Another School Shooting
March 22, 2001 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Another School Shooting This time, it's in the same school district as the last one. Is this some new, sick trend?
posted by bgluckman (94 comments total)

 
It's way past time to shut the schools down. It astonishes me that the whole system wasn't shut down by simultaneous nationwide agreement the day after the first shooting. I guess families are so dependent on two incomes and desperate for a place to warehouse the kids during the day that any risk is acceptable. Shitty education, drugs, thuggish bullying, pregnancy, VD, death, anything.
posted by jfuller at 1:50 PM on March 22, 2001


There are shootings at the workplace too. Can we shut them down also so there will be someone home to look after the kids?
posted by rcade at 1:59 PM on March 22, 2001


jfuller: that's just about retarded. Kids in school are something like a dozen times safer than elsewhere...
posted by techgnollogic at 2:02 PM on March 22, 2001


> There are shootings at the workplace too. Can we shut
> them down also so there will be someone home to look
> after the kids?

Grownups have to do the best they can with what they've got. I think that's quite a bit different from packing children off to be made into Alpo.
posted by jfuller at 2:07 PM on March 22, 2001


> jfuller: that's just about retarded. Kids in school are
> something like a dozen times safer than elsewhere...

That isn't saying much, is it? At what point will you get shocked out of business-as-usual? When babies start blowing each other away? The whole country, school and workplace alike, should come to a screeching halt when it's reached the level of insanity it presently has reached. But then, most Romans didn't bother to drop their bridge club meetings and scram even when the empire was just about to collapse in flames, so I don't expect much enlightened self-interest now.
posted by jfuller at 2:20 PM on March 22, 2001


What, exactly, is your recommendation jfuller?

100% Homeschooling, and a mandate that children not congregate in groups larger than five without a written permit?

I think that preventing kids from having any interaction with other kids is an excellent way to create healthy, non-violent adults, don't you?
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 2:20 PM on March 22, 2001


When I was in high school, we always competed against other school districts, not our own.
posted by anildash at 2:25 PM on March 22, 2001


It's the guns, stupid!
posted by hal_55 at 2:28 PM on March 22, 2001


If the kids aren't in school, who's going to protect us?

Sorry, this thread seemed way to overgeneralized in the first place ;-)
posted by samsara at 2:40 PM on March 22, 2001


The children! Who will protect us from THE CHILDREN???
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 2:41 PM on March 22, 2001


Wow. That was refreshing. Instead of descending slowly into hysteria, someone cannonballed.
posted by Skot at 2:44 PM on March 22, 2001


Though I do suppose you said it better CrazyJoe...
posted by samsara at 2:46 PM on March 22, 2001


I didn't say I had a recommendation, but I do. It's the same recommendation I'd have if we were all in a bus headed full tilt for a washed-out bridge: STOP! THIS IS CRAZY! FOR GOD'S SAKE LOOK WHERE YOU'RE GOING AND STOP!

As for niggling little proposals like homeschooling or smaller schools or whatever, I suggest that getting the in-class murder rate back to zero takes first priority even if we don't happen to know exactly what we should do after we take care of job 1. First things first. Put out the fire, and then worry about rewiring the house.
posted by jfuller at 2:50 PM on March 22, 2001


>Is this some new, sick trend?

yes it is. it has been for some time now. if you're in high school, somehow shooting it up is now a reasonable action, if you've been harrassed.

it's like the story in the tipping point about suicide in micronesia: unheard of in the early 1960s. after one teenage boy killed himself following a fight with his father, in the 1980s the suicide rate for males 15-24 shot to 160 per 100,000 (7 times that of the US).

that one boy gave everyone else to commit suicide, somehow.

columbine (or one of the shootings that preceded it) put school shooting on the plate.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 2:51 PM on March 22, 2001


Put out the fire, and then worry about rewiring the house.

Someone wanna dump a bucket of water over jfuller's head? He's flaming.

hal_55 has it right. It makes a lot more sense to get rid of the guns than to close down all the schools. No guns, no shootings.

In the past, when civilizations fell, it was because someone conquered them. Do you honestly expect us to believe that sending our children to school is going to let the North Koreans take over?

Say it with me: "sheesh."
posted by anapestic at 2:56 PM on March 22, 2001


And you know what happens when you mix kids with adults...isn't that right Malachai?

