific mental illness. Schizophrenia was diagnosed after the fact in a number of cases, (Kip Kinkle and Michael Carneal) but only a small few. There are often signs of Atypical Depression and Mixed Personality Disorder with paranoid, antisocial and narcissistic features. All three elements of the Menninger Triad are present in many of the shooters: they wish to die (suicide), they wish to kill (homicide), and they wish to be killed (suicide by cop).

In almost every school shooting incident the same basic ingredients were found to differing degrees, for a more in-depth look at these ingredients and their sources please refer to my article, The Standard School Shooter Recipe at http://www.squidoo.com/schoolshooterrecipe

School didn't used to be a war zone...
School didn't used to be a war zone...

Where Have All the Grown Ups Gone

The Wiring is All Wrong

With both parents now expected to work, we need someone to step in and raise our kids. To teach them values we are supposed to teach them. They can't learn morals and values when they are being raised in factories. With little reward for acceptable behavior and few consequences for the bad.

Beginning in the 1950s American mothers began working at ever increasing rates. In 1955 just 27% of mothers with children under the age of 18 were in the workforce now it is believed that 70.6 percent of mothers work. The earliest school shooters were born in the 70's and were between 3 and 13 years of age when they committed their murders. Is it really any surprise that the rate of mass shootings has increased as mothers have left the home?

Extended family used to play an important role in bringing up families but now instead of going to grandmas house while your parents work kids are shipped off to day cares, to public schools, or other industrial strength child rearing facilities. We are raising our kids like cattle and then as soon as they are old enough they are given the keys to the house and the remote control.

Where are the adults in these children's lives? Nobody seems to know.

Women working is not the problem, but when we took something away we forgot to build something in it's place. One of the biggest deterrents to youth violence is the presence of concerned adults in their lives. This generation does not have that.

Adults teach us how to relate to the world around us. They teach us how to form bonds with other. Even something as simple as eye contact has a major effect on a child's ability to form relationships in life. Kids need one on one relationships. They will not get that in large day cares. They will not get that in public schools.

In many schools just having adults in the hallway to simply smile, making eye contact and connecting with the kids on a human level was all it took to reduce the levels of violence. If more adults stayed involved in their children's lives, if everywhere those children looked the was a responsible adult peer then perhaps our children could be saved. But it will not happen until then.

If we don't care about this generation why should they care about anybody else?

We all need help helping our children these days, we need help identifying troubled behaviors and someone to help us figure out what to do about the problems we now face. We need a place for parents and teachers can locate the resources they need to help youth in crisis. A place for parents to go when they no longer know what to do with children who are beyond their control.

We need a support agency for anyone in fear for their own safety or the safety of their community.

Media Coverage From Street Artist Banksy
Media Coverage From Street Artist Banksy

Monsters, Fame, and the Media

If it Bleeds it Leads

I had no difficulty researching the most intimate details of school shooters lives, but it was very difficult to find media coverage of the victims beyond the odd human interest article. There are websites offering walk-throughs, copies of the killers journals, and manifestos. You can follow some of their footsteps from beginning to end and you can learn to relate to them. It isn't hard to do. They were human too, and you can't help but see that underneath all of that anger. Some kids learn to actually look up to these shooters, and a very few will go on to emulate them.

The media has played a huge role in the continuation of school shootings. I know you are looking at regulating violence in the media and I do have some suggestions in that regard but the biggest change that needs to be made is the way these events are covered. Our modern media assures that our society will remember the shooters names forever, but the victims are often lost in the shuffle. That really must change. The less attention paid to the killer the better. We have to stop making heroes out of our killers and villains out of our victims.

Cultural behaviorist and noted author of The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines, Loren Coleman make a good case for some media regulation on the coverage of school shootings. If the only images shown of the Columbine killers had been their lifeless bodies lying in the library perhaps it would never have become the social script that it has. Instead they showed us the fear the attacks caused, the power the shooters had over the bullies, the sympathetic profiles, and the cult following the shooters later gathered.

School shooters are all copy cats now, carbon copies of carbon copies.

