Until Monday's shooting, the worst school shooting in the U.S. was at the University of Texas in Austin, August 1, 1966. Charles Whitman went to the top of a tower and started shooting at the students below. He killed 15 people, starting with his mother and wife the night before, and wounded 31 people.
Here is an overview of some of the more recent, major school shootings at American schools and universities:
March 1998: at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two boys, 13 and 11 years old, set off a fire alarm and killed four students and a teacher as they came out of the school.
April 1999: Columbine. I have to say that Wikipedia made the same mistake i did: Columbine is not the second deadliest school shooting after today's shooting; it is the Texas one.
On April 20, 1999, two teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a rampage, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 24 others before killing themselves in Littleton, Colorado.
January 2002: a student who had been dismissed from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia killed the dean, a professor and another student; he wounded three others.
October 2002: a student flunking out of the University of Arizona's School of Nursing opened fire and killed three of his professors then committed suicide.
March 2005: a 16-year-old high school student gunned down five students, a teacher and a security guard at Red Lake High School in northern Minnesota. He then killed himself. He also murdered his grandfather and his grandfather's companion on the Chippewa Indian reservation.
September 27, 2006: a drifter abducted six high school girls in Bailey, Colorado, sexually assaulted them, shot one to death and killed himself. This is different from the other shootings because it was not done by a student.
September 29, 2006: a 15-year-old student killed his school principal in Wisconsin after warning another student, saying, "You better run."
October 2, 2006: Charles Carl Roberts, a milk truck driver, went into the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsyvania, shot 10 girls aged 6 to 14 then killed himself. 5 of the girls were killed. This was the shooting that took place in a one-room Amish schoolhouse. Again, this was not done by a student, so I would classify this as a different type of crime.
In the two shootings committed by older men who were not students, the crimes were directed against women and were motivated by misogyny.
I was hoping an overview might help us try to piece together some understanding of the school shooting phenomenon. The only main characteristic is that all the shootings were done by male students. And they were done predominantly, though not always, by white students; this shooting today is one exception, as it is possible the man was Asian-American. (This was just confirmed on the news.)
Obviously the other main characteristic in school shootings is that it is easy for people to get guns, even if they are under-age.
According to Reuters, there are now numerous acadmic studies on the causes of stress, depression and violence in youth.
People who advocate more gun control state that the availability of guns in the U.S. have made it easier for people to commit murder.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said:
"What have we done as a nation in the 8 years since Columbine about this problem? We compound the trade of the day by our failure to deal with the proliferation of guns in our country."
Nadine Kaslow, a professor and chief psychologist at Emory School of Medicine, said:
"They [the shooters] are sometimes mentally ill and may equally be reacting to a trauma, either real or imagined, that they have suffered, and decide to take that trauma out on everyone else."
That's what I notice: that people who commit the shootings blame everyone else for whatever is going on in their lives.
"We are bombarded with violent images in our culture. We have a culture of violence here (in the United States). Kids will go home and watch this on TV."
I have to add: we are a country that, in recent years, is constantly at war. This does not set a good example for our children. I will end here.
Note: now on the news it is said that the motivation for today's shooting might have been an argument with a girlfriend. I must add that besides living in a culture of violence, we also live in a culture that demeans and hates women.