School Shootings: The New Psychotic Craze.

Gun control is a popular topic of discussion, especially nowadays with all of the outrageous stories in the news.

I once said “I try to stay away from understanding life. It’s never going to make (full) sense anyway.” It’s probably the smartest thought that has come out of me. Yet I struggle with ceasing the thoughts that run wildly across my mind. When is it right, if ever, to vocalize our opinions on other peoples’ behavior and choices? Is it even worth discussing whether the public should be allowed to own guns? I mean, it’s technically a constitutional right, where is the discussion?

But does that mean I, now, need to posses a gun to make it a fair battle?…

The real question is, why does there need to be a battle in the first place?

I have this idealistic perspective of the world, and how everything should be, always right, always perfect. People should always be nice; thus, why guns are unnecessary. Unfortunately, the sad reality is, the world doesn’t work like that. People aren’t always nice (although I believe human beings are inherently good). They can plot devious plans to massacre innocent people or simply do crazy things on a whim, like shoot someone for texting in a movie theater. So what do we do? Do we keep arguing about whether people should be allowed to own guns? Or is it time to shift the topic of discussion on teaching people how to properly handle weaponry (including keeping it safe and away from children)? How do we stop people from pulling the trigger? How do we teach people to not turn to weapons and violence as a resolution?

I’ve been trying to understand whether school shootings have always happened and never caught mass media attention until now or if this is some new psychotic trend that is going around. Too often, we hear of people going into schools and sacrificing innocent lives. The latest shooting in New Mexico has left two kids injured because a seventh grader decided he was going to attempt what many others have done in recent past. How does a 12 year old boy get possession of a gun?! AND SHOOT ANOTHER KID IN THE FACE, TWICE!! Why should an 11 year old have to undergo immediate surgery?! Even if this 11 year old was a bully, that is not a good reason to fire at him! This isn’t a form of justice. There needs to be a very clear lesson taught to our country if people think they can just grab a gun and shoot people. Moreover, there needs to be a huge lesson taught to gun owners who do not take care of their weapons appropriately.

If you don’t want the government controlling your guns, then make sure YOU’RE controlling them!

…Again, how does a 12 year old boy get possession of a gun?!

 

How can anyone think of taking a gun to a campus filled with innocent children or people who are trying to improve their lives by attaining a higher education?!

It’s outrageous; simply abominable behavior.

Why.

I just want to understand why.

And how do we fix this?…

I’m often left perplexed at life’s controversies; deep down I know what I prefer, but sometimes it’s not logically the best decision. Of course no one should/should need to own a gun. Guns, evidently, make it easier for people to kill people. By simply pulling a trigger, a life can be taken. That’s it. No more going back and undoing the action. One simple vengeful thought, an easy decision made off emotional rage, and lives are lost.

But the saying stands true: guns don’t kill people, people kill people… So how about we stop battling gun owners (because we lost that battle in 1787) and move forward, so we can make progress, so we can teach our people to not kill people.

 

“De ja vu, in a country where school shootings are no longer rare.”

 

I just can’t even deal with that sentence.

 

 

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16 comments

  1. “…I, now, need to posses a gun to make it a fair battle?” [?]

    Depends I guess. You can choose to be a victim if you prefer that. You have that right in the Constitution just like you have a right to not be.

    “I’ve been trying to understand whether school shootings have always happened and never caught mass media attention until now or if this is some new psychotic trend that is going around.”

    When I was going to grade school in the 1950s they didn’t happen, and 12 year olds might very well bring a gun to school, a .22 rifle. Wasn’t anything odd about it then. When was going to a one room country school they might bring it to school because they were going to hunt small game on the way home after school. People were poor and a kid could augment the family dinner that way. After moved to the city kids still might bring a gun to school – they might be on the shooting team that competed in target shooting with a .22 rifle.

    Congress eventually passed a Gun Free School Zone Act and the media became obsessed with reporting anything bad that happened with a gun (and _never_ reported the good things like someone saving their family from a bad guy using a gun).