I 'somewhat' agree with you jfuller, just I wish everything in our country was that easy...we couldn't take the same actions to solve our 'overall' factor of death from shootings (kid or no kid)
posted by samsara at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2001


Put out the fire, and then worry about rewiring the house.

Someone wanna dump a bucket of water over jfuller's head? He's flaming.


I don't see it that way, I think what he says makes sense, unfortunately. Obviously, forcing a bunch of kids with nothing in common apart from geography off into an artificial society which has made itself very hierarchical based on a few random characteristics discerned from the media & other outlets from the bottom of society is not a good plan.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:13 PM on March 22, 2001


I don't suppose anyone cares, but the gunmen appears to have been an ex-student who had already graduated.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2001


Fuck the children!(™ George Carlin) They're no more important than the rest of us.

If there's a tipping point here, I point the blame at the media. The reason there are so many mini-Columbines is because, thanks to the press, every kid in America knows all about Columbine inside and out, and it gets reinforced every time some infinitely more minor shooting gets talked into the ground for 48 solid hours afterwards on every channel and radio station.

"No guns, no shootings" is insipidly naive. It's impossible to fully pull off, even if it weren't for the fact that over 50% of the citizens of this nation would just as soon have the gun confiscation nut crowd shot if they ever tried to take away one of the most basic rights we have. And even if it were possible, the guns would be replaced instantly by something else.

Please note that today's incident ended quickly because, by dumb luck, there happened to be a sheriff's deputy at the school with a gun. Amazing how quickly these things can be snuffed out when you don't force people to be sitting ducks, eh?

And before anyone even asks, I don't own a gun. I never have, and have no plans to obtain one. I simply don't want emotions ruling this world instead of logic.
posted by aaron at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2001



jfuller wrote "As for niggling little proposals like homeschooling or smaller schools or whatever..."

I suggest you read this thread. Oh, and stop using words like niggling unless you know what they mean to everyone who may read them.

First, yes, it is the guns stupid. Second, you have to stop thinking that this couldn't happen to 'people like us'. Third, it seems that a general lack of respect for children has driven us to an atmosphere where some kids will kill to be noticed. I think it would be interesting to see how many schools with shootings were in areas with a cerfew.

It seems to me that society has been treating the symptoms of the problem. Kids get out of hand, make them wear uniforms. Kids still get out of hand, give them a cerfew. In essence, what we are saying is that when we notice you, we will only make you easier to ignore. So, kids in thier way, look for bigger ways to get attention. They shoot people.

If we could go back ten or fifteen years and actually listen to the kids who were trying to get our attention instead of silensing them, well... We would not have the problems we are faced with now.
posted by DragonBoy at 3:17 PM on March 22, 2001


You begin wqith the guns. When (many years ago) I was in school, kids had at best switch blades. Then those were outlawed. Kids can still kill but with a gun, no end to what they can do. I recall that kids in NY had home-made but very ineffective zip guns. They could possibly kill if you got a few incyhes before a "victim," but this was no major threat. Now the ante is upped. Any kid can get hold of a deadly weapon.
Stop the guns. Then face the issue of why the rage, what provlkes? how to handle it? but so long as a kid can get a gun and can bring it to school, underlying causes will end up with large scale harm.
Ideally, when a driver is drunk, you don't allow him to drive cause he can do harm and get way out of conbtrol (Yes; I know. We are not tough ebnough on this) And that is what I suggest: we are soft on guns because they are so readily available.
As for home wschooling: how many parents can do this? How many can stay home to do this? how many one-family homes? If schools "worked'; before, then why do we have to shut down the system?
posted by Postroad at 3:27 PM on March 22, 2001


So your logic is: the solution to the problem is... more guns? When we all hold each each off at gunpoint, we'll all be safe? What on earth have you been smoking?
There certainly is no quick fix, but the problem isn't insoluble. It's taken us many decades to get to this point where guns are as common as--what? bicyles?--thanks to the benevolent leadership of those gentle folks at the NRA--and it will obviously take many more decades--and there will be more child deaths--as we slowly rid ourselves of them. But does the fact that success won't be instantaneous, mean that it's not worth doing?

I'm tired of the gun-nuts' posturing about "basic rights." Your "basic right" is being bought with the corpses of other people's children.
posted by hal_55 at 3:28 PM on March 22, 2001


Having armed guards at schools makes school shootings end quicker. But kids still get shot.

