Another headline that has been assaulting my inbox since the Sunderland Springs shooting is that a Christian private school in Miami, Florida, has been offering bulletproof panels for student backpacks on the school’s store website. This is not uncommon as this idea has been floated around for years and usually surfaces after a high-profile shooting. In my opinion this is nothing more than fear profiteering. Profitfearing if you will.
While mass shootings have been a hot topic in our society, the odds of being a victim in a school shooting are rather low, especially in a big city like Miami. Not only that, but the backpacks provide minimal protection. The Miami Herald has reported the panels will withstand the force of .44 and .357 bullets, but not those from rifles, you know, the guns of choice by the majority of recent mass shooters. That’s not even mentioning that while this may be a good idea in theory, if it came to an actual active shooter, there’s no predicting how effective the backpack would actually be. That’s not even taking into account that even if you crouch behind the backpack, there’s still enough surface area exposed for a victim to be seriously injured in a shooting. Let’s also not forget that anything that’s bulletproof isn’t really bulletproof. The correct label is bullet resistant. Bulletproof vests also don’t work like you see on TV. If someone in a bulletproof vest is shot at point-blank range they don’t get up a few seconds later to subdue the evildoer. More often than not they’ve suffered broken ribs at the least which can lead to punctured lungs. Bulletproof vests are also not the best protection against knives either, obviously, or they would be called knife-proof vests. Lastly, at $125 apiece, they don’t sound like much protection to me.
Of course when someone puts the images of guns and school together you can’t help but think of school shootings, but is this really worth our outrage? Of course this wasn’t done intentionally by WalMart but you’d think the store personally went to school children and handed them guns the way some people are overreacting. For all we know it could have been done by some customer who thought they were funny, and to be honest, I did chuckle a little, but I can have a dark sense of humor at times.
What we should be outraged about is how some parents refuse to check on their kids activities, especially when there are guns in the home. We should be outraged about parents who refuse to get their children psychiatric help because the parents think they’ve somehow failed as a parent if they admit their child has a problem. We should be outraged about the generations of children we’ve raised to be emotional marshmallows whose first response is to turn to violence when things don’t go their way for whatever reason. But no, let’s rage at WalMart instead since they’re obviously the reason behind school shootings.
Whenever there is a study about guns and school shootings I always feel the need to preface my blog posts about them. While I support the right of responsible gun ownership, I do not belong to any pro-gun organization, nor do I own a firearm.
Once again the definition of ‘school shooting’ in this study is a lot broader than what most people think of as a school shooting. To me, a school shooting is when a gunman enters a school or campus in order to cause the most violence possible. This study defines a school shooting as “an incident when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.” I call that the ‘Everytown’ definition as it was first used to my knowledge by the anti-gun organization Everytown for Gun Safety. Everytown has made previously made claims such as there were 47 school shootings in 2015. The problem with this is if you call every shooting within a 5 mile radius of a school a school shooting, it lessens the impact of an actual school shooting.
As far as background checks go, I’m actually in favor of them. However, you have to remember that in many cases of school shootings the shooter could either have passed a background check, obtained the gun illegally, or stole the gun from their parents.
While some people think that you can just waltz into Wal-Mart and buy a fully automatic machine gun, that’s just not true. We are currently living in a time where it’s more difficult to purchase a gun than any other time in history. As I’ve posted about before school shootings are not about the access of guns, but rather the entitled children we’re raising who don’t have the emotional wherewithal to deal with failure.
The PSA is designed to look like a budding high school romance, meanwhile in the background there are hidden signs of potential school shooting. It’s a clever concept and had plenty of potential to be effective, but in my opinion it fails to do so.
Before I get into my critique about the PSA please allow me a moment to discuss Mr. Stephanopoulos’ interview with Ms. Hockley. Here is that interview in its entirety…
With all due respect to Ms. Hockley, at the 1:29 mark I slammed my laptop shut and just about pushed it off my desk. Can you guess why? She mentions bullying as a sign of a potential school shooter. This is not a sign of a potential school shooter. This is nothing more than a trope that’s been carted out on the media for the past 17 years ever since it was incorrectly reported that the Columbine cowards were bullied. I don’t think that this is Ms. Hockley’s fault however, as I think the media probably won’t let you talk about school shootings unless you talk about bullying. The bullying that most school shooters supposedly endured was largely made up in their own heads as some perceived slight against them, or they were antisocial cretins who drew the attention on themselves. Not to mention that even if you believe bullying causes school shootings, calling it a sign does nothing for the bullied. It only makes the school look at them as a potential threat rather than doing anything about the bullying itself. The only thing the bullying trope does is give people a rational appearing reason for a totally irrational act by an irrational person.
