90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Monday, December 17, 2012

Essay: School Shootings In America

We are all trying to make some kind of sense out of what happened in Newtown, Conn. But it’s futile. It will never make any sense, why a young man would kill 20 little children. Friday Dec. 14, 2012, will change the lives of those connected to the dead forever and will live forever in the memories of the rest of us.

What happened in Connecticut Friday followed a shooting in a mall in Oregon last Tuesday, when a young masked man killed two shoppers and himself. And just five months ago another young man opened fire during a screening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people.

Here’s a piece published by Mother Jones that looks in detail at mass shootings in America:

If you limit mass shootings to just school shootings, the Associated Press list counts 13 of them since 1997. That includes Columbine in 1999 when two high school students killed 12 people before taking their own lives. But there are so many others that we don’t remember, that don’t resonate in the way the words “Columbine” and now “Newtown” do. Here are some of them:

  • Oct. 2, 2006: Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, shot to death five girls at West Nickel Mines Amish School in Pennsylvania, then killed himself.
  • Mar. 21, 2005: Jeffrey Weise, 16, shot and killed five schoolmates, a teacher and an unarmed guard at a high school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota before taking his own life. Weise had earlier killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion.
  • Oct. 28, 2002: Robert Flores Jr., 41, who was flunking out of the University of Arizona nursing school, shot and killed three of his professors before killing himself.
  • Mar. 5, 2001: Charles “Andy” Williams, 15, killed two fellow students and wounded 13 others at Santana High School in Santee, Calif.
  • May 21, 1998: Two teenagers were killed and more than 20 people hurt when Kip Kinkel, 17, opened fire at a high school in Springfield, Ore., after killing his parents.
  • Mar. 24, 1998: Andrew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, killed four girls and a teacher at a Jonesboro, Ark., middle school. Ten others were wounded in the shooting.
  • Dec. 1, 1997: Three students were killed and five wounded at a high school in West Paducah, Ky. Michael Carneal, then 14, later pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and is serving life in prison.
  • Oct. 1, 1997: Luke Woodham, 16, of Pearl, Miss., fatally shot two students and wounded seven others after stabbing his mother to death. He was sentenced the following year to three life sentences.

I’m 57. When I was in grade school, high school or even college, I don’t remember ever thinking about someone coming into my school and killing me or my classmates. I don’t remember any teacher or administrator ever mentioning the subject. There was nothing like there is today, when school kids know what “lockdown” means.

I heard a high school student from Newtown on the radio talking about this. When the lockdown order came for all Newtown schools Friday he told WBUR’s Nancy Cohen everyone knew the drill. They closed the door and hid in the corner next to the door, so even if a gunman were to break into their classroom they could defend themselves.

Those little kids in the Sandy Hook Elementary School never even had that chance.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Jim Weber

    The common theme is not the firearms, it is the mentally deranged killers. Yes, let’s look at existing gun laws and see if there is room for change without infringing on the Bill of Rights. However, schools are already “weapons free zones.” The real issue seems to be  mentally unstable people without proper help. A person committed to causing harm will find a tool with which to inflict that harm. A culture that glorifies violence in movies and video games can’t be too surprised when those who spend countless hours absorbing that garbage, act out.

    • margaretmcphee

      cause bigger harm with the arsenal he had, knife harm different one gun caused one boy 11 bulllets wake up

  • Robin Y

    Alex I could lean across our cubicle wall and tell you this but you’ve left,
    so a note to say, I also heard that comment to Nancy and it gave me chills..
    that a child, really, would be thinking about defending himself.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    R  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566388160 Jonathan A Train

    Apparently forgot to mention January 2002 @ Appalachian Law School

  • margaretmcphee

    HI IM SCOTTISH .HERE WE CANT CARRY A KNIFE ITS AGAINST HE LAW.AMERICA HAS A BIGGER POPULATION BUT TO ME GIVE POWER TO EVERYDAY PEOPLE AND ALLOW GUN CONTROL TO ONE MEMBER OF THE FAMILY DOSENT JUSTIFY THAT ANOTHER MEMBER WITH NO JURY ADDICTION,CAN GET HOLD OF THE GUN AND CAUSE DESTRUCTION TO ME TAKE THE POWER AWAY AND IF MORE THAN HALVES THE PROBLEM GRUS

  • margaremcphee

    I THINK AMERICA SHOULD LOOK INWARD TO SEE THE DISRUPTION THAT HAS BENEATH ITS OWN IN THE PAST 12 YEARS TO 9[11 TO THE SHOOTINGS ,I ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY WERE ONE OF THE BIGGEST POWERS,BUT IF YOU CANT CONTROL YOUR OWM WHAT HOPE DO YOU HAVEIM DISAPPOINTED [FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY WE BRITISH NOW STAND ALONE[GOD SAVE OUR QUEEN]

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

July 24 6 Comments

Veterans Say Suicide Is Their Top Concern

That's according to a survey released today by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

July 24 5 Comments

Modern-Day Amelia Earhart Circumnavigates The Globe

The famous pilot's namesake has became the youngest woman to fly a single-engine aircraft around the world.

July 23 Comment

DJ Sessions: Latin Alternative From Los Angeles To Venezuela

KCRW's Raul Campos introduces us to some groups he came across while hosting the 15th annual Latin Alternative Music Conference.

July 23 6 Comments

ISIS Forces Christians To Flee Iraq City Of Mosul

The militant group's threat -- convert, leave or die -- has forced most Christians in Mosul to leave.