    People like Adam Lanza studied previous mass murderers. The media made it easy for him and guaranteed to him that his life would be on TV ad nauseum for everyone to see if he killed defenseless kids.

    So you get what you ask for and we (America) has _asked_ for mass murderers in schools big time. We try to make it illegal for decent law abiding people have any means to defend children in school and the media guarantee that you will get all the coverage they can give you. We deserve it, really. We are that stupid.

    regards,

    lwk

    1. lwk,

      Thank you for your insight! I never thought about the days when guns were allowed in schools, let alone necessary like the example you gave for target competitions. You brought up the Gun Free School Zone Act which I had heard of, but didn’t know much about. I’ll be looking into that.

      I agree that media has a detrimental impact on the actions of Adam Lanza and others alike.
      I came across this, http://listverse.com/2008/01/01/top-10-worst-school-massacres/
      which just shows how easy it is to find such articles and learn from them, for the worse! Kids are exposed to so much and it’s all at their fingertips. It’s frightening thinking, all that information can serve the wrong purpose.

  2. ” I never thought about the days when guns were allowed in school…”

    It is a vanishing memory. What I think it says is that society has changed in some fundamental ways, not all good. But some were good too. In that same world we had signs like “Whites Only” and for some of us that is not something we learned in a history book. My parents were embarrassed when at the train station in a nearby city I drank from a “Blacks Only” fountain – we came from a town where there literally were no blacks at all and until that tender moment, maybe I was 8 or 9 best as I can remember, I had never seen a black person except on a black and white TV, appropriately enough.

    My thought is we should glad for some change, but mindful that we don’t change blindly without carefully evaluating the possible consequences. Unintended consequences too often result from well meaning folks who just haven’t thought it all out very well beforehand (like how programs starting in the 1960s literally destroyed the black family in the inner cities, and also didn’t always help poor white people either – think Appalachia).

    As to guns back then, I could buy surplus German or Italian “battle rifles” from WWII from an ad in the back of a comic book. Ammo too. The only “check” was whether your check or money order was good. Bought my first .22 rifle in a hardware store without parental supervision. If I remember right I was about 16 at the time. Of course had handled and used rifles my family members owned long before that. I don’t recollect handguns being as common then as I perceive them to be now, but that just may be an inaccurate recollection.

    It is probably a good thing that has changed. Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy with an Italian surplus military rifle he bought through the mail (led to the Gun Control Act of 1968). I don’t have a conceptual problem with background checks and even wrote a post on how that could be easily accomplished – here:

    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/universal-background-checks/

    The real problem is trying to get a system that gun owners will agree to. Since I am one of them – a gun owner – I think I understand a little of the mentality.

    My bottom line though is I don’t think guns per se are the root of the problem. People have always been the problem. We do have to expect people to behave responsibly with guns and we need to train them to do so. I have made the suggestion more than once that what we really need to do is put guns back in the school. By that I mean put real safety training in the schools so kids know something about guns and how not to kill themselves and others accidentally with them. From what I have read 2013 was a “banner year” for gun sales, and a lot of them were handguns. Also a lot of them were to people buying a gun for the first time. They didn’t grow up in a culture where gun safety was ingrained early on, maybe by your dad or some other adult not so gently reminding you when you did something stupid.

    Thanks for the opportunity for me to pontificate on your blog. I wouldn’t have commented in the first place except you said some interesting things, and had an interesting perspective that got my attention. 🙂

    regards,

    lwk

    1. Wow, how times have changed. I don’t have a problem with people owning guns, as I said in my post, I just wish it wasn’t necessary for defense purposes. I definitely think background checks are critical…but so many weapons are sold illegally… it’s never possible to always correct the whole system.

      I agree, guns aren’t the problem.. if guns weren’t the weapon, something else would simply take their place. My only concern is that guns make it much easier to kill someone… for example emotionally, mentally, even physically.. it is much easier to cause someone harm by shooting, versus, for example, stabbing them.

      When my parents attended school, they learned how to assemble/disassemble a gun and the proper ways of using it… I have never touched one in my life! let alone assemble or handle it. So I agree, people need to be trained, educated.