Removing guns from school is more insipid than removing media reporting on shootings at schools. Not to mention much, much easier.

There are (at least) 2 solutions to reducing (not removing) problem, one cheap, the other expensive:

Cheap:
Prevent kids from being able to carry out this kind of violence (metal detectors, arrest kids who threaten, etc)

Expensive:
Improve the school environment in ways that reduce the desire to shoot classmates and staff.

Guess which one we're gonna do?
posted by daver at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2001


Since the early 90s school shootings and school violence have been steadily declining.

Instead of buying into the hysteria, why not try educating yourselves. This site has the numbers, an analysis, and conclusions based on data rather than media hype.

School shootings and school violence having been going down for the last ten years.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2001


Another school shooting.

*sigh*

Very sad. Very very sad... I must say that some of what JFuller is saying rings true -- or at least his tone does. There have been a lot of very bright people who have tried to address the gross shortcomings of our school system... and I'd encourage everyone here to read what Neil Postman, Wendell Berry, and Aaron Swartz have to say about schooling. The last recommendation comes after I found a link to Aaron's site in a MetaFilter thread.
posted by silusGROK at 3:36 PM on March 22, 2001


DragonBoy: Niggling is not an improper word, look it up.

Hal_55: You type worse than me, I love you to pieces.
posted by thirteen at 3:38 PM on March 22, 2001


y6: Maybe if you spread it out over time, the shootings have been going down, but these types of incidents happen in bursts that undoubtly follow a trend. Also, I might be mistaken, but are those stats from '99?

The truth is: no, we won't see guns go away. And yes, guns alone are the problem. You won't see headlines involving kids trying to kill each other with sticks and stones (although, you would see them posted here on MeFi). What we have here, is a social disorder that stems out into the farthest reaches of what our society is today. We need to fix much much more than our schools to prevent this kind of retaliation. But who's going to do that? Are we really that doomed? I'm not sure about that...I hope that we can do the best that we can to clean ourselves up, and that would simply start with a bit of responsibility (they should be teaching that in school)
posted by samsara at 3:43 PM on March 22, 2001


I'm tired of the gun-nuts' posturing about "basic rights."

Luckily, none of the legitimate gun owners in this country need to give a damn about your kneejerk reactionary desires. Not only is the Constitution on their side, not only are numbers already on their side, but every time the people like you start your shrieking, gun sales go UP. Membership in gun-rights organizations go UP. So hey, keep on complaining! No skin off our butts.

Oh, and stop using words like niggling unless you know what they mean to everyone who may read them.

For the other 99.99999% of us without telepathic powers, would you mind explaining your statement? For bonus points, how about telling us why we shouldn't laugh at those for whom such words "mean things" that literally do not exist?
posted by aaron at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2001



I'm tired of the gun-nuts' posturing about "basic rights."

Tell you what. Amend the Constitution so it no longer says gun ownership is a basic right, and I'm sure everyone will stop "posturing" as you put it. I hear it's a pretty difficult process, though, so you'd better get started right away. Good luck!
posted by kindall at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2001


DragonBoy, I have two comments: first, thanks for using "JFuller wrote" before the italicized text... makes for much easier reading when I don't have to scroll around just to figure out who you're talking at/about; second what does "niggling" mean to you? I know what it means to me. And it's not the least bit offensive... the worst I can say is that I can't tell whether JFuller is using it as an adjective (correct) or as a verb (incorrect).
posted by silusGROK at 3:47 PM on March 22, 2001


To return to the original question - yes, this *is* a new, sick trend.

The more media hand-wringing there is over each successive poor, misunderstood, bullied whelp who finally can't take it anymore, steals a gun, and blows classmates away, the more other bent kids will see it as an avenue to attention.

Kids are being fed a new and tempting macabre fantasy to replace traditional bids for attention such as wrist-slitting and overdosing.
posted by Tubes at 3:47 PM on March 22, 2001


My "kneejerk reactionary desire" is to make it a lot less easy for any yahoo who cares to acquire the power of life and death over those around him, to slaughter my kids or anyone else. Does that conflict with the social environment that the Founding Fathers had in mind for us? I don't think so...

The Constitution does not say "gun ownership is a basic right." It talks about being a member of a "well-regulated militia." Gun-owners in America don't want and will hardly accept any regulation at all. Why are you debasing the Constitution with your distortions?
posted by hal_55 at 3:56 PM on March 22, 2001


Now the ante is upped. Any kid can get hold of a deadly weapon.

