Another school shooting. This time a middle school in Sparks, Nevada where a 12-year-old student shot and killed a popular math teacher and wounded two students before shooting and killing himself. This brings the school shooting tally for 2013 to sixteen by what I can find through a scattered online search. We’re on track for averaging two school shootings a month for the year.
It isn’t because God is absent on school campuses. It isn’t because we do not have armed people on campuses. School shootings are only an extension of the ongoing violence we tolerate in all areas of life. The accessibility of guns only adds to the already complex mix of bullying, abuse, mental illness, and personality instability prevalent in all of our lives.
School shootings are not a modern crisis either. In fact, the U. S. has a long, rich history of school shootings! The earliest known school shooting was the Pontiac Rebellion School massacre in July 1764. Four Lenape Native American warriors shot and killed the schoolmaster Enoch Brown and nine children near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania. When the warriors returned to their village, the Delaware chief rebuked them for their cowardice in killing children.
It’s now 2013 and here is where we stand in school shootings:
January 10, 2013 – Taft, California: A 16-year-old Taft High School student entered a science classroom with a 12 gauge shotgun and opened fire. A 16-year-old male student was shot in the chest and critically wounded. Another student was shot at, but was not hit. The classroom teacher, Ryan Heber, convinced him to drop his weapon, which he did and was later arrested. Mr. Heber suffered a minor wound from being grazed by a shotgun pellet during the ordeal. The teacher and the student that was shot at were believed to be intended targets of the gunman. On January 14, the student gunman was charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm.
January 12, 2013 – Detroit, Michigan: A 16-year-old boy was shot in a field across the school campus after a basketball game at Osborn High School. He was hospitalized in serious condition.
January 15, 2013 – St. Louis, Missouri: A part-time student shot and wounded an administrator in his office at Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. The student gunman shot and wounded himself. He was charged with three felony charges, including assault.
January 15, 2013 – Hazard, Kentucky: Two people were shot and killed and a third person was wounded at the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College. The third victim, 12-year-old, died from her wounds the next day. A 21-year-old was arrested and charged with three counts of murder.
January 22, 2013 – Houston, Texas: Two men got into an argument on the Lone Star College–North Harris campus. One of the men pulled out a gun and shot and injured the other man, a student. A maintenance man suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. The gunman accidentally shot himself in the leg. After the shooting, the gunman fled into the woods and was arrested hours later.
January 29, 2013 – Midland City, Alabama: Known as the 2013 Alabama bunker hostage crisis, a man in his 60s, boarded a school bus and shot and killed the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66. The gunman abducted a 6-year-old child and held him hostage in an underground bunker. The gunman was shot to death by police several days later.
January 31, 2013 – Atlanta, Georgia: A 14-year-old student was shot and wounded in the back of the neck at Price Middle School by another student. The two boys were arguing with each other before one took out a handgun and firing multiple shots at him. A teacher was also injured during the shooting. The student gunman was disarmed by a school resource officer. He was charged with aggravated assault.
March 18, 2013 – Orlando, Florida: A 30-year-old student at the University of Central Florida pulled a fire alarm in a school dormitory. According to plans he had written, he intended to attract a large amount of people inside the building to shoot them. He then pointed a handgun at his roommate and threatened to shoot him inside their dormitory room. He released his roommate who ran into a bathroom to call 911 before then fatally shooting himself. Authorities found an assault weapon, a couple hundred rounds of ammunition and four homemade bombs inside his backpack.
April 19, 2013 – Cambridge, Massachusetts: Two men responsible for the bomb attack at the Boston Marathon, shot and killed a 26-year-old MIT campus police officer.
April 29, 2013 – Cincinnati, Ohio: A 17-year-old student shot himself in a suicide attempt at La Salle High School.
June 7, 2013 – Santa Monica, California: Six people, including the shooter died and four others were wounded at or near the campus of Santa Monica College when a lone gunman opened fire on the school campus library after shooting at several cars and a city bus at separate crime scenes. The gunman was fatally wounded by responding police officers. Among the dead were the shooter’s father and brother, both of whom died inside a house that was set on fire a mile or so from the Santa Monica College campus.
August 29, 2013 – Decatur, Georgia: A 20-year-old man with an AK-47 fired six shots inside the front office of elementary school Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy. After the gunman fired the shots, he barricaded himself in the office and police at the scene returned fire. Antoinette Tuff, a woman who worked in the front office, called 9-1-1, talking him down and helping him surrender to the police before anyone was hurt.
August 30, 2013 – Winston-Salem, North Carolina: A 15-year-old student was shot in the neck and shoulder at Carver High School. An 18-year-old student was apprehended by a school resource officer without incident. The shooting was believed to be the result of an ongoing dispute between the suspect and the victim.
October 15, 2013 – Austin, Texas: A 17-year-old student fatally shot himself with a handgun in the courtyard of Lanier High School during lunch.
October 21, 2013 – Sparks, Nevada: A 12-year-old student opened fire in the back of Sparks Middle School, critically wounding two students. He then shot and killed a teacher before shooting himself.
Clearly, people who choose violence have a host of issues that contribute to their decision to use firearms. Universal background checks and limiting the availability of firearms will lessen guns being used – and it needs to happen – but it won’t end the use of violence we do to ourselves and others.