      Education is always the key! That is also the technique we need to use to ensure our people are not going around harming others.

      Thank you so much for your insight. I am glad that I was able to catch your attention because I truly enjoyed conversing with you.

      1. “I just wish [owning guns] wasn’t necessary for defense purposes.”

        I absolutely agree with you. I know some people who think carrying a gun is “cool” or something. But the reality is that is just tedious and a nuisance after a while, and often uncomfortable. I go to a church that does a lot of hugging and I have to be extremely careful to make sure someone doesn’t hug me where I have my handgun concealed (and wonder what the hell is that?!).

        “I definitely think background checks are critical…”

        I think they might do some good, but they will not do remotely as much good as some peope think, for exactly the reason you mention …

        “so many weapons are sold illegally… it’s never possible to always correct the whole system.”

        Exactly. There are more than enough guns out their right now to supply criminals and such for generations. And if we can’t keep illegal drugs out of our country why do we suppose we could keep gangs from importing handguns, for example, if that was profitable?

        “…My only concern is that guns make it much easier to kill someone… for example emotionally, mentally, even physically.. it is much easier to cause someone harm by shooting, versus, for example, stabbing them.”

        This is one of those “talking points” that I hear often and it sounds really plausible. But I don’t think the reality entirely matches. From the last data I have seen (a little old now) the homicide rate in Russia was about twice ours (no idea what it is now, don’t think they publish that info any more). But your average Russian is not likely to own a gun (legacy of the Soviet regime where having a gun illegally could get you sent to a gulag and the secret police and informants were everywhere).

        Apparently Russians have no problem killing each other with clubs, knives, and other assorted weapons other than guns. But even that is probably a simplification of the truth. It is difficult to understand what allows one person to kill another. People who can kill apparently are capable of killing with anything, although a gun is probably an easier way to accomplish that. But real killers kill. That is what they do. Just like people who really intend to kill themselves will find a way.

        There is book that discusses this. It is called “On Killing” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a psychologist who studied killing in war. Many of his conclusions apply outside of war. Most people can’t kill easily, and if they do they suffer greatly for it. Most people will go to almost any measure to avoid killing another person, and often put their own lives at risk to do so. That is the reality that Grossman discovered (and he talks about how the military learned ways to condition soldiers to overcome that). No one really knows if they can kill, unless they have killed. It is as simple as that. There are absolutely police officers out there right now who are not really capable of killing (there is no real test, other than doing it).

        The NRA was originally founded by Union officers after the Civil War to correct what they saw as the problem of horrendously bad marksmanship by Union soldiers in that war. They didn’t have Grossman’s insight that many soldiers missed on purpose.

        But there are a minority of people who not only can kill, they can do so easily and without a shred of remorse. These are truly dangerous people and the lack of a gun will not stop them if they decide it suits their purpose to kill. I don’t know of any test to detect a lot of them before the fact (some psychopaths can be detected, but a lot of innate killers will not be detected by tests we have today).

        “I agree, people need to be trained, educated.”

        If for no other reason if a parent finds a gun lying about where kids might be, it would be a good idea if they could determine if it was dangerous (loaded) and make it safe (unloaded) safely. Even cops will accidentally lose a gun from time to time and a BATFE agent recently lost a fully automatic machine gun, believe it or not!

        “I truly enjoyed conversing with you.”

        Me too. 🙂 The world as it turns out is a lot more complicated and difficult than we thought. I always enjoy talking about that.

        best regards,

        lwk

      2. lwk,
        you mentioned a few interesting points! I need to do some research on the Russia stats, because that may also have to do with their high mafia rate as well as the high crime rate in the country. Russia isn’t really the safest place, which is bound to impact the society and their actions.

        I would also like to look into “On Killing” because I have often wondered the aftermath for people who serve and have to kill for the first time. I have discussed it slightly with people I know who have served in the Army, but of course, it isn’t a topic they like to discuss.

        I don’t think there can ever be a test that can detect psychopaths, because if someone can figure out what the test is looking for they can change their answers to show inaccurate results.

        A mentor of mine, who is also the Chief of Police, has also stressed the importance of knowing how to handle weaponry for safety reasons.