Yeah! Let’s go back to the days when kids couldn’t get deadly weapons! Uh, when was that, exactly?
posted by gleemax at 4:03 PM on March 22, 2001


The Constitution does not say "gun ownership is a basic right." It talks about being a member of a "well-regulated militia." Gun-owners in America don't want and will hardly accept any regulation at all. Why are you debasing the Constitution with your distortions?

Um. Yeah.

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
posted by gleemax at 4:06 PM on March 22, 2001


Hey, I didn't notice bold fontsettings on the original!

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Tastes great! Less filling! Although I would never actually own a gun myself, I think they're for people that haven't grown up yet. (WOW! I actually got the REAL THING! I have to show all my friends at the next gun convention!!) ...ouch, I'm not usually that deragatory, someone slap me for clicking post ;-)
posted by samsara at 4:21 PM on March 22, 2001


*slap*
posted by silusGROK at 4:27 PM on March 22, 2001


Thanks! What I meant to say was...instead of taking firearms away, why don't we just amend the brady bill to limit firearms even more to those that have children? And make it reasonable too...not over the edge.
posted by samsara at 4:30 PM on March 22, 2001


Anyone for the scene in Airplane where everyone queues to get a whack at calming a hysterical passenger? : )

Of course... (and this is for all those people searching the Google archives for nasty things I've said in the past as I run for president in 2020) ...I would never slap anyone.
posted by silusGROK at 4:31 PM on March 22, 2001


Lets bold the whole damn thing,
? well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
and follow up with a Jefferson quote
"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand
real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience;
that would take fire from men because it burns, and water
because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils
except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of
arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who
are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it
be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the
most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code,
will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can
be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly
obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty --so dear to men,
so dear to the enlightened legislator-- and subject innocent
persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to
suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and
better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage
than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked
with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be
designated as laws not preventive but fearful of crimes,
produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts,
and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences
and advantages of a universal decree."

posted by thirteen at 4:33 PM on March 22, 2001


And yes, guns alone are the problem

I'm vehemently anti-gun, and think this is a silly statement. For a kid to get to the point where he figures its okay to blow someone away, there's your problem. The gun just makes it easier, but it ain't the root of the problem.

A gun is a tool, it didn't talk to the kid and tell him to shoot.
posted by owillis at 4:34 PM on March 22, 2001


Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm still puzzled about this statement by jfuller:

    "It's way past time to shut the schools down. "


Now, granted, closing all of the schools will certainly bring the in-class murder rate to zero pretty quickly - but with the minor little side effect of creating a vast population of adolescents with plenty of time, no education, and even less supervision than they had when they were being "warehoused" in school. Forgive me if I don't see that as a "niggling" little detail. The question stands jfuller - if you are going to shut down the schools as the obvious and only solution, where are the children being educated? Assuming not all parents can continue to FEED AND CLOTHE their children without being a two income family, where is the supervision? Not to be inflammatory, but how is this not a moronic suggestion? Perhaps we could install bars and deadbolts (and good smoke detectors!) on their bedrooms, give them self-study workbooks and a stern talking to about individual responsibility... or maybe we could consider the possibility that CLOSING THE SCHOOLS is not, by itself, an answer.

Or am I simply misreading you?
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 4:34 PM on March 22, 2001


Damn, in my hurry to google up a Jefferson quote, (and ugly up the page, sorry), I grabbed a Cesare Beccaria quote that Jefferson admired. Apologies all around.
posted by thirteen at 4:37 PM on March 22, 2001


(Off Topic)

Samsara... a reasonable short term approach (in addition to closing the current loop hole(s) in the back ground check legislation) would be a mandate for gunlocks on all new guns, with legal liability attached to the owner if the gun they bought was not properly locked and then used in a crime; not to mention legal liability attached to anyone who sells a gun without a lock (after the law is passed), should that gun *ever* be used in a crime. I'd also like to see limited liability attached to owners of pre-law lockless guns who don't proper store the guns.


This is only a partial answer, of course.
posted by silusGROK at 4:38 PM on March 22, 2001


I was thinking about this while replacing a busted ballcock since I'm too niggardly in my spending to give it to plumbers.

I think that we can capitalize on the trendiness of school shooting by everyone adopting it. We should start gun clubs in every school and discuss whether the sniping is better in the cafeteria or the gym.