To Ms. Hockley’s credit, the rest of the interview was on point. She spoke about other signs such as extreme behavior and mental illness, and for parents not to ignore the signs. To me that is where the main point of failure occurs when it comes to most school shootings, parents with the ‘not my kid’ syndrome.
Now here is the ‘Know the Signs’ PSA in its entirety…
As a whole, the problem I have with the PSA is the fact that it’s too stereotypical. This is what TV and movie writers think of when they think of a school shooting. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to all school shootings. It doesn’t apply to school shootings like NIU or Virginia Tech, and it doesn’t even apply to Sandy Hook.
As far as the individual signs in the video go, there are two that I actually agree with. The first is the postings on social media. A lot of times these kids who are planning to commit some kind of act of school violence will almost always post some kind of hint on social media. The second, and most important one, is the watching of videos about other school shootings. Since Columbine, there has been a chain of copycat shooters that have endured to this day. Many of these shooters are what the internet has dubbed ‘columbiners’. For lack of a better term columbiners are fans of school shooters who consider the shooters victims rather than villains. Cho Seung-Hui was one, Stephen Kazmierczak was one, and Adam Lanza was one. It doesn’t matter that some of these columbiner kids weren’t even born before April 20, 1999, as they still identify with their cowardly heroes. Too many parents see this as a phase rather than a sign of mental illness, as mental illness still carries a stigma with it that some parents perceive as they didn’t do their job well enough if they admit their kid has mental issues. Yet when their kid goes on to slaughter a bunch of innocent people they act like they did nothing wrong. If Nancy Lanza was alive today she probably would have said the same thing.
In conclusion, while Sandy Hook Promise puts in a good effort, and has some very poignant things to say, I think they may need to refine their approach when it comes to PSAs. What I’d like to see is a PSA in the same vein as ‘Know the Signs’ except with the parent missing the signs instead of other students. Maybe a ‘Know the Signs 2’?
(Thanks to Lady Gray for the guidance and the editorial assist)
Indiana State Sen. Brandt Hershman recently introduced a bill to the Indiana legislature that would make a school shooting where victims are killed an aggravating factor that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Sen. Hershman says he was influenced by the shooting of Andrew Boldt by Cody Cousins at Purdue University in 2014. After pleading guilty and showing no remorse Cousins was only sentenced to 65 years. Sen. Hershman believes this would be a deterrent to would be school shooters.
“By including school shootings on the list of qualifying factors for the death, I hope it will deter future tragedies and allow for the most deplorable criminals to receive punishment to the fullest extent of the law,”
While I admire Sen. Hershman’s stance on the matter and as much as I am a firm believer in the death penalty, ultimately this will not deter school shooters if history is any indicator. First off this would not apply to suspect’s who are minors as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that even minors who have been charged as adults can not be executed. Secondly, most adult school shooters are of the mindset that they will not live to be apprehended. Cho Seung-Hui, Stephen Kazmierczak, and Charles Carl Roberts IV, all committed suicide before they could be taken in. Even Cody Cousins killed himself in prison. None of these men were rational individuals so trying to deal with them on a rational basis would not have deterred them from their respective atrocities.
I think a better solution to deterring school shootings is making mental healthcare in our society less stigmatized and more readily available but even that’s not a perfect solution.
In my time of working on this website in its various incarnations I’ve heard a lot of stupid ideas that are designed to protect kids during a school shooting. This one may take the cake, or in this case creamed corn.
A middle school in Alabama sent a letter home to parents asking to give their kids a canned food item to bring with them to school, every day. This isn’t some kind of food drive, the cans are supposed to be used as potential weapons against a possible active shooter in the school. This school of thought comes from school defense program that a lot of schools use although it;s only one aspect of the program. However this is a dumb idea.
First off even a couple dozen kids armed with that can of unidentifiable food that even the food drives won’t take is no defense against a crazed individual with a high-powered weapon capable of dispensing hot leaded death at multiple rounds a second. Secondly kid are kids. They’re more likely to use the cans on each other than they are a possible threat.
Instead of wasting time and energy on harebrained schemes like this more effort should be put towards preventing school shootings by not only making mental healthcare more widely available but also by lessening the stigma that too many parents believe that getting your kids metal treatment means they’re broken or you failed as a parent somehow. You only fail if you don’t do anything.
