Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy — who has become a vocal advocate for gun control legislation – responded to the recurring “school shootings” while speaking on the Senate floor. He said, “This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting,” he said. “It only happens here — not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but because of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else1.”
None of us can ever forget the pace of bloodshed from mass shootings that happens, nowhere else, but in our country. Gun Violence Archive has used the FBI derived definition for mass shooting: FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter2. A report on mass shooting gives a total of 346 mass shooting incidents in 2017. Comparatively, 2016 gives a total of 384 mass shootings.Mass shootings that occurred in schools since 1949 in the history of USA accounts to thirty-five deadly incidents till date3.
Parents like us, send their kids to school with a sense of security. They assume that at the end of the day their kid would come back home happy and safe. Alas!! What if the kid doesn’t return at all… or if he/she returns home traumatized with a story of his/her classmate being shot with a gun… It sounds so scary and insecure. Just imagine a live scene. It is not just the victim who dies… it is the entire community that suffers the aftermath.
Nevertheless, I know that fear cannot compare to what those sixteen innocent children and a guiltless teacher of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida felt as the gunshots rang out, bullets flew through the hallway of their school, and their teacher and classmates were gunned down. How malicious the intent was?
When an ordinary bus ride to school became anything but not a normal ride, when the group of students of Forest City high school bus were hit by a pellet. Everybody in the bus started freaking out and especially when one of the students found a bullet in her hair. Imagine the scars these kids would be growing up with!
These are just a few realities…there is a huge list of such dreadfully tragic incidents4.
Our nation’s schools should be the safest spaces in our community. They should not be the places of horror. Do you think our schools are safe anymore? NO! After having read about the terrible school shootings I wonder if any of the locations inside the school premises are safe anymore. It is an uncomfortable reality, but certainly a cause for concern that our schools are no more safe harbors for our kids. It is a shame! May it be the hallway, the lobby, class, the cafeteria, the parking lot, the play area… Shooting takes place anywhere and everywhere. All these alleged school shootings comprise a school of some type (an institution for educating children: it may include technical schools, colleges or universities) as well as a firearm for sure, but the causes and the outcomes vary vividly. Most causes
include children related causes (childhood distress5, attention seeking attitude, mental illness7, Gun lobby, less firmness in following protocols at school and the state and federal gun control laws).
Prevention is the mantra to resolve these mammoth phenomena. I have profoundly studied the causes of the school shooting rampage. After a rigorous study I observed that by introducing prevention strategies (gun control laws) we can somehow reduce and gradually deplete the frequency and scale of this lethal gun violence. I strongly advocate gun control but, gun control is not the entire answer, EDUCATION IS!
- As happened in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the perpetrator had already announced his intentions a year ago. Government officials should keep track of all such updates. Nikolas Cruz – the young man who committed this mass murder sent out multiple “red flag” warnings on how dangerous he is going to be. People in that community have lamented the fact that they did not intervene in such a way as to restrain him from acting on his violent impulses. It is important to recognize these signs in individuals and to intervene whenever appropriate. But far more effective is to act before any of those signs appear, and the best way to do that is through public health approaches. Primary prevention through policies that improve social, cultural, and economic conditions, not to mention reducing access to guns, is far more effective than all the police, doctors and hospitals combined, and intervening only after tragedies have struck. All alarming signs should be acted on in a timely manner.
- Strengthen the teacher student relationship. Teachers should identify the mental makeup of their students. They should be trained in to identifying symptoms of childhood stress and violent behavior, and intervene promptly for needy kids. This will go a long way in stopping anything alarmingly notorious and fatal in a childhood environment. They should be trained in conversational techniques in discouraging kids in violent behavior without being rude. They should be aware of bullying targets and educate their class about the dangers of bullying and also focus on coping mechanisms from bullying. Teachers must closely keep track of social media activity of children and prevent incidents of cyber bullying.