Maybe adopt gun system where guns are only give to anti-social children. A proactive movement against the harrassment that sparks the violence.

Perhaps we should just make guns manditory and push the evolutionary track towards the first bulletproof baby.
posted by john at 4:38 PM on March 22, 2001


Reminds me of the "niggardly" fiasco
posted by owillis at 4:40 PM on March 22, 2001


The Constitution does not say "gun ownership is a basic right." It talks about being a member of a "well-regulated militia."

This is obviously subject to debate. "A well-regulated militia" is in fact mentioned, but the way the sentence is phrased does not necessarily make the militia or its regulation a condition for the right to exist. The Bill of Rights is after all intended to enumerate, acknowledge, and protect rights the Framers considered to already exist. It is generally written so as to limit the government's power to abridge these rights, not so as to limit the individuals' ability to employ them. I'm not at all sure you can conclude, given the general tenor of the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, that the inclusion of "a well-regulated militia" in the Second Amendment was to limit the right of gun ownership to members of such a militia.

Given the ambiguity, another perfectly valid paraphrase of the Second Amendment might read: "Because states must have the right to call up and command a militia in order to protect the country's freedom, citizens must have a right to own firearms." After all, if you want to call up a militia, you're going to have a tough time doing it if hardly anyone owns a gun. Really, you could read the Second as protecting the right of a state to call up a militia as much as it protects individual gun ownership. Since the latter is necessary for the former, the latter must also be protected.

Now, you could argue persuasively that times have changed and we no longer have state militias and most of us are no longer worried about being oppressed by our own government, which was the original reason states had militias. (Aside from people who have had their property seized on drug raids without due process, of course, but if they'd had guns and tried to use them they'd probably be dead right now, so that's not really a convincing argument anyway.) But that doesn't change what the Second Amendment says. It still, as far as my readings have been able to determine, protects the right of individuals to own guns. It protects this right even if people think widespread gun ownership is bad for society and pass laws contrary to it, because it is part of the supreme law of the land and can be changed only by further amendment.

So, while you can argue that the Second Amendment should be changed and clarified, you cannot pretend that it's impossible to interpret any other way than the way you interpret it. The first step in any kind of meaningful gun control program must be repeal or change of the Second Amendment. If you are for gun control, but want to take a shortcut past the arduous amendment process, then you are, if you'll excuse the expression, "posturing."

Gun-owners in America don't want and will hardly accept any regulation at all.

Do you have any idea at all how many laws there are about gun ownership already? Dozens in most localities, if not hundreds. Some (depending on locality) might include: You can't own a gun if you have been convicted of a felony. You can't own a gun if you have a history of mental illness. You must submit to a background check before being allowed to buy a gun. When transporting a gun in a vehicle, the gun and the ammunition must be in different parts of the car. You may not conceal a gun if it is carried in public. You may not carry a gun onto a commercial airliner. You may not carry a gun out of the country. You may not buy more than one gun a month. You may not own a fully-automatic weapon (some other types of guns are banned in various localities, I'm sure).

That's off the top of my head. All the gun owners I know comply with applicable regulations and generally recognize their merit, though of course individual laws may be debated. In your opinion, how many more laws are needed in order for gun owners to qualify as "well-regulated"?

(What did the phrase "well-regulated" mean in 1789 anyway? Did it mean the same thing then that it means today? Many words are used differently now than they were then. I'm curious if anyone happens to know anything about this.)

Why are you debasing the Constitution with your distortions?

It's obvious to me that I've done a lot more study of the Constitution and of U.S. history than you have, so if anyone is debasing and distorting anything, it's probably you. Not intentionally, I hasten to add.
posted by kindall at 4:42 PM on March 22, 2001


Since when is rage a new phenomenon? What is new is that the number of guns floating around in America is now so large that *anyone*--no matter how young or how deranged--can get hold of them. 200 million, says the NRA (and thanks to, the NRA). Guns are about twice as common as bicycles (says bicycleretailer.com)!! It's time to start choking the growth, and gathering them back in...
posted by hal_55 at 4:47 PM on March 22, 2001


thirteen: Yes, he was an important person in history. However, knowing the positions he's taken on many a issue, I believe that he would have changed his mind at the sight of children killing children in this free country with "beared Arms" that have amazing accuracy and 20 bullet clips.

