Litany of School Shootings Still Hasn’t Led to Changes

by Diane Dimond on June 16, 2014

Bad News After Bad News

Bad News … And More Bad News

News Announcer: “There’s been another school shooting. This time at the Troutdale High School in Oregon, about 16 miles east of Portland….”

I don’t want to write about this. It feels like screaming into the wilderness with no one listening. And I feel silly now admitting that I really thought things would change after the December 2012 mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

I honestly believed the senseless deaths of 26 little children and teachers (as well as one horribly misguided mother) in Connecticut was going to be a watershed event that would spur a host of new ideas to curb violence.

I was wrong. The sickening tally is in. Since the Newtown tragedy there have been 74 more shootings at American schools. That’s about one per week.  What’s wrong with us that we can’t stop this awful trend?

Poignant Sign Outside Sandy Hook Elementary

Poignant Sign Outside Sandy Hook Elementary

Roswell, New Mexico
St. Louis, Missouri
Orlando, Florida
Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia
Gray, Maine

A gun safety group named Everytown for Gun Safety has been keeping track of each time a gun is discharged on school property — schools from K-12 to trade schools and universities. It is happening in every region of the country.

Phoenix, Arizona
Houston and Austin, Texas
Arapahoe County, Colorado
Isla Vista, Santa Monica and Fresno, California

Assaults, accidental shootings, homicides and suicides witnessed by our children. Grisly and terrifying scenes they will likely never forget and may haunt them for years.

Imagine how your child would have reacted if they had been in the boy’s bathroom at the Davidson Middle School in Southgate, Michigan last March to witness 13-year-old Tyler Nichols shoot himself in the head.

Grief at Columbine - And Shootings Continue

Grief at Columbine – And Shootings Continue

Kids across America now have similar haunting memories etched into their psyche.

Hazard, Kentucky
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Grambling, Louisiana
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Memphis and Clarksville, Tennessee

Of the 74 school shootings since Newtown, 35 took place at institutions of higher learning. Think about that when you send your kid off to college. The remainder of the incidents, 39 at this writing, occurred in lower grade schools and it didn’t matter if they were public or private schools, religious or non-denominational. All schools are potential targets. Ponder that for a moment.

How would your child have reacted if she or she had been in the Sparks, Nevada classroom where 12-year-old Jose Reyes suddenly began to shout, “Why are you laughing at me” and pulled out a 9mm Ruger. He shot his teacher to death and wounded two of his young classmates. What could you possibly say or do to make it all better for your child after they had witnessed that?

A Too-Frequent Scene at U.S. Schools

A Too-Frequent Scene at U.S. Schools

Chicago, Illinois
Cincinnati, Kent and Lyndhurst, Ohio
Des Moines and Algona, Iowa
Milwaukee and Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Rapid City, South Dakota

The youngest shooter was a five-year-old who brought a gun in a backpack to Westside Elementary School in Frayser, Tennessee last August. The gun discharged in the cafeteria as students waited for the first bell. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The oldest gunman was a 53-year-old custodian who killed two fellow janitors on the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts campus in West Palm Beach, Florida last June.

Now, just this week, episode number 74 occurred at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon. A teenager with a rifle shot and killed a 14-year-old freshman and wounded a gym teacher before  killing himself.

This is the shocking reality of what we have allowed to become an almost regular occurrence. Yet communities seem stunned when it happens to them.

Gun Owners: Lock Up Your Weapons

Gun Owners: Lock Up Your Weapons

Christianburg, Virginia
Raytown, Missouri
Decatur, Georgia
Sardis, Mississippi
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The most discouraging section of the Everytown for Gun Safety summary concludes that, like the 15-year-old shooter in Oregon,  many of the under aged gunmen, “Had easy access to guns at home” or from other adults in their life.

Remember the Michigan youngster who took his own life in the boy’s room? His parents admitted the gun their son used had been stored in a box above their refrigerator – an unlocked box.

Let’s get real, folks. Common sense tells us kids don’t get guns by walking into a sporting goods store and buying one. Officials estimate there are more than 300 million privately owned firearms in the U.S.  That doesn’t count the guns used by law enforcement, the military or those illegally held. There are plenty of opportunities for a minor to get their hands on one.

