Why so many school shootings – and why now?

By Stephan Drew
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Over the past few decades, we have seen too many school shootings.
Most of us have reacted with shock, sadness, anger and confusion. On May 24, an armed gunman got into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students, two teachers and wounding 17 others (including several police officers) in a rampage of horror.
Although this type of event is happening more frequently, it is extremely difficult for me to understand. How does anyone, no matter what their age, sex or social status, rationalize murdering innocent children (or ANYONE for that matter)?
What mental processes go on inside that person’s brain in order to make it “okay”? What objective did they have? What problem were they trying to rectify? All these things come to mind when I think of these tragic events. First off, I can’t even imagine how anyone could try to justify such action. There IS NO justification for it, whatsoever.
Some say it’s because he was able to obtain his weapons (2 AR Platform rifles) and over 375 rounds of ammunition. Some say that no one has any right to such weapons and that “the gun is the problem.” There are those who think that if we get rid of all guns, this won’t ever happen again.
I won’t get into that endless debate. I really don’t think it’s that simple. I do know this much, however. I grew up in a house full of guns. When I was younger, I knew my father had handguns, rifles, shotguns and plenty of ammunition. He never once had to lock them up to protect us from them.
We were brought up with a thorough knowledge of what a firearm is capable of and we knew that, unless you were hunting with him, you better not touch Daddy’s guns, ever. We never had a shooting or any such event in the schools. I can’t remember even hearing about a “hunting accident” until I was in my late teens.
But guns were an ordinary part of our lives back then. I’m not a hunter but I remember going to high school with many others who were. In the student parking lot, you could plainly see pickup trucks with gun racks in the back window. Some students had two or three rifles/shotguns in their vehicles.
Back then, a lot of the guys would get up early and go dove hunting before school. Then, when school was over for the day, they would head back to the woods and hunt until dark. No one ever took their guns out of their truck on school property. No one at that time had ever heard of a school shooting.
That was so far out of our realm, we couldn’t even have comprehended such a thing. But it seems that it’s becoming a frequent occurrence now. Why? The first schoolhouse was built in America in 1621. From that time until the early 1990s (about 370 years), gun violence in schools was unheard of. So what happened? Is it the violence in movies, video games, on TV and in the cartoons? We grew up watching cowboy shows where there were plenty of shootings but we never wanted to kill anyone.
As far as violent cartoons go, we watched Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry and the Road Runner every Saturday morning. There aren’t many cartoons more violent than those but we never felt inspired to act out those savage acts on each other.
I did once think I was Superman and tied a “cape” (bath towel) around my neck. Gladly, I was stopped before I jumped off the roof of the porch. Even if I had, I may have broken some bones but I would have hurt only myself. It wouldn’t have resulted in a loss of many lives.
I also remember many of the guys in school carried pocket knives and no one was ever stabbed. Occasionally, while cleaning their fingernails, a guy would mildly cut himself but that was a rare accident. He certainly wasn’t trying to murder anyone.
Back then, how did we get away with carrying guns and knives to school and not having it result in a major loss of life? What was different then? In that age of no Internet, no cellphones and no iPads, were we just more mature than the youngsters of today with all their knowledge and information?
What was it that kept us from going on a rampage of death? In my case, it was a deep and true fear of God and my Daddy. I went to school in a time when our parents were told EVERYTHING that happened at school. My Daddy was a tall man. When he spoke, we listened. If he promised to do something, you could count on it happening. He taught us that school was a wonderful opportunity but it wasn’t a game.
You went to school to LEARN, not to play. When he told you something, he meant it. You didn’t trifle with Daddy or you would regret it. And, my mother accompanied me to each class every year on the first day of school. She wanted to not only see the curriculum that would be taught but to also meet the teachers we would have. I can still remember her sitting in the back of the classroom, observing our instructor’s teaching style.
Every night, Momma not only made sure we DID our homework, she made sure we UNDERSTOOD it. My parents always told the school administration and staff that, “If he behaves, do what you’re allowed to for punishment. And, please let me know because he’ll get even more of it when he gets home.”
They were very involved in our education and they cared that we grew up into intelligent, disciplined, respectful and productive citizens. I’m sure that parents nowadays wish the same things for their children.
So what changed? What did we have back then that is missing today? Or what did we NOT have that is now present in today’s schools? It has to be something. Young people don’t just wake up one day and decide that it’s okay to murder someone. There has to be some kind of disconnect between how we did things back then and the way things are now.
Since the 1990s, we have enacted nearly 3,200 new gun laws but that hasn’t stopped the violence. In Columbine, those students broke 144 of these laws. So, do we really think one more will help? Unfortunately, criminals do not obey the laws. But there has to be something else involved.
What is it that makes a person rationalize killing innocent children? What has happened to us? When did it begin and what triggered it? I don’t know the answers but I think we need to sit down and have an honest open discussion about it before another generation of violence occurs.
Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, I think we can all agree on one thing — the children of America deserve safe schools … period.

Author: Stephan Drew

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