        “The world as it turns out is a lot more complicated and difficult than we thought.”

        The perfect example of a blessing and a curse!

        –suzsar

  3. In general the serious crime rate, including murder, is down. That is made even more significant when you remember that the population has almost doubled since I was born in 1957.

    In 1957, the U.S. population was estimated to be: 171,984,130 citizens.

    In 2013, the population (Nov 2013) was estimated to be: 316,990,000, so that’s about a 184% increase.

    So if the rate stayed the same, and the population doubled, it wouldn’t be surprising if the number of something went up, and whatever you are considering would by necessity have to be over 2X the original to be an increase in the rate.

    Then consider that the increase in population would likely also increase the number of people born sociopath.

    If one-tenth of a percent of the population could be considered sociopathic, what would the sheer numbers of potential dangerous people be:

    1957: 171,984 sociopaths available to do harm

    2013: 316,990 sociopaths running around.

    That’s a lot of potential mayhem.

    1. Rick,

      The scary part is there are people who may not be “sociopaths” but also cannot control their aggression and violent behavior. If people aren’t able to control their actions, that’s what I find scary. Regardless of whether one is a sociopath or not, if they aren’t able to control their emotions and act on a whim, that is what is most concerning. What we need to do as a society is educate our people as much as we can to control their emotions and take responsibility for their actions; because I’m sure that at the moment when the young student, and the retired officer pulled the trigger, they were thinking they had a good enough reason…

      Thanks for stopping by & leaving your thoughts!

      –suzsar

      1. I guess my point is that even in the best case, we have an extraordinary number of very disturbed people who would think nothing of causing mayhem, and we can’t educate them, nor convince them to be social.

        Should we do our best to educate people to be aware of their emotional state? Of course.

        But I don’t think most of the murders are committed by people who are in the right state of mind at the time they occur.

        Life isn’t safe, and it isn’t fair. As I regularly reminded my children, ‘there is no fairness fairy.’

        Thank you for the opportunity to chat.

      2. Rick,

        But the question that pops into my head in response to your comment is: the people who cause this mayhem… are they all born this way? or did we fail at educating them at a younger age which causes them to behave a certain way… Nature? or Nurture?

      3. If we succeeded in properly educating 99.9% of all Americans (which doesn’t even happen in math class), that would leave 3,130,000 citizens that didn’t fully grasp what you would like them to understand, and would still leave us with all the psychopaths.

        Of course we always want to do better, but we cannot stop 100% of the people from acting irrationally.

        That said, like I started here, violent crime is down, not spiraling upwards.

      4. Rick, you’re absolutely right, 100% is never a viable option. We just need to do our best and hope for the best.

        Thank you for your wise words! I truly enjoyed your comments!

      5. “The scary part is there are people who may not be ‘sociopaths’ but also cannot control their aggression and violent behavior.”

        The people who have serious control issues are probably the easiest to identify. However we have evolved into a society that refuses for the most part to involuntarily commit obviously dangerous people for treatment, or lifetime care if necessary. I have read that Adam Lanza’s mother was in the process of trying to get him committed when he killed her and went on to kill in Newtown. But it wasn’t exactly a case of him suddenly “blowing up” and losing control. Apparently he spent a long time planning it, and studying the means/methods/scores of previous mass killers.

        I think that is a common feature of these mass killers. It is rarely a case of sudden impulse. They tend to plan ahead. They also tend to be cowards who carefully choose “gun free zones” where they do not expect to meet serious deadly force in return. They have built up some fantasy about themselves which they hope to play out and have a compliant media publicize to the world so they can say, in effect, “SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!!!”

        They almost always plan to commit their deed then commit suicide. They absolutely do not want someone to take their life – that destroys the illusion of their fantasy of power and control. Although many plan to commit suicide, not all are capable of it and end up meekly surrendering to police (the Aurora killer,for example).

        We as a society have created this problem, especially the media in the way they cover it. We’ve created it by not being willing to commit dangerous people and depending on drugs alone to treat these people (and some drugs we have may be responsible too, e.g., psychoactive drugs given to children).