I don't understand how the 2nd amendment got brought into this anyway, someone proposed to take away guns right? I hope we're not arguing that this kid had a right to have the gun (until he did the deed that is).

vis1on, I think you've got it....there's no clear one cut answer, but many. The trick is, making sure that they are effective as well as positive. I would suggest parents, gun finatics (the finatics, not the owners), and school administrators set themselves up with ritalin dosages while this is happening....I'm being sarcastic of course.
posted by samsara at 4:49 PM on March 22, 2001


Aeeiiii! You Americanos are craazy!
posted by lagado at 4:56 PM on March 22, 2001


That's it! We need to teach children that they come from Kevlar and they'll act like bulletproof vests!
posted by john at 4:59 PM on March 22, 2001


Guns are about twice as common as bicycles (says bicycleretailer.com)!! It's time to start choking the growth, and gathering them back in...

I agree that the widespread availability of guns is at least symptomatic of a serious problem in our society. While I think the problem is deeper than you do (people don't feel safe, thus buy guns), sometimes attacking the visible problem can work (c.f. Gladwell's The Tipping Point.) Can you suggest a way to "choke the growth" that:

1) Won't result in the rise of organized crime cartels to illicitly import, manufacture, and distribute guns, as happened during Prohibition and in the War on Drugs?

2) Won't result in gross and widespread violations of the Fourth and Eighth Amendments (e.g. unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment), as has happened in our War on Drugs?

3) Will actually take away more guns from people who commit violent crime than from their victims, thereby actually increasing their safety more than marginally?

4) Doesn't actually contradict the Second Amendment as it is interpreted by a large and politically-active group of Americans, and thus has some chance of being implemented?

If so, let's hear it.
posted by kindall at 5:02 PM on March 22, 2001


Still way off topic, of course... but then, you knew that when you continued to read the second, third and now the fourth dozen comments in this thread... so no complaining :)

I want to clear up any misconception. I'm very much pro-Second Amendment -- my nasty opinion of the NRA aside -- and see that a reasonable set of laws to address the problems we're experiencing are the only way that we'll be able to keep our guns. The NRA is wrong. Having good laws on the books, and wise enforcement of those laws, is the only thing that will abate the desire of so many people in this country to get rid of guns wholesale.

Easy(ish) access to guns definitely contributed to this school shooting and others. No question... but the comment I like so much in this thread was that "kids are being fed a new and tempting macabre fantasy to replace traditional bids for attention such as wrist-slitting and overdosing". It seems that the children who might have otherwise chosen to kill themselves as a way to lash out at those around them are now choosing to kill others.
posted by silusGROK at 5:05 PM on March 22, 2001


It seems that the children who might have otherwise chosen to kill themselves as a way to lash out at those around them are now choosing to kill others.

I agree wholeheartedly with this, except I see it as being about escaping an intolerable situation as much as getting revenge. As I've said elsewhere of course.
posted by kindall at 5:08 PM on March 22, 2001


samsara:
Hey, I didn't notice bold fontsettings on the original!

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”


I was emphasizing the phrase. hal_55 either doesn't understand what the amendment is saying or he doesn't know the second half of the amendment. Either way, pointing out that gun ownership is a constitutional right couldn't hurt. And, believe it or not, it really is. The amendment guarantees a well regulated militia & the right of the people to keep and bear arms. I'm not making some sort of great leap of logic here; the citizens need arms to form a militia.
posted by gleemax at 5:10 PM on March 22, 2001


Kindall... in your opinion how does my suggestion square with your 4 points?
posted by silusGROK at 5:10 PM on March 22, 2001


gleemax: please disregard what I said, it was before I got slapped ;-)
posted by samsara at 5:11 PM on March 22, 2001


How dare we act so surprised. Why are we now offended, looking for solutions, reacting, NOTICING? Shootings happen in school now and have for decades. The ONLY difference now is that they're happening in our back yard, not in the urban schools the middle class have run away from.

We've had the last 500 years (at least) to realize that running from problems doesn't solve them. The problems have ALWAYS followed us. The only real solution is to fix them and stop running.

So when our happy little suburb high school starts to return to reality and face the problems that others have dealt with for years, we have a real fear. We have no place to run!

Of course, that's being optimistic. We'll probably just start building happy communities in the mountains, because the burbs have gone bad.
posted by toastcowboy at 5:11 PM on March 22, 2001


I hope that if we run anywhere, it's back into the cities... where people who aren't farmers (or aren't part of a farming community) belong.

