Scott Moscarello, Online English teacher, and researcher at Acadsoc.
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Each morning students wake up with the promise of an opportunity to learn, interact with friends and get away from all their troubles that may be at home or anywhere else. For many of these students, school is a great way to liberate oneself and change the status quo. But what happens when school becomes everything contrary to what has been previously stated? What happens when the teachers underperform? What happens when peers segregate and discriminate? But most importantly, what happens when school is not the safe-haven that we deem it to be? The deafening screams of innocence in a ‘safe’ environment have become a nightmare that has come to life in some schools. Most notably, more and more students are opting for home-schooling alternatives because they are in fear of security breaches – and no, not from an immigrant, but from one of their own. And some students become victims of not only real-world violence but internet violence as well.
Every year the US television sets are painted with grief emanating from school or some other mass shootings. Students are able to obtain guns, and for whatever reason, wreak havoc among their peers and teachers, with little to no remorse as their screams shatter windows and the hearts of those not knowing what will come next. The United States mass shootings, by students, in particular, is cause for concern – this concern, however, may be long overdue.
Violence is not new, in any of our societies. It can be argued as well that violence has shaped most of our nations. The history of mass shootings in the world has met swift action by the government, but not so much in the west – the United States in particular.
On Valentine’s day this year, police responded to a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. During this shooting, seventeen people were killed. The suspect, at nineteen years old, was an ex-student yielding an AR-15, named Nikolas Cruz.
On the 1st of February, a twelve-year-old girl was taken into custody for bringing a loaded gun to school and shooting a fifteen-year-old boy in the head and a girl, with the same age, on the wrist. This happened in Salvador B. Castro Middle School in Los Angeles.
A shooter opened fire at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky on January 23, killing two people. Students Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, both 15 years old, died. Suspected shooter Gabriel Ross Parker, 15, was arraigned on Feb. 16, according to Kentucky State Police. “A Marshall County Grand Jury returned an indictment on Tuesday, charging Parker with two counts of Murder and fourteen counts of First Degree Assault,” Kentucky State Police said. Marshall County Circuit Clerk Tiffany Griffith told Reuters a judge entered a not guilty plea on the teen’s behalf.
A 15-year-old girl was hurt in Jan. 22 shooting at Italy High School in Italy, Texas. A 16-year-old male student was taken into custody, Ellis County police told Fox News.
In the school’s cafeteria, the suspect “engaged the victim” and fired several shots with a semi-automatic handgun, Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge said during a press briefing. The suspect was confronted by an Italy Independent School District staffer in the school cafeteria and took off, Edge said. Law enforcement later apprehended the suspect on school grounds. The suspect was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the Ellis County district attorney’s office announced.
These are just some of the reported incidents, in other words, these are the ones that make it onto the news – many other incidents occur on a daily basis and only make it to the ears of the locals.
Pressure on the U.S
Supporters of gun rights look at America’s high levels of gun violence and argue that guns are not the problem. They point to other issues, from violence in video games and movies to the supposed breakdown of the traditional family. Most recently, they’ve focused particularly on mental health. This is the only policy issue that Trump mentioned in his speech following the Florida shooting. But as Dylan Matthews explained for Vox, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. And Michael Stone, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of mass shooters, wrote in a 2015 analysis that only 52 out of the 235 killers in the database, or about 22 percent, had mental illnesses. “The mentally ill should not bear the burden of being regarded as the ‘chief’ perpetrators of mass murder,” he concluded.
Out of the supposedly “developed countries in the world” the United States has the highest firearm homicide rate at 29.7 people per 1 million. The issue of mental illness is also not supported when we consider that there is a background check conducted with every gun sale – so mental illness is not the problem, but rather the gun policies. Not to focus on race, but another nullifier of the mental illness issue is that the excuse is always associated with the white perpetrators – where if the shooter was black or Hispanic, there would be a call for stricter immigration laws and parole conditions.
Australia has not had a mass shooting since the year 1996 and here is why: The country made sweeping gun control measures after a man killed 35 people with a semi-automatic weapon in a popular tourist area of Port Arthur, in Tasmania. Weeks after the April 1996 tragedy, the country, and its states began banning rapid-fire guns to tamp down on mass shootings and then offered to buy the prohibited firearms.
The University of Sydney, in a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found Australia hadn’t experienced a fatal mass shooting — one in which five or more people are killed — since the 1996 shooting. In the 18 years prior, 1979-1996, there were 13 fatal mass shootings in Australia. The numbers also showed total firearm deaths in Australia, which had been declining before 1996, dropped more rapidly once the changes were made. There were also declines in non-gun-related suicides and homicides, the study found, meaning researchers can’t determine whether the laws can be credited with driving the declines. .
The possible drivers for such violence include gun policy as stated above, but also campus security policies. Safety needs to be of paramount importance in all schools just like it is in the black communities where there are metal detectors at each entrance of the school. If the possibility of strengthened security presence seems too far-fetched, we can see more of these campus shootings happening in the future.
Another possible driver is an antisocial culture within the schools. Where students come from different backgrounds and LSMs, we can only imagine the type of discrimination that can occur. Couple that with gun policies that are more than ‘friendly’, the results can be found in the mass shootings rates of the past year, or five.
It is important to note that the problem is not one that is exclusive to the United States, but the rate at which these mass shootings are occurring is alarming. There needs to be greater attention and no fear of losing popularity amongst the leaders of the country of the USA. The policies need to be stricter to protect the people from themselves. If that is not so, we may see an increase in the development of online schools like Acadsoc where students and teachers will not have to worry about safety from gun-wielders. But that is not the solution to this big problem because mass shootings are not limited to campuses, but churches, malls, festivals, and restaurants as well.