Working on intrinsic motivation and emphasizing coping skills, self-esteem and self-worth issues on a routine basis. It should not be limited to just the mandatory annual assembly events, but daily affirmations in school going kids. This is a long and painstaking process, but certainly will be beneficial in the long run. Implementing policy level changes to this effect is easier said than done but certainly worth giving it a try.
- Parents should make sure that firearms at home are out of reach of children. I wonder why parents retain guns at home? As Americans we have seen it in our culture to hold them, may be for personal protection from an invader. Factually speaking, it has long been known that guns in the home are far more likely to kill those who live in the home – whether from suicide, domestic violence, or accident – than they are to kill or disable any home invader. Let’s make the world a safe place to live in not by guns but by love, care and compassion. There should be an intense debate on gun control and restriction of gun licenses for assault weapons especially to be held for personal protection for those who have young children.
- Let’s aim at providing the complete attention to our children. If in case a child is predisposed to personality or psychotic disorders, easy access to medical care should be provided and the required care should be dispensed in a timely and cost-effective manner. Mental health awareness must be raised. Yes, there is awareness of mental illness and the stigma has been greatly lessened from where it was in the past, but there is still that view that there is something wrong if a person seeks help. Television shows tend to focus on the extreme, which of course is for good ratings, but irresponsible, as it makes it seem that less severe depression, psychosis or anxiety is not something that is to be taken seriously.
- After each mass shooting, politicians offer their thoughts and prayers. I have yet to see our politicians or mainstream media respond to one of these unspeakable tragedies with actions and not just words. Hundreds of such shootings have occurred6 but, there is no meaningful discussion of what we can do to stop this epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in our schools in our country. We need a campaign to listen to our kids and teachers. We need to work with and inspire them to channelize their feelings into groundbreaking work for good before it festers in them unresolved and explodes. The gun lobby has been very successful in numbing the sensitivities of people to this epidemic and its slaughter. At the same time, it has worked as a curse in disguise. Since we have observed that the gun lobby has funneled millions of dollars into schools to promote shooting sports in high schools8,9.
- I know politicians across the board benefit from the gun lobby. But I also know that mere politicking is incomparable to the scourge of gun violence affecting our society and the impending disastrous consequences of our policies we are seemingly going to see in our future. This will only happen when politicians realize they have more to fear from all of us together than they do from the gun lobby. And that starts with making our voices heard. Act to make our communities safer from this mass epidemic of gun violence. This vicious cycle must end. And it will end… with us.
To understand the gun lobby’s impact on our political process, look no further than the NRA’s spending during the 2016 election. In that cycle alone, the NRA spent $55 million on electoral races across the country.
Here’s how it works: Each election, the NRA spends tens of millions of dollars to elect candidates who will block progress on gun control measures. It gives the impression that the government is filled with loads of funding from the NRA. Our efforts on gun violence prevention should be directed towards defeating NRA-funding.
- Expanding comprehensive background checks is just one of the many legislative solutions to help reduce our country’s absurd levels of gun We must have new gun control laws to keep all Americans safe. We should enact measures which ensure guns don’t fall into the hands of the wrong people. Nothing upsets me more than the sheer inability of our nation to impose stricter gun control.
- Zero tolerance policies should be advocated by the federal body. Putting a ban on assault weapons, fixing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and banning bump stocks run hand in hand. We need to make a serious attempt to make a good faith effort to try and end this carnage.
- What do you think our role as responsible citizens of this society demands from us? We should show our disavowal to gun violence by participating and organizing nationwide marches and demonstrations for better gun control laws in America. Not just mourn the victims who faced the deadly scenes, but gather masses to raise their voices loud to put a stop on this at all cost. Condemn it! We must create mass awareness. It was seen live when, thousands of students, teachers and parents poured out of classrooms in the US on March 14th, in an unprecedented expression of mourning and a demand for action to stem the country’s epidemic of gun violence as a nationwide gun violence protest10. Let the people learn to say NO TO GUNS!
