“The shooter … asked one of the other students to stand up and when he did ask him if he was religious. The student said he was Christian and was shot … He then had another student stand up and asked him the same, when he answered Catholic the shooter then asked if he believed in the afterlife. The student said I don’t know and the shooter thanked him for standing up for his beliefs and shot him. …A woman on the floor “said she was sorry for whatever happened to him and for whatever she had done wrong, The shooter then said that he bets she was and shot her.”
This is the account of Matthew Downing of the Umpqua Community College Oregon, who is one of the survivors of one of the deadliest school shootings in the history of Oregon. Matthew was only spared because he was told by the shooter to deliver a package from him to the police. Otherwise, he too would’ve met the same fate as his other classmates and the professor.
School Shootings have become a common phenomenon so much that people have now become numb to any and every incident which takes place. As of now, more than 50 incidents of shooting have taken place in 2015 where a gun was fired both intentionally or unintentionally, leaving more than 30 dead and nearly 50 injured. As of now, the total amount of incidents averages to more than 1 incident per week!The facts are taken from an Index created by Every Town Research for Gun Safety which has a record for every School Shooting which has taken place since 2013. The situation is so bad that America leads the world in the number of school shootings!
There is probably no one reason as to why America has such a high number of school shooting incidents especially when gun violence has dropped nearly 50% from 1993 till 2011. One of the reasons for such a large number of shootings is the easy access of firearms. Americans own more firearms than the total amount owned by the civilians of 21 other countries where school shootings have taken place. The number of firearms per 100 residents in America is 97. The second country which comes after America is Serbia with nearly 58.2 guns per 100 Residents! That is a huge difference! Almost every other household has a firearm which a Child can easily access. Banning the purchase of guns altogether or requiring a stricter check before purchasing a firearm would not solve the issue because there are so many guns already out there that it is extremely possible for a perpetrator to acquire a firearm from a relative or even purchase a gun illegally.According to an analysis conducted by Every Town Research, nearly a third of the shootings have occurred as a direct result of a confrontation vocal or otherwise which escalated into a shooting. And the American culture is such that people are told that taking a stand for what you believe in is the right thing to do. Underage teens who are still extremely immature that this the wrong way and think that the usage of guns is the one and only way to solve problems and end confrontations and that is what most school kids who go on rampages do. Combine this with the fact of easily accessible firearms; we have a solid reason as to why America is the leader in the number of school shootings.
Another factor which can and does contribute to the abnormally high number of school shootings is the practice of glamorizing and glorifying the perpetrators by the Media. Take the example of Time Magazine, which after the incident at Columbine had big colored portraits of the attackers on its cover page. According to various behavioral experts, this practice can encourage more unstable and unhealthy people to take up arms in order to get the same amount of attention from the media as others. Guns give that impression of power and strength over another and those who have been subdued all their lives take this as an opportunity to subdue those who have subdued them all their lives. There have been solid indications of attackers being inspired from people who have previously committed similar acts in notes and manifestos left behind after they commit suicide or are killed in encounters with the police.
According to the analysis carried out by Every Town Research, most of the school shootings have occurred in high schools and among which 70% of the shootings were committed by minors. According to researchers, this is the time of a person’s life when they are going through both physical and mental changes. They are going through puberty; they start to feel affection and other emotional changes such as love, lust, hate etc. Most of the people try and cope up with these changes one way or another but then there are a few of those who are unable to cope up with these changes which leads to loneliness, isolation and seclusion which again in turn leads to hatred and anger. Again, those which are not able to cope up with the anger resort to violence and release all of that anger stored in them on to others.
Combine all of these factors of easy accessibility, Media Coverage and Health Issues with the fact of growing social inequality, the people will find a way to take out their frustration one way or another. Unstable people who are also victims of social inequality are bound to turn to violence one way or another in order to take out their frustration at the society. The American Health system is in tatters and those who are mentally ill are not being taken care of properly. As long as unstable and mentally ill people are remain unchecked, incidents such as this will take place regularly as one incident will inspire many others to do just the same in order to gain name and a means for releasing their anger.
It is clear that something needs to be done about this ever growing problem and everyone needs to make some sort of compromises in order to reduce the number of casualties due to school shooting incidents. The Media can compromise and stop giving prime time to the killers and attackers which they certainly do not deserve. Such an action will show otherpotential perpetrators that shooting someone just to get the public’s attention is not something worth killing and dying for. The politicians can compromise they vote bank and call for stricter laws regarding the purchase of guns as well as checking the background and mental health of a person before selling a firearm. This will not solve the problem completely but it will surely help. The Schools can tighten up their security and be on a constant lookout for people with unstable behavior. As soon as a person starts to show abnormal behavior, the schools should immediately take action so as to prevent a possible shooting or any other deadly incident. School Shootings are bad for us and our children, and they need to stop as soon as possible.