Gun Locks Are Simple and Cheap to Buy

Gun Locks Are Simple and Cheap to Buy

If you are one of the millions of Americans who choose to own a gun SECURE IT. Buy a gun cabinet, a trigger lock or a simple lock box – and do it today. Regularly check to make sure your weapon is where you think it is. Routinely talk to your family about gun safety.

To anti-gun citizens, stop with the parrot-like calls for more gun and ammunition laws. We already have plenty of laws that are completely ignored.

Those who would use a gun in the commission of a crime are not deterred by words on a piece of paper. Put on your thinking caps because the reality is clear. Guns are a part of American life – love it or hate it – and we need to learn to come up with new solutions to the very real problem they can pose.

To members of the National Rifle Association: This is not an attack on your right to own firearms. This is not a call for a national registry of gun owners that your membership believes could be used against them at some future date. So, please, no angry e-mails about your constitutional rights.

Newtown Kids Still Suffer From This Day

This is a call to responsible gun owners everywhere to act responsibly so the rest of us can feel safer when we send our children off to school.

You carefully lock up your car;  do the same with your firearms.

Many schools already have X-ray machines at their entrances, continuous safety patrols and even police presence yet shootings still happen at places where our children are supposed to feel safe. We’re a nation of smart, determined people. Let’s fix that.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Abq Journal Reader Rob Noyes-Smith

“Dear Diane,

A very good and courageous article, Sat. June 14th in ABQ Journal.

If only we could find some more common sense people we could make the world a better place. Interestingly, I have lived and worked in seven other countries and only ever owned a shotgun in Canada. I now have a 9mm pistol which I enjoy target shooting with my sons but having been in the army, many years ago, we were always taught, keep the weapons under lock and key.”

Best Rob Noyes-Smith

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:31 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Gunhild Vetter writes:

“Dear Diane,

Enjoy reading your column, your North Dakota roots are sometimes showing, which is a good thing.

I had read your letter about the school shootings and later was going through some old papers and found a relevant quote from a Robert Heinlein novel: “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” Sounds like the good old USA today.

Have you ever wondered if there is a connection between the targets and what is being taught in those institutions. Everything is relative, no absolutes, nothing is right or wrong, there is no God. So if you don’t like something or someone, it is okay to go blow them away. What can we expect from an education system like this. There are a lot of good teachers but they are not allowed to teach children what they need to learn. The new system of common core is more about learning how to take tests than about learning new information.

Parents need to be involved in the life of their children. If they are good role models to their children, their children will grow up to be good citizens too. We see it all around us, but not enough. Too many parents are willing to let their children do whatever they want and than blame others for the bad behavior of their children.

In 1962 when prayer was removed from schools, it was the beginning of the downfall of our nation. Even though we are supposed to be a Christian nation, a minority of people who do not believe in God are allowed to dictate to the rest of the nation what can or cannot be done in our schools, not only in our relationship to our God, but they are bringing in all kinds of crazy curriculum like common core which sounds great that everybody will be at the same place in learning anywhere in our nation. It is in reality a method of dumbing down the general population and our future leaders so they can be controlled.

Like you said, we don’t need more laws, what we need is for our nation to turn back to God. If you read your Bible and understand all that it tells us has, is and will happen, we are in those last days of this age. Check out the four blood moons, one happened on April 15, 2014 – Passover. The next will be October 8, 2014 – Feast of Tabernacles. On March 20, 2015 there will be an eclipse. April 4, 2015 – Passover and September 28, 2015 – Feast of Tabernacles will be the last two blood moons. These are all signs God is giving his children that something is about to happen. Unless the US repents we will be in the worst of times, the economy is getting ready to crash, it is going to be a global thing.

The answer to what we can do is turn back to God. We need to be asking “What Would Jesus Do?” and what can we do to turn all this crazy behavior around so we will love and not hate our neighbor.”

Gunhild Vetter

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Joel Widman writes:

“I am a gun owner, in fact I own seven guns.
I am a member of the NRA.
I have a concealed carry permit and carry all the time for reasons not important to this note.
All of my guns are locked in a safe except the one that I’m carrying.
In my opinion we have enough gun laws except one that would really be effective which would be to require gun owners to keep their guns locked up and to make parents criminally responsible for the acts of
their children who obtain guns that are not locked up. That means that the parents have the same liability as if they pulled the trigger.”

