Episode I: School Shootings “A new trend in gun violence”
Welcome to the first episode of The “Art” of War. I would like to offer my opinions on the current tragedies involving active shooters in our nation. Murders have taken place in public locations since the earliest recorded history of man. Mass killings are nothing new. When these incidents happen at our places of worship and where we educate our children, then the heartbreak and trauma is multiplied a thousand-fold.
The first recorded mass killing in a school was July 26, 1764 in Greencastle, Pennsylvania with 10 dead and 2 injured. This happened at Enock Brown school during Pontiac’s War or Rebellion. Four Delaware American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and nine children. Only two children survived. The schoolmaster was shot with a firearm, and the children were murdered with bladed and impact weapons of the day.
November 12, 1840 in Charlottesville, Virginia, John Anthony Gardner Davis, a law professor at the University of Virginia, was shot by student Joseph Semmes, and died from his wound three days later.
November 2, 1853 in Louisville, Kentucky. Student Matthew Ward took a pistol to school, where he shot the schoolmaster Mr. Butler as revenge for what Ward thought was excessive punishment of his brother the day before.
August 16, 1856 in Florence, Alabama, the schoolmaster had a tame sparrow and had warned the students not to harm it, threatening death. One of the boys stepped on the bird and killed it; he was afraid to return to school but did so. After lessons, the master took the boy into a private room and strangled him to death. The boy’s father went to the school and shot the schoolmaster.
The list goes on and on till modern times. Humans committing murder because of passion, greed, or mental issues as occurred since man has walked the earth.
With the high school massacre in Parkland, Fl. we were bombarded with facts and figures suggesting that the problem of school shootings was out of control. We were informed, for example, that since 2013 there has been an average of one school shooting a week in the U.S., and 18 since the beginning of this year. These statistics stretched the definition of a school shooting.
“Every town for Gun Safety” (https://everytown.org/), reported that there have been 290 school shootings since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., more than five years ago. However, very few of these were anything akin to Sandy Hook or Parkland. Sure, they all involved a school of some type (including technical schools and colleges) as well as a firearm, but the outcomes were hardly similar. Nearly half of the 290 were completed or attempted suicides, accidental discharges of a gun, or shootings with not a single individual being injured. Of the remainder, the clear majority involved either one fatality or none.
Since 1990, there have been 22 shootings at elementary and secondary schools in which two or more people were killed, not counting those perpetrators who committed suicide. Five of these incidents have occurred over the past five-plus years since 2013, claiming the lives of 27 victims (17 at Parkland), the latter half of the 1990s witnessed seven multiple-fatality shootings with a total of 33 killed (13 at Columbine).
The 1997-98 school year saw four multiple-fatality shooting sprees at the hands of armed students (in Pearl, Miss.; West Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Springfield, Ore.). President Clinton formed a White House expert committee to advise him after this rash of shooting. Ten years later, President Bush convened a White House Conference on School Safety in the wake of multiple-fatality incidents during his administration. No lasting solutions came out these actions.
One shooting in a school or any public place is one too many, however we cannot pass feel good legislation that does nothing at all. We have laws on the books and procedures in place that are not being adhered to.
Many states fail to fully report felony convictions to the federal government, either in a timely manner or at all. Failure to properly and promptly report these convictions creates a breakdown in the NCIS (National Crime Information Center) which is the national data base used for background checks when a firearm is purchased (Form 4473).
The deinstitutionalization of our mental health facilities and not having a suitable way to vet and report persons who are having issues that may lead to mass shootings is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Banning a firearm is not the answer, not to use a cliché, but it is a “Heart” and “Mind” issue.