- There is overwhelming evidence that the rate of gun ownership in any population correlates with the rate of gun deaths in that population. For example, U.S. states that have significantly higher rates of gun ownership also have higher rates of homicides, suicides and “accidental” gun deaths. Countries’ rates of gun ownership almost exactly correlate with their rates of gun deaths, with the U.S. as a complete outlier in both. Do you find any strict gun control laws to limit the size of gun ownership? Despite the fact that one-gun shot is estimated to be seven times more likely to cause a death than one stabbing by a knife. That is among the reasons that guns are virtually always the weapons that cause mass murders: You can kill far more people more quickly with a gun than you can with a knife or any other readily available weapon. Ninety-six Americans are killed each day by guns, and Americans overall are “25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries”, gun control advocates say.
- Don’t you think, guns protect their owners from the violence of others when they are used for self-defense? There a thin line between self-defense and deadly force. According to a CNN report President Trump is doubling down on his support for the idea of arming school teachers as a protective and preventive measure against school shootings11. Trump and other Republicans suggest the possibility of arming teachers after the school shooting – and Florida lawmakers moved closer to do that this week. A school safety bill that, would allow up to 10 school personnel to be armed, narrowly passed the Florida state House in March, and Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, signed it into law. Moreover, on Twitter, the President promoted the idea of having “highly trained, gun adept” teachers and coaches in schools who could confront a shooter before first responders arrived or serve as a “deterrent to the cowards that do this.”
Well, I personally believe this to be one of the biggest blunder. We already have 88 guns per 100 people!! Do we need more?? We don’t need more guns, we need better gun control! The thought of a school teacher going for a gun license as soon as he/she qualifies the teaching certification examination sounds weird. This would not solve the purpose, as the teacher who attains the gun license, must be trained in gun combat. Recurring training schedules then need to be introduced in their already hefty curriculum. Well, if this becomes a policy one day, is it not likely to not see averseness in teachers?
According to the F.B.I., in 2015 private citizens with guns committed 268 “justifiable homicides” to defend themselves from someone they perceived as dangerous to them. But during that same year, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that 489 Americans died from “unintentional firearms deaths,” many of whom were children. This substantiates that arming our teachers, doesn’t always keep students safe. Eventually this will not resolve gun violence. So, Stop the wrong people from getting guns.
Lately, on February 13th a teacher accidentally fired a gun in a classroom at Seaside High School, in California, injuring three students. In my opinion teachers should not be armed at all. This will only imply- More guns will lead to more deaths. Is this what we are going to teach our children? Violence to stop violence… NO! A school is a place where our children learn to create life not to end it.
- Incorporating safety drills as a routine procedure in the schools. During the 2013-14 school year, more than two-thirds of public-school students have participated in drills for “procedures to be performed in selected crisis.” The procedures include passive “lockdown drills,” in which students are locked inside their classrooms and told to hide from unnamed threats; “active shooter drills,” which name the threat; and ALICE(Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), a training procedure developed by a Texas law-enforcement officer in 2001 that offers “option-based, proactive, survival strategies.” These strategies often include asking students to throw school supplies at the shooter as they try to flee. If such drills are regularly put in practice it at least prepares our children on how to act in case of unexpected tragedies like school shootings. Working safety drills into school curriculum could change things immensely.
Every student of the school could become a killer, or a change maker. It is up to us to give them the necessary moral consistency, inspiration and support to become the latter. Our goal is to build a movement to reverse the gun violence’s alarming rates over the decades in such a way that this catastrophe ends one day. We should aim to provide our children a safe, secure and a better world to live in.
Who in your opinion is accountable for the school massacres? The school’s dropout turned perpetrator or the appeasing society or the self-styled politicians? What would you do to stop gun violence at schools? I would appreciate if any of your thoughts or suggestions can stimulate our society to put an end to this awful rampage. Feel free to share your comments about mass shootings in school, gun violence and gun control below.