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:33 pm

ABQ Journal Reader John Blaylock writes:

“Ms. Dimond,

You will no doubt receive many such mailings as the one below containing actual facts, not anti-gun rubbish.

The bottom line of the relatively few (though certainly too many) true “school shootings” has nothing to do with guns. It has everything to do with the psychos who use the gun as their weapon of choice. Would it matter if the children at Sandy Hook had been dispatched with any other type of weapon?

In each genuine case of mass shooting (in schools or otherwise) of which I have familiarity, the perpetrator was known well ahead of time by friends, family, schoolmates, and other associates, (even within the medical and legal communities) as mentally unstable and potentially dangerous to themselves and others.

These folks should have been confined to mental institutions by doctors and judges until they were determined, if ever, to be safe to return to public life. Just think how many innocents lives could be saved, if we proactively addressed these folks’ severe mental illness.

“Access to guns” is a largely irrelevant side issue. While it is trivially true that guns should not be readily accessible to young children, determined psychos can always get guns “on the street”. Criminals do that all the time, … and don’t bother to get “background checks”. But, that’s a subject for another day.

Thank you.”

John Blaylock
Los Alamos, NM

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Bob Adams writes:

“Diane:

You should be ashamed of yourself.

You blindly parroted the propaganda put out by Michael Bloomberg (Everytown for Gun Safety) and didn’t bother to check out if it was factual – which it isn’t.

Yes, we’re a nation of smart, determined people – smart enough not to fall for obvious propaganda.

School shootings are tragic – and so are the uneducated histrionics of those who try to exploit the tragedy by waving a bloody shirt.

You’ve lost my respect.”

Sincerely,
Bob Adams

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Mr. Adams:

Im sorry you can’t have respect for those who think differently from you. Honestly, were probably closer in opinion than you think. ~DD

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Mr. Adams responds:

Did you misunderstand what I said? I have a great deal of respect for those who think differently than I do. I have little respect for those who blindly repeat propaganda.

On the tragedy of actual school shootings, we agree. And that should not include statistics on criminals shot by police who coincidently expire on school grounds.

Now, should you take a look at the commonality of psychotropic medications used by the deranged shooters, you might be able to find some disturbing facts.

When I was young (many many years ago), guns were far more widely available and many youngsters had their own rifles. Many went hunting, by themselves, in the fields near our homes. And there were no school shootings. Why is that? My high school (built in 1957) actually had a shooting range in the basement, and students were allowed to bring their own rifles from home to shoot. I did – and I didn’t shoot anyone – and still haven’t.

What has changed? The proliferation of violence in the movies and TV? Back then, nothing was more violent than WWII and Korea. TV? Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger were pretty violent. But there were no school shootings. Or at least they were extremely rare. Think about it.

The last thing we need is a Michael Bloomberg (with his personal hatred of guns – except for his bodyguards) spending millions in propaganda campaigns to brainwash us into believing in superficial solutions to serious problems. What we need are real answers – and deep inside, you must know it – the same as I do.

Think about it……

Sincerely,
Bob Adams

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I respond to Mr. Adams:

Mr. Adams,

I’m not sure what your beef is. Perhaps you need to re-read the column. I CLEARLY stated that the Everytown tally was “every time a gun had been discharged on school property.” I never said there were 74 cases analogous to Newtown. I gave the example of a janitor shooting and killing two other janitors… no student involvement.

Is it that you dislike Bloomberg? Frankly, so do I. I live in the NY metro area most of the year so I know of what I speak. But statistics are statistics, Mr. Adams. If there were 74 times a gun was discharged at a school since the Newtown massacre I think that is fodder for my weekly crime and justice column. Remember all the hand wringing after Newtown? THAT was going to be the event that changed America’s focus? Well, it wasn’t. We haven’t come up with one solid idea since Newtown except for those who continue the meaningless mantra of ….”More gun laws! More gun control! More control over ammunition clips….” As if any of that would stop a maniac with a gun from using it in a horrible way. I constantly harp on the fact that we need to keep the mentally disturbed from getting guns, we need more mental health care facilities/beds in this country not more gun control laws.