Part of that power they are looking for comes from the media attention. From the attention previous crimes have gathered. Columbine was splattered across the news for weeks, now it would barely register headlines. The crimes are growing more shocking because they have to, the media wouldn't cover them otherwise.

There are entire groups on line of young people dedicated to memorializing and sympathizing with them. People will love them, people will fear them, and most of all people will never forget them. If you want to change school shooters we need new laws on how these incidents are covered. Focus on the victims not the shooter. Limit the amount of coverage, and the use of the shooters name or image. Part of their power is in being "known" if you take that away some of the appeal be lost.

The media is a powerful force in or modern society. It represents a certain form of control to these boys.

The Cult of Columbine now dictates that the crimes be more shocking and the body counts be higher with each attempt. Including explosives. Ways to carry more ammo. Ways to prevent people from escaping. Though they usually worked alone, sometimes in pairs, they all worked towards a singular goal. Destruction of our society from within. They wanted to make us hurt, this much is true but more than they they wanted to be famous.

First Person Shooter Games are NOT Created Equal
First Person Shooter Games are NOT Created Equal

Why the media can't take all the blame...

Over the years many people have told me that they believe that it was violent video games that lead to mass shootings, that all they are is a walk-through for the real deal. Some shootings have been linked to games, some to movies, and some to violent music. In Columbine all three were cited.

If it were simply violence then the Japanese would be just as violent a culture as the United States, but they aren't. You are 11% more likely to be assaulted in the U.S. than in Japan and 39% more likely to the victim of a crime overall. Many have cited their strict guns laws as the reason for this. Perhaps, but more often overlooked in this equation is the simple difference in the way the two cultures perceive violence.

The media raises our kids now. Now take an honest look at what that media is teaching us. Not through the eyes of adults who know better, but children who as just figuring out the world around them.We all grew up with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. With Arnold "the terminator - then governor" Schwarzenegger teaching us that body counts do matter. Guns aren't supposed to be an answer but nearly everywhere you look in today's media they are.

I'm not talking about limiting their access to violence, it's time to think less about the violence itself and more about exposure time. The first time you see something it can be shocking, but each time you are exposed to it after that you become more used to it.

As a writer for abuse survivors I often remind people that "It is amazing what you can get used to." But it applies to anything, tolerance builds. The more you are exposed to violence the more normal it becomes. Today's youth are exposed to violence on a continual basis. After a time that violence becomes normal. Guns are seen as the great equalizer in our society. They make the weak strong, even the odds, and place you well above even large groups of people who are normally larger and more powerful. Instant gratification.

In 1981 a study by the The Center for Media Literacy, found that the amount of violence on Japanese and American television is roughly the same. Other countries are simply much more likely to focus on the consequences of violence than Americans.

While we have the same amount of violence, violent scenes on the whole are less frequent on Japanese television. Violent scenes are often far more realistic, last much longer than in the U.S., and tend to focus on the physical suffering involved rather than the sense of power and control one receives from violent acts. Violence is not presented as a solution.

The Japanese culture still values those who are honest, hard-working, and self-disciplined, and their heroes tend to mirror those values. In American media violent acts are evenly distributed between "good guys" and "bad guys," where in Japan, more than twice as many violent acts are performed by the villain.

The factor that most people miss is the influence doesn't really matter. The Bible, the Koran, classical literature, the Beatles... all have been cited in shootings and influences. To someone with a broken brain, even the most innocent items can be perverted.

Millions of kids played those same video games and did not react violently. Only some did. And they were mostly American children.

There is no question that these shooters were drawn to violent media. The Columbine killers even named their assault "NBK" after their favorite movie, "Natural Born Killers." But they didn't just watch the movie once or twice, they were almost obsessed with it. Their obsessions did not stop there. The first person shooter game DOOM. The music of Rammstein, the song "Weisses Fleisch" in particular, a song about a bloodbath in a schoolyard. Nazi influences. War. Weaponry.

