• Annabelle Reynolds

Gun Violence in Schools

It’s no secret that in the last twenty years there has been a huge increase in the amount of guns in schools. There was one shooting in particular that seemed to be what really set this string of events off. The Columbine shooting. Twelve students and one teacher were tragically shot by two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. This was just the beginning of a culture of gun violence in the United States’ school system.

Since the tragic Columbine shooting, there have been a numerous amount of others, many resulting in deaths of students and/or staff members. As of November of 2019, there have been 45 documented school shootings in the United States, two happening in Wisconsin in early December. In each of these documented shootings, at least one person had been shot/injured, not including the shooter themselves.

So the question is, why have we seen such an increase in school shootings in the last two decades? One reason is that guns are too easy to buy. While minors aren’t technically allowed to buy guns, there are people who sell them to minors illegally, or sometimes minors may have access to guns their parents have bought in the past.

A pattern that has been brought to light throughout recent shootings is that a lot of them happened on Fridays in the afternoon. Mike Clumpner, a sworn police officer that specializes in active shooting, believes it may have something to do with it being the end of a week, where stress has just built and built. “Today we have kids who are isolated inside -- playing video games and glued to their (tablets) and everything else -- that they don’t learn those problem-solving skills,” Clumpner said. Fatal school shooters in the past have predominantly been those who, like Mike Clumpner mentioned, play first person shooter video games.

There was a platform online called 8chan, where gamers (and white supremacists) who mostly played first person shooter games, would go to talk. They called video games “target practice” and referred to the death from a synagogue shooting as a “score of only one”. This just proves the desensitization many gamers are feeling towards death, especially towards marginalized groups, and there’s something we need to do about it.

In almost every case of a school shooting, there is a mental health aspect. The majority of mass public shooters have struggled with untreated serious mental illness, and many have displayed signs of delusional thinking, paranoia, and/or irrational feelings of oppression from schizophrenia or bipolar-related psychosis. The chance someone will become a shooter can also have to do with the family they come from. If a child feels certain neglect from parents or family members, it can lead them to act out in varying degrees of violence or severity. Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone who has a mental illness or plays video games is likely to become a school shooter. It is just a similarity professionals have seen amongst many of the shooters of the last two decades.

How do we see school shootings affect students in schools, even ones that haven’t had an issue? Many students around the country are terrified to go to school because of the history the US has had with guns and violence in schools. “The thing that concerns me the most about gun control is the fact that you never know who has a gun. If you upset the person that happens to have one, it could cost you your life,” Parker Olsen (11) said.

Gun control is such a pressing issue because people are still being targeted and attacked in our communities. Students around the country are standing up and having gun control strikes, Madison’s most recent one being in March of 2017. Students and staff alike are desperately trying to make a change so no more lives have to become statistics.

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