I almost hate to give this story attention because that’s all it’s designed to do but I know there are going to be some people who are going to be spouting misinformation about it so I thought I’d better enter the fray.
So there’s this fairly new video game out called ‘Hatred’. It’s about what you’d expect, an ultraviolent blood soaked shooter designed only to cause controversy which it’s already somewhat achieved.
Here’s the trailer for it if you can stomach it as it is very graphic.
So let’s get some facts out there. This is not a game that little Billy can just buy out of the case from Wal-Mart. As of right now it’s only going to possibly be available for PC through the Steam Store. So far there’s no rating yet but I can’t see this getting anything less than an AO rating.
It’s already being called a ‘school shooting’ game which as always is a misnomer. From the trailer alone I could see that there were several different locations and the main antagonist doesn’t seem to be some high school kid in mom’s basement. This game is not going to cause your kids to shoot up their school. Art, and I use that term incredibly loosely here, imitates life.
As an almost 40 year gamer myself I have played some pretty violent games in the past decade or so. The difference between those games and Hatred is that Hatred has no moral consequences for the killing spree and no real end goal other than violence for the sake of violence. My personal impression of the game is that it is the video game equivalent of petulant child that only seeks attention. This game will not win any Game of the Year awards, it’s only there to kick the hornets’ nest and in my opinion the only people who will seriously play it will be the fedora wearing neckbeards who argue about ethics in video game journalism.
So what should you do if your sensibilities are shaken to their very core by this game? Simple, ignore it. That’s what you do when something exists only to draw attention to itself, you ignore it and it will go away. And even if it doesn’t no one is forcing you to play the game and it doesn’t affect your life if someone else does.
In the wake of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting Vox.com looked into the bullied school shooter stereotype. What did they come up with? I think the title of the article kind of gives it away.
It makes me wonder if people will read it with an open mind or just dismiss it so they can continue to live with a comfortable lie.
Anyway, friend of the site, and Columbine author, Dave Cullen was interviewed for the article and once again brought his A-game to the discussion when it came to discussing the Columbine cowards.
“Everybody knows who commits these kind of murders. They’re outcasts, typically goth or other sorts of kids that dress funny and live on the fringes,” Cullen said. “That’s well known. It’s also wrong.”
“It’s complete nonsense,” Cullen said. Both shooters had a healthy circle of friends. Their social calendars, which were released to the public, were “packed.” They went bowling every Friday, and they typically occupied four lanes — enough for 16 people.
There’s also “no compelling evidence,” Cullen explained, that the shooters were bullied more than anyone else or that bullying drove them to the shootings. “We have their journals and videos,” Cullen said, adding that they “never mention bullying” directed at the shooters.
The article goes on to state that depression and mental illness are the main causes of school shootings. It was suggested that schools should hand out questionnaires to students to monitor for signs of depression. I’m afraid that while it may assist in getting some kids some help there are definite flaws by doing this. The first that a lot of kids with problems at home will lie so their parents won’t be notified by the school. Another problem is that any kid with depression will be labeled a potential school shooter and that doesn’t help anyone. Lastly, I don’t want to see depression become an excuse at trial for criminal behavior like bullying and Asperger’s have become in the years since Columbine.
Getting back to the bullying aspect I also wanted to add that this article is a great example of how school shootings have actually done a disservice to the victims of bullying. As I’ve said before now people are more concerned about finding the next shooter than actually doing anything about bullying.
This was a segment by correspondent Pierre Thomas for ABC News’ This Week With George Stephanopoulos. I thought Mr. Thomas did a great job at first discussing the copycat shootings that were inspired by Columbine. It said all the right things without glorifying the guilty. I greatly appreciated how it was pointed out that a lot of the shootings had to deal with mental illness. I wish they would have said something to make seeking mental health treatment less stigmatized but it’s a start. Then at about the 4:12 mark it goes completely off the rails.
Another thing that should have been brought up about how to stop some of these shootings is parenting. I would say just about all the shootings that were committed by juveniles could have been prevented if the parents just paid closer attention to their kids, stopped trying to be their friend instead of their parent, and having a modicum of common sense. If your kid has an unhealthy obsession with mass murderers it’s not ‘just a phase’. It means they are in need of psychiatric help. As an example of what not to do we’ll go back to Dillon Cossey. His parents were both arrested after his arrest because they were the ones who bought him a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9-millimeter semiautomatic rifle.
You get an E for effort ABC News. Maybe next time how about a little more fact checking and a little less dissemination of misinformation?