A Few Words on the Staggering School Shooting Epidemic

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A commentary about the staggering school shooting epidemic we're facing in the United States. Why is it happening and what can we do to stop it?

Being a child of the 80’s I didn’t see much in the way of violence in the schools. There was the occasional fight that kids started after the last school bell or on the playground, but that’s where it ended for me. These days things seem to have escalated with the school shooting epidemic becoming a common occurrence in modern society.

“Since 2013, there have been at least 162 school shootings in America – an average of nearly one a week.”


school shooting epidemicThat’s not to say there were no shootings when I was younger. In fact, in 1980 when I was just in kindergarten there were 4 separate acts of gun violence in schools that claimed the lives of 4 people in Arkansas, Texas, Michigan, and Alabama. School shootings are nothing new. In fact, the first recorded school shooting occurred in 1891.

The first known mass shooting in the U.S. where students were shot, was on April 9, 1891, when 70 year old, James Foster fired a shotgun at a group of students in the playground of St. Mary’s Parochial School, Newburgh, New York, causing minor injuries to several of the students.


TJ Lane

T.J. Lane unbuttons his shirt during sentencing Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Chardon, Ohio. Lane, was given three-lifetime prison sentences without the possibility of parole Tuesday for opening fire last year in a high school cafeteria in a rampage that left three students dead

It begs the question just why are there so many acts of violence as of late? That being within the past 20 years or so. Is it the state of our mental health as a country? Is there more abuse, beatings, bullying or hazing these days? Have drugs become an out of control rampant problem that surpasses issues of years past? Is it that we are exposed to more stories like this because of technology, the Internet or social media? Are we dropping the ball as parents or is there something else that’s making us monsters that act or react with such violence?

I don’t claim to have the answers. I did, however, want to post this thought as a concerned father of 2. Just what is fueling us all with rage and making us kill rather than finding a better way out? What happened to the days where we rose our fists, exchanged blows and the better man won? However, we both walked away bruised, bloody, but alive. I’m not an advocate of violence, I’m just a concerned citizen looking for answers.

The Most Violent School Shooting Epidemics Since 1998

There have been a number of school shootings that have occurred in the recent years. The following devastating list is the tragedies with the most injuries and fatalities. Again there were 4 people killed in schools in 1980 when I was just a kindergartner.

March 24, 1998 in Craighead County, Arkansas (The Westside Middle School Massacre)
13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden shot four students and one teacher wounding 11 others. Golden set off the alarm and took a position about 100 yards from the school and waited for students to file out. The 2 boys then fired on students as they left the building. Golden’s weapon was his grandfather’s Remington deer rifle.

May 21, 1998 Springfield, Oregon
15-year-old Kip Kinkel kills both of his parents before driving to Thurston High School with a semi-automatic rifle. He shot and killed 4 students and wounded 23 others. Kinkel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 111 years in prison.

Columbine Shooting Security CameraApril 20, 1999 Littleton, Colorado (Columbine)
The infamous Columbine shooting was perpetrated by 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold. The 2 planted a firebomb several miles away intending it to be a diversion to buy them more time while they walked through the school with a small arsenal of weapons killing teachers and students alike. 12 students and 1 teacher were killed and 21 other were wounded. Shortly after the massacre in the library, the duo committed suicide.

October 2, 2006 Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania
Charles Roberts a 32-year-old milk truck driver shot and killed 6 Amish girls and wounding 3 others. Roberts then shot himself.

April 16, 2007 Blacksburg, Virginia
This particular school shooting claimed the lives of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech. 17 students and faculty were wounded in two consecutive attacks the same day before committing suicide. To date, this is the deadliest attack by a single gunman in US history.

February 14, 2008 DeKalb, Illinois
27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak opened fire in a Northern Illinois University classroom with a shotgun killing 5 people and injuring 21 more before committing suicide.

April 2, 2012 Oakland, California
L. Goh shot and killed 7 students with a handgun and wounded 3 more at Oikos University Christian college. He stole one of the victim’s cars and escaped only to be caught later. In 2013, he was deemed mentally unfit for trial and committed for psychological treatment. He fled the scene, stealing a victim’s car, and was apprehended hours later nearby. One Goh was charged with seven counts of murder. In January 2013, Goh was determined to be mentally unfit for trial and committed for treatment for paranoid schizophrenia.

school shooting epidemic
December 14, 2012 Newtown, Connecticut (Sandy Hook)
20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 26 people and himself in this massacre. He killed his mother before loading up 4 guns and drove to Sandy Hook Elementary. His first victims were 20 1st graders all ages 6 and 7. He then went on to kill 4 teachers the school principal, and one school psychologist. 2 other victims were hurt before Two other persons were injured before Lanza committed suicide just as police arrived.

October 1, 2015 Roseburg, Oregon (Umpqua Community College shooting)Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26 fired on students in a hall on the Umpqua Community College campus. Mercer killed 9 people and wounded 9 others.

Accounts from a witness to the massacre said the shooter told people to stand up before asking whether they were Christian or not. If they responded yes they were immediately shot in the head. If they refused to say they were shot in the leg.

Mercer committed suicide in the midst of a gunfight with police.

How do we Stop the School Shooting Epidemic?

I don’t believe the onslaught of violence has anything to do with violent media, video games, music or any other such nonsense people might have brought up in the late 80’s. I believe it comes down to parents being present. As a father of 2, I’m quite active in my children’s lives. I talk to them every day and teach them right from wrong. I’m not worried about them bullying other kids let alone anything close to the atrocities that litter this page.

I’ll continue to teach my children right from wrong, but I don’t have a connection with all of humanity. It’s all of our responsibility to stay close with our kids and impart life lessons. And I know this is a ridiculous statement. It’s a lot of Nature vs. Nurture, but we all come from different backgrounds. Not everyone has parents that care let alone are willing to spend time with their kids rather than abuse them. So I don’t know what the answer is.

If I were a religious man I suppose I’d pray so I guess, in turn, I’ll do my best to be ever vigilant, continue to love my children and be present.

If you liked this article you might want to check out my post on Jack Kevorkian Physician Humanitarian.



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