They immersed themselves in violence for at least two years prior to the massacre. They steeped themselves in it. It is easy to blame the video games, and to some extent they most certainly helped, but not in any way that a regulation or law could help. Much in the same way a serial killer uses pornography, it doesn't matter what the influence is. It is the feeling of power they are seeking, and the American media equates killing with ultimate control on an increasing basis.

The media has taken on a life of it's own, if you remove one violent influence three more will spring up in it's place.

Coverage of these events needs to focus on the victims the survivors, and they need to be the real heroes. If we could change that one thing in our culture, our youth would see a very different version of power in their own lives. They would learn that only cowards pick up guns to solve their problems. That heroes always do the right thing.

It is a small change, but one of the most needed.

The media raises our kids now. Now take an honest look at what that media is teaching us. Not through the eyes of adults who know better, but children who as just figuring out the world around them.We all grew up with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. With Arnold "the terminator - then governor" Schwarzenegger teaching us that body counts do matter. Guns aren't supposed to be an answer but nearly everywhere you look in today's media they are.

I'm not talking about limiting their access to violence, it's time to think less about the violence itself and more about exposure time. The first time you see something it can be shocking, but each time you are exposed to it after that you become more used to it.

As a writer for abuse survivors I often remind people that "It is amazing what you can get used to." But it applies to anything, tolerance builds. The more you are exposed to violence the more normal it becomes. Today's youth are exposed to violence on a continual basis. After a time that violence becomes normal. Guns are seen as the great equalizer in our society. They make the weak strong, even the odds, and place you well above even large groups of people who are normally larger and more powerful. Instant gratification.

School violence isn't just an inner city problem
School violence isn't just an inner city problem

Why Small Towns Schools Are Particularly Vulnerable

Kids are being educated in schools where funding has been cut for all but the basic classes, but the sports programs have been kept alive and well. In my own hometown, the school really is the center of our social activity. One of the most powerful resources in my research was Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings by Katherine S. Newman, Cybelle Fox, Wendy Roth, Jal Mehta, and David Harding.

I was shocked to discover that many of the towns and schools the shootings happen are very much like my own hometown. Small towns where a certain last name or family reputation can be a get out of jail free card for life, but it can also be a life sentence. Our sports stars are the closest things we have to local celebrities. A suspension could decimate the sports team if the right kids are involved. So, infractions involving the jocks tend to be handled "internally" or not at all. Some kids can get away with just about anything, while others struggle daily just to stay afloat.

There is a totally different dynamic at work in small town schools. People are related, they've been friends for life, they know people who know people. And people are far more likely to overlook warning signs when they happen close to home. To assume that someone you know could never be violent. To ignore the obvious.

Gossip in small towns is brutal, but it is also a fact of life. A rumor can circulate overnight in a small town, and the effects can last years. A bad reputation doesn't just go away, it hangs on for decades... sometimes generations. So when the kids at school are saying that a straight student is gay or a shy student is vulnerable it really does feel like a life sentence.

People know your secrets in a small town, and people talk.

Even in small schools, class sizes have increased, teachers can not be aware of what is going on with every student. Too many bullying incidents are slipping under the radar, and those that are reported are not treated seriously. Especially if higher ranking students are involved. What you will often find is kids who literally had nowhere to turn.

We need stronger anti-bullying policies in schools, online, and in our communities. Bullying is not just a factor in youth killings, disgruntled workers are often behind spree killings. Workplace bullying is usually only addressed after the fact though. After something has gone wrong. When your fear of life outweighs your fear of death anything can happen...

We need to hold the staff responsible when they ignore reports. Numbers need to be posted in all schools where complaints can be lodged against staff members that ignore or even encourage bullying.We need stronger peer counseling groups. Places for kids to turn. People to rely on.Most of all we have to hold the bullies responsible. They need to be removed from school as disruptions to the education process. No more tolerance. Require schools to comply or have their funding cut.

We need a national school safety resource center. This generation has grown up in a country where 25% of our national budget is spent on defense while only 3% goes to education. For that you should ALL be ashamed of yourselves.

Parents, schools, medical professionals and even law enforcement are all going to have to work together. There are teachers at every school that are willing to stand up for the kids. Encourage them, ask kids to nominate them for awards. Make them stand out in the schools so troubled students know where to go. But for God's sake fund them FIRST. Our national budget for education is just plain unacceptable.

