School Shootings and Gun Control

school shootings

There is no doubt the influx of possible and drawn out school shootings are part of the gun control debate in America. Ever since the school shootings that occurred at Columbine High School in 1999 were followed publicly throughout the nation, it appears the probability of school shootings is on the rise. Such occurrences will most likely continue to be televised with people asking why and indicating if any signs were apparent. Other times, there may be news that a plot to commit a mass shooting at a school, or elsewhere was prevented because clear signs were made available that a plan had indeed been drawn out.

According to Andres Jauregui of Huffington Post, Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington State was under lockdown on Friday, Oct. 24 after a student named Jaylen Fryberg opened fire in the school cafeteria. Fryberg killed another student and injured four others before killing himself, with recent reports indicating another student who had been wounded had also recently died. Fryberg was reportedly a freshman who was a popular football player and was just crowned homecoming prince.

Jauregui reported a motive was unknown, but that according to The Seattle Times, a student had said Fryberg was angry at a girl who would not date him. That student was unfortunately shot. Also, tweets had been sent out which reportedly indicated “anger and frustration,” according to Jauregui.

School shootings and gun control are tricky subjects due to the devastating effects both can have on lives. To start, gun control can limit freedoms protected by the Constitution. It is a debate which ignites passion on both sides – one which demands protection of rights found under the law and the other which seems to beg for amendments, whether by federal law or individual state law in order to address protection and human rights over gun usage.

Maria L. La Ganga and James Queally of the Los Angeles Times wrote on how the state of Washington is ironically facing two initiatives in November which addresses gun control measures. According to La Ganga and Queally, Initiative 594 would require “universal background checks” for all gun sales, while Initiative 591 would prohibit these checks unless Congress passed a “national standard” for all regions.

La Ganga and Queally stated Alan Gottlieb, who is a chairman for a committee of Right to Keep and Bear Arms, had stated proponents of Initiative 594 took less than two hours to push their agenda due to the school shooting tragedy, not realizing the incident has nothing to due with background checks. Dan Gross, who is president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which is based in Washington D.C. had stated the initiative will still save lives.

Gun control and school shootings appear to be in the same context of debate due to potential tragedies which can be unleashed by a person holding a gun. After all, how does someone stop a person on a rampage with a gun or other threatening tool except to either call law enforcement, or practice self-defense. Many gun owners will argue the reason he or she has a gun in the first place is due to these types of reasons, so that he or she may defend him or herself against a person who is committing a crime.

School shootings appear to be a different situation than domestic violence occurrences, even if the reason behind a school shooting involves a domestic dispute. In this recent case with Fryberg, it appears the reason behind the violence was due to a domestic situation involving family and a source of affection. Perhaps Fryberg was jealous of other family members and a girl whom he adored. Perhaps there were signs, such as those tweets which seemed to express frustration, which would have helped an adult at home pinpoint a problem.

There may always be “what ifs” with regards to gun control and school shootings because in the past there have been signs which may have alerted authorities to act on preventing these types of tragedies, or other mass shootings. For instance, there were signs with Isla Vista shooter, Elliot Rodger.

According to sources found in another Guardian Liberty Voice article, the mother of Rodger had called police on different occasions to check on him due to videos he had posted on YouTube. Rodger had even admitted in a document he left behind that if police were to have conducted a thorough investigation, he would have been found out and his plan to rage an attack would have been prevented. It was not and he was able to kill six people near the University of California in Santa Barbara before ultimately taking his own life.

There will not always be clear signs that an attack will take place, particularly with school shootings, but there are usually signs from a person who is intending to harm others. These signs can often be found in behavior, messages, and even casual conversation. Reports on those who had planned an attack but were unsuccessful attributed others who had expressed concern over conversation or electronic messages in which a person had shown signs of intent to harm or act out.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took place in December of 2012 in Connecticut, gun control has been a huge issue for both politicians and law enforcement. After all, the shooting of 20 children and six educators appeared to be unique in that innocent little kids were the majority of victims. In fact, Yahoo! News recently reported on a Reuters article which stated the shooter, Adam Lanza, may have been improperly assessed by therapists at the Yale Child Study Center.

Yahoo! News reported that Scott Jackson of Sandy Hook Advisory Commission had stated a report commissioned by the Office of the Child Advocate in Connecticut had indicated Lanza may have been able to become a non-violent adult. Due to the “failure to properly assess” the mental health of Lanza as a child and teenager, his “propensity for violence” could have been avoided or diminished if he had been diagnosed properly and received the treatment he needed, the Yahoo! News report stated Jackson as saying.

If cases involving mass shootings, particularly school shootings point more toward the mental health of a violent person rather than a gun control issue, how would states and the federal government address these types of issues? To place tougher restrictions on obtaining a gun would seem to only partially touch the base of a tricky situation. After all, it appears Lanza and Fryberg were both able to get a hold of a gun through their very own home and commit school shootings.

Thus, it appears situations involving school shootings may lean more towards the mental health of young individuals who are able to gain access to a gun found in or near the home. This is not to state that gun owners are responsible for the action of others who take their guns without permission, although it still raises concerns over the governing of gun safety.

School shootings and gun control matters both involve safety issues over gun ownership. Government officials may simply have to work with schools, parents, and mental health specialists on how to better protect students, as well as recognize signs of at-risk ones. Though officials cannot prevent every possible attack from happening, particularly that of school shootings, communities may be better able to come together and speak on how to recognize signs of troubled youth, as well as how to protect loved ones.

Opinion By Liz Pimentel

Sources:
Huffington Post
L.A. Times
Guardian Liberty Voice
Yahoo! News

Image Credit:
Photo of Hope Columbine Memorial Library at Columbine High School provided by QqqqqqCreative Common License

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