        In any case we need a solution. The solution is clear cut and obvious, but one which many people resist through prejudice. The solution for these killers – in the short term – is people with guns legally in place to stop them. Then the story becomes “Adam Lanza shot down before he could commit murder and mayhem.” Still not the best story, but better than the real one we saw in Newtown.

        regards,

        lwk

      6. I hadn’t thought about “gun free zones” but now that you mention it, it’s obvious to me.

        The scary part of the solution you suggested is that you may end up taking the life of someone who is still “innocent.” Even if they planned out the whole thing, if they don’t go through with it, they are still innocent. They should definitely be taken in for help, but they’re still innocent; hence innocent until proven guilty.

        The problem with this system is that it fails to cease danger before it strikes. I’ve seen many tragedies occur because obvious precautions weren’t taken and it’s so unfortunate that human beings only take action after something terrible has happened. We do not invest in enough preventive action and then regret it after the foreseen tragedy occurs.

  4. “The scary part of the solution you suggested is that you may end up taking the life of someone who is still “innocent.” Even if they planned out the whole thing, if they don’t go through with it, they are still innocent.”

    Not 100% sure I fully understand your comment? But’s let’s take a crack at it and see. Are you talking about a case where, for example, a person walks into a school with a gun and all outward appearances are that he intends commit murder?

    A ex-policeman commented on a situation like this on another blog some time ago. It involved the case where a young man came into a school with a gun and clearly articulated that he intended to kill people. In this particular case a teacher, having no firearm herself, was able to talk the young man out of it and eventually he surrendered to police.

    Now it was a great result that in this one case she was able too. As the policeman pointed out this young man was not your average mass murderer (you are not likely to talk them out of it). But someone commented that it would have been against the law for someone in that situation to have pulled out a gun and shot and killed that young man _before_ he actually shot someone.

    The policeman pointed out that in fact that was not true. He said that under the law it would have been perfectly legal to take that young man’s life at that point based on his apparent actions and intent and no one had to wait for him to actually murder someone before using deadly force against him.

    That is also my understanding. If someone walks into a school with a gun and through actions or verbally stated intent is clearly intending to commit murder then using deadly force is legally justified at that point. The “innocent until proven guilty” applies to how we judge a person after the fact, but it does not apply to the use of deadly force to stop an illegal act like murder. Generally if such a use of force is questioned in court they will use a standard like the “reasonable man” standard – would a mythical “reasonable person” have seen it the same way.

    Bottom line is that it is not illegal to use deadly force if you rationally perceive an illegal and violent act that can take life or do serious bodily injury. “Innocent until proven guilty” is simply not applicable, and rightly so in my view. The “reasonable man” standard is our best attempt to try to rule out people who _irrationally_ perceive a danger and use force. Clearly not perfect, but the best we have.

    A really good example of that is the very recent case of Michael Dunn, an middle white man who shot you young black man over loud music. Dunn claimed that he saw a weapon pointed at him. There was no evidence of that and clearly the jury didn’t believe him. He failed the “reasonable man” standard. Now the case is complicated by the fact that the politically motivated prosecutor grossly overcharged Dunn with 1st degree murder, which it clearly was not. 1st degree usually requires premeditation and this was obviously not a premeditated incident but rather an unplanned emotional confrontation that spiraled out of control. I think if the prosecutor had charged 2nd degree murder that would have stuck. Instead we have the gross result of him only being convicted of attempted murder. In any case he will spend a long time in jail and the 2nd degree murder charge may be retried.

    regards,

    lwk

    1. I hear you on the “reasonable man” standard, even though there is no way to clearly define what “reasonable” means since everyone has their own view of what is and isn’t okay… but for the most part, I agree with that standard and its attempt to protect the majority.

      And I would assume it is fairly difficult to talk a premeditated mass murderer out of committing the crime; however, I wouldn’t rule it as impossible.

      When I heard about the Dunn case I thought about this post and our discussions about killing off of emotional rage. It’s truly a tragedy that people simply don’t learn from others’ mistakes.

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