You owe our youth an apology.

Twice as Likely

In 2004 the FDA issued a Black Box warning for antidepressants warning consumers that they can cause double the risk of suicide and violence in some people.

School Shooting - Mass Murders
School Shooting - Mass Murders

The High Price of Inadequate Mental Health Care

A Price Too High To Pay

Legal problems or court intervention weren't always present but the red flags were there. In many cases the shooter even bragged about it ahead of time. Teachers were deeply concerned about behaviors. (Virginia Tech), shipments of gun parts were ignored (Simon's Rock), reports to police were ignored and search warrants issued but never executed, (Columbine). In nearly every case, someone knew but they thought someone else would deal with it.

In case after case, someone somewhere knew the danger ahead of time they just had nowhere to share it.

Often so subtle or inconclusive the red flags were overlooked until it was too late. Violent obsessions, disturbing writings, gory artwork, and even outright threats of revenge were present. In some cases parents had the information, in others a teacher or counselor, while still in others police were involved but the courts were unable to share that information with educators.

The red flags are always there, but somebody somewhere needs to know what to do with them.

Privacy laws protect the innocent, but they also protect the guilty. Too many times the information was there but someone thought it was someone else's job to follow through. In the end nobody knew whose job it really was, they dropped the ball and people died.Too many violent individuals are slipping through the cracks. We need a red flag system.Once a red flag is noted, there had to be a central place for people to go with their information. A place with the authority to obtain court records, medical records, education reports, and initiate full investigations if necessary.

The parents of these boys often seek help with their sons behavioral issues only to find there is no help to be had.

In the Sandy Hook shooting you find that his mother had sought help from professionals many times. It has been reported that she took him to the E.R., the police station, and even had him hospitalized at different times. It appears that her most recent attempt to commit him may have been what pushed him to cross over. No mother should have to feel that desperate. No community should have to pay that price.

People with mental health problems need access to help.

A little less publicized is the fact that nearly all of these school shooters were on psychiatric medications now known to aggravate violent behaviors. At some point these drugs were prescribed, and often changed somewhere near the shooting (Red Lake, Columbine, New Life Church) but for some reason their medical providers were only treating the symptoms. While the dangers of antidepressants and other mood altering drugs are known, they are still being prescribed without the necessary psychiatric follow-up. Medication is far cheaper than therapy, and easier too.

In 2003 doctors were warned not to give most common antidepressants to under 18s, because of fears that the risks outweighed the benefits.

In 2004 the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory warning that “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia [severe restlessness], hypomania [abnormal excitement] and mania [psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur and overproduction of ideas] have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants.”

You cannot throw pills at these types of behavioral problems and make them go away. Medical professionals need to be held responsible for the drugs they prescribe, for taking it beyond pills and finding out the root of the problem. For formulating real treatment plans with the other adults in a troubled child's life.

We need a comprehensive education plan that will not only educate the public on the warning signs but teach them what to do once they find them. There needs to be a central place to process these types of concerns. People need referrals to the proper authorities, they need a place to send reports and concerns. We need to give them something to do with the information once they have it. We will always pay the price for inadequate mental health care eventually. We need proper facilities, providers, resources. It can't be ignored any longer.

It's more than just guns...
It's more than just guns...

Guns Don't Kill People...

...they just help.

One of the worst school tragedies in American history only involved a firearm as a means to ignite explosives. In 1927 farmer Andrew Kehoe wired the local school with explosives killing 38 children and 6 adults, and injuring 61. While in 1964 Walter Seifert killed 8 students and two teachers using a homemade flamethrower. Sweden saw another school massacre in 1998, when student Shoresh Kaveh blocked the exits at a school dance and set fire to the building, 63 people were killed and another 200 were injured. A murderer without a gun can be just as effective a killer.