Regular readers of my columns know enough not to accuse me of being anti-gun or falling for specious statistics or being in line with Bloomgerg the “passionate and public advocate of gun control” I have written tens of thousands of words about how 99.99 percent of gun owners are perfectly responsible. Sorry you dislike my work. Its only when we all come together and calmly think of solutions that things will change. ~DD

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Mr. Adams responds again:

“Dear Ms. Dimond:

At your suggestion, I went back to re-read your column….. I’ll have to retract my earlier statement and you’ve regained my respect. And I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about it.

Perhaps I was blinded by your use of Bloomberg’s statistics – but your follow-on points were valid You did CLEARLY state the disclaimer.

However, there are many “innocent” ways firearms could be discharged on school property that have nothing to do with the problem. Perhaps it was a bit subtle for the average reader – who might interpret the entire article as a call for more gun control – despite your disclaimer on that issue. I think I understand your tie-in and your points. You used Bloomberg’s statistics to hook the anti’s, then diverted the discussion to a more rational approach.

My beef? Giving about 14 inches of your column to the misleading statistics (despite the disclaimer) gave way too much credibility to Bloomberg. The 5-6 inches devoted to solutions was simply not enough – but of course, that was your call.

You say “statistics are statistics”, but remember that “figures don’t lie, but liars do figure”. For me personally, I would like to have seen Bloomberg’s statistics discredited, as CNN did – or at least minimized. Bloomberg is only interested (best I can figure) in more and more gun control – except for him and his bodyguards. You, on the other hand, have taken a much more rational approach. We do need real solutions and I thank you for making that point.

Better mental health care is part of the solution. However, there is no crystal ball that will anticipate mental aberrations that result in violence. But a more careful analysis might show common elements which could be dealt with – such as psychotropic medications used by the deranged shooters. Remember that when I was young (maybe you, too), there were virtually NO school shootings. Something has changed and it shouldn’t be all that difficult to identify the factors.

Please don’t think that I am trivializing this issue. As a father and grandfather, I am concerned – especially since my daughter is an elementary school teacher in Colorado.

Thank you for listening to me.”

Sincerely,
Bob Adams

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Mr. Adams sent me another e-mail before I could respond:

“CNN) —

After Tuesday’s shooting at an Oregon high school, many media outlets, including CNN, reported that there have been 74 school shootings in the past 18 months. …….

……The statistic came from a group called Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella group started by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a passionate and public advocate of gun control…..”

“CNN determined that 15 of the incidents Everytown included were situations similar to the violence in Newtown or Oregon…”

15 ot of 74. Great fact-checking, Diane….

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/11/us/school-shootings-cnn-number/index.html

Bob Adams

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Noozhawk Reader AN50 writes:

“If we stop making these idiotic senseless acts a reason for the 24 hour a day sensational news cycle to make money on, then maybe our shallow self absorbed narcissistic culture will stop using them as an attention getter.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Noozhawk Reader George responds to AN50:

“Amen!!!!!!! Stop publicizing these acts of madmen, then the acts will go down when the perpetrator realizes they won’t be famous in the afterlife!!!”

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Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Noozhawk reader awakeallready responds to George”

“I totally agree. People who are this desperate for attention are just like moths to a flame, and the media lights the candle. I think that was basically the point of her previous column.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Noozhawk Reader mr_realsurf writes:

“We already have plenty of laws that are completely ignored. Those who would use a gun in the commission of a crime are not deterred by words on a piece of paper. ”
What on earth are you suggesting? That if a law is ignored (by some people) it proves that we don’t need the law???”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Noozhawk Reader Andreovich P responds to mr_realsurf:

“No if you had slowed down and actually took a minute to think about what the author is saying you would have realized that she was saying we don’t need more laws that criminals are just going to ignore anyway. She is suggesting that maybe people shouldn’t leave guns unsecured where children can get to them.

If you put your guns in a locked safe that your children don’t have access to its kind of hard for them to kill themselves and others.