(Germany 2002) GUNS HEAVILY RESTRICTED - Germany has strict gun laws. Robert Steinhaeuser complied with them all. He joined an officially accredited club for sport shooting and passed the rigorous German tests required to own a gun. He entered his school and killed killed 17 people, mostly teachers before being restrained and killing himself.

(Japan 2001) NO GUNS INVOLVED - Japan has some of the strictest gun legislation in the world, yet has still had its share of mass violence. People have armed themselves with rat poison, homemade guns, and knives. Mamoru Takuma was armed with a 6-inch kitchen knife, when he wounded 13 first- and second-graders and two teachers. He killed seven girls, ranging in age from seven- to eight-years-old, and one six-year-old boy. He plead guilty and was sentenced to death... at his execution he stated : "I should have used gasoline, so I could have killed more than I did."

(Germany 1964) NO GUNS INVOLVED - Walter Seifert converted a garden sprayer into a flamethrower and filled it with an easily flammable mixture that could deliver a six-meter flame. He took his new flamethrower, a lance that was 1.5 meters long and a homemade iron centrifuge to the Catholic elementary school at Cologne, Volkhoven.

(Sweden 1998) NO GUNS INVOLVED - Shoresh Kaveh was disappointed that his reputation alone did not get him admitted to a dance without paying the cover charge. He and his friends blocked the exits and set fire to the building, 63 were killed and another 200 were injured.

Saving Lives With Guns?

When there is an armed adult nearby, the average number of victims in a shooting drops to 2.3. An additional twelve lives are saved when someone already on scene has a firearm.

Schools or Prisons?
Schools or Prisons?

More Guns In Schools?

Sit down. shut up, and learn dammit!

It takes law enforcement between seven to eleven minutes to arrive on scene, but can take hours to clear the building.

Safe places to hide are crucial. It is time to consider putting safe rooms in public buildings. It should be possible for teachers to secure their classrooms with bullet proof doors. Windows should have emergency escape routes and be easily secured. We need solid barriers to protect the innocent in case of a shooting. Places for people to hide until help arrives.

Some are asking for security guards, metal detectors, and even bullet proof school accessories for our children. We cannot continue to expect children to learn in the environments we have created for them as it is. Please for the love of good don't turn or schools into war zones. I do not want to see Kevlar on my grandchildren's school supply lists.

Guns are a touchy subject.

The average school shooting takes less than seven minutes to claim the lives of fourteen victims. At least that many will have been wounded, but the rate of injured is often twice that of murder victims. No matter which way I look at it, the NRA is at least partly right. When there is an armed adult nearby, the average number of victims drops to 2.3. An additional twelve lives are saved when someone already on scene has a firearm. If we can't get the bad guys with guns off of the streets, we need good guys with guns in our public places.

I've heard many ideas being thrown around on how to implement this but they all come with more risks than solutions.Just because someone has a gun does not mean they are qualified to handle an emergency situation. There is no way of telling if the person with a gun in their glove box is going to use it to stop an assailant (Pearl High School Shooting, 1997; New Life Church Shooting 2007) or be the person pulling the trigger. Uniforms make armed targets easier to identify and take out first. (See Red Lake Shooting, 2005) And if school staff is allowed to carry how can we be assured those weapons will not be used by a student or staff member?

There are just too many unknowns with the random people carrying guns scenario, volunteers among school staff willing to train with local law enforcement is a good beginning. People willing to be evaluated for mental fitness, licensed to use a firearm, and undergo regular training. Their identities should be kept confidential, or they would likely be immediate targets. No uniforms, no open carry. These firearms should be kept in a secure and private location, secured in a safe and connected to a silent alarm system. Something to notify teachers to begin security procedures.

The presence of secured firearms on campus would be the only part of the program publicized. Who, and where would only be revealed on an as needed basis.

Guns are only a small part of the overall picture. It's time to look at the rest of the picture.

I appreciate your time and consideration. Please write your representatives and tell them that we can't do nothing any longer...

I Appreciate Your Time

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    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Such an important topic. Thanks for your heartfelt efforts to speak out. I also liked your Columbine piece and would like to ask if I can post your link in one of my hubs on school violence as a further reference to the impact it has on our kids. Keep up the good work.