Also I agree that the mainstream media is not doing this country any favors by sensationalizing these acts of violence. A simple there was a shooting at ___, ___ number of people died, the gunman is/is not dead yet.. et cetera would be more that sufficient and would probably decrease the number of shootings.

It could also be that children are largely left unsupervised and are allowed to play violent video games (GTA/COD (No Russian)) without the ability to separate video games from reality.”

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Patti Petow June 16, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Diane,
I’m more than frustrated, too. In fact, I’m damned angry that nothing has been done to address the issue of school shootings. It comes down to what you are saying here. PARENTS! SECURE YOUR WEAPONS if you must have them in your home. An unlocked box in the fridge? Really?

I keep saying this and I will say it again. Hold the parents responsible next time Johnny takes Mom’s semi-automatic to school and shoots his playmates. Is there not a lawmaker or judge out there willing to take the opportunity to lock mom and/or Dad up for being downright stupid? Well? Make an example out of someone and throw the book at them!

Patti Petow
Clearwater, FL

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Reader Litski writes:

” It seems to me that in this editorial you are lecturing to the gun owners who don’t have the common sense to secure their weapons from their young children to do just that. It seems to me that all this newspaper space would have been better used in quoting professional opinions on why these children at such a young age are so filled with rage, vengeance and alienation, and even what’s contributing to this. Now that would take common sense!”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Dear Litski:

I write about THAT topic all the time, Litski. Check my website for verification. The mental well-being/health of these young (mostly) male shooters has been of paramount concern and I publish columns about that – and the lack of treatment facilities for them — frequently.

This time I tried a different tack – because while you may dismiss my column as a “lecture” – I believe nothing positive will get done until we talk about every aspect of the problem. And talk about it a lot.

Thanks for writing. I will post your comment on my site. I welcome all viewpoints. “

Reply

Diane Dimond June 17, 2014 at 10:45 am

Facebook Friend Andrew Richter writes:

” It won’t change until we can have a rational conversation. I have no interest in taking away legit weapons from responsible owners. But as soon as I suggest any limitations whatsoever, it’s instantly a black-and-white debate. IMO, that’s what the NRA wants, because the NRA is essentially the lobbying arm of gun manufacturers, and as soon as we start actually discussing real issues, we start biting into their sales. As long as they can keep the issue in the current sphere, they know nothing will get done, and they can proceed with business as usual.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

Facebook Friend Daniel Karten writes;

“Arm teachers”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

Facebook Friend Don Hanzlik writes:

“Media, specifically TV and other video, need to stop creating a feeding frenzy ala publicly analyzing the culprit and turning him/her into a sensation. S/he came from this or that background… was a troubled person… etc. This only triggers evil thoughts in another person’s fragile mind – “oh, they got away with it and became famous, perhaps it’s my turn”. And then another copycat. If you want to write about it in a professional journal fine… my bet is these losers would never see it.”

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Diane Dimond June 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Twitter Pal SingAnnie writes:

“@DiDimond media not giving infamy to the killers and not giving them the glory is step 1″

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Diane Dimond June 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Readers Tom and Marie Coyle write:

“Hi Diane,

We enjoy all of your articles and agree with your opinions. This article is right on. If only the people in the NRA and the people in Washington could for once in their life come down from their pedestal and think like a human being this world might get straighten out.

Have you ever contacted FOX News, Megan Kelly, O’Reilly, or Hannity with your opinions, we feel they would gain a lot of knowledge from your insight.

Gun owners especially parents should be held responsible if their guns are not secured. There should be penalties for not doing so.

Keep up the good work, we are with you.”

Sincerely,

Tom & Marie Coyle

Reply

Diane Dimond June 25, 2014 at 10:07 am

Facebook Friend Constance Gordon writes:

“Gosh Diane, there are images of some stories we cover that never leave us, huh? Well written…but haunting.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 25, 2014 at 10:08 am

Facebook Friend Nancy Robel writes:

“You never forget the victims, D. That’s why I love you!”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 25, 2014 at 10:08 am

Facebook Friend Theo Onken writes:

“Thank you, Diane”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 25, 2014 at 10:09 am

Facebook Friend James Campbell writes:

“Small degree of poetic justice. The killer in jail for trying to steal his own memorabilia.”

Reply

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