(Of course, this is a greatly condensed version of a much more complex thought... so take it with a spoonful of honey.)
posted by silusGROK at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2001


"Is this some new, sick trend?"

Yes. Yes it is.

Next.
posted by Outlawyr at 5:21 PM on March 22, 2001


No, saying that we shut down our schools is like saying we should shut down California altogether, no..wait they're doing that already with an energy crisis.

Back to on track though, if we actually paid attention to these kids...would that be a good step? As it was mentioned before, this is a new and potent way to get noticed...before, kids were subscribing to anarchist weekly and taking their own lives. The issue is there, right in front of us...but you (and I) would rather sit in front of our computers with our keyboards and fraps than actually lift a finger in getting involved. So we can theorize all we want, but how many of us are actually listening....and how many of us are doing something. If you are, what is it?
posted by samsara at 5:24 PM on March 22, 2001


vis10n: Your suggestion has merit and does pretty well on three of my points (I think at least some NRA spokesmen have come out in favor of at least trigger locks), but I don't think it'll do much for my point #3 about disarming the people who commit the bulk of violent crimes, i.e. people who already have guns and a lack of respect for human life and demonstrate both on a regular basis. Even if every gun to be sold starting now had to have a trigger lock, there are still (according to hal at least) 200,000,000 guns that don't. Furthermore, locks can be broken (although possibly the lock could be designed so as to render the gun useless if you tried). Still, you want these locks to be affordable so everyone will use them, so really the best you can hope for is to use the locks to keep guns out of the hands of kids and to make sure the guy who steals your gun doesn't shoot you with it on the way out of the house. The main problem is that if a criminal wants to terrorize you with a gun, he's already got two hundred million of them to choose from. Many of these are already unregistered and will remain so.

I'm all for making people responsible for results of their actions in general, though. I once read an Asimov story in which parents were held criminally accountable for what their children did -- if the kid committed a crime, the parents would serve the same sentence as the kid. That didn't strike me as an entirely bad idea, although it was intentionally written to be as extreme and rigid as possible -- it'd never fly in this country as Asimov described it.
posted by kindall at 5:53 PM on March 22, 2001


Kindall... I'd love to take this offline: I still have some questions... and some points to make, but it would wind up being a dialogue and not a discussion.

Drop me a line at my e-mail address if that strikes your fancy.

- v
posted by silusGROK at 6:05 PM on March 22, 2001


Just for reference, in the 18th century a "militia" was what was formed in an emergency by recruiting civilians to augment the regular armed forces. After brief training (sometimes none at all) they would be used as necessary as auxiliaries for the duration of a battle or a war, then released again from military service.

Firearms in that era were difficult to use, and no-one was going to become competent using them in the brief period of training, which was mostly oriented towards teaching them formation-fighting (which was how it was done in those days). Doing things like 'forming square" was complicated enough, and there wasn't also time to teach them to load and shoot a flint-lock musket.

The reason this was possible was that the civilian men already knew how to shoot because they as civilians already owned weapons and used them regularly. Even more to the point, in the early days of the Revolutionary War, when militias were recruited e.g. at the Battle of Bunker Hill, the men used their own weapons. In that particular case there was no training at all; the men showed up, dug trenches, and beat back a couple of attacks by British regulars before being forced to withdraw. Probably the single best performance by rebel militia in the Revolutionary War was at the Battle of the Cowpens, a most remarkable battle anyway.

So what "militia" meant to the authors of the Second Amendment was "civilians competent to use firearms, collected together in an emergency". They were not talking about the regular army.

This was the difference between victory and defeat in the Revolution and those who wrote the Second Amendment recognized the value this had to the Nation. Since it looked to them like the difference between life and death of the Union itself, that benefit (survival of the United States) was deemed more important than any potential drawback. Nor am I sure they're wrong, even to this day.

What they mean by "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" is that in an emergency it was essential that the majority of adult civilian man be able to fight to defend the nation, because it had just happened and it was necessary.

As farfetched as it may seem, the foundation of our (American) liberty today is still the fact that the civilians are armed and can if need be fight to preserve the Union -- even against its own armed forces. That's the most important reason why the US is the country in the world least likely to ever have a military coup, something which has happened countless times elsewhere. (It's even happened in the UK, lead by Oliver Cromwell.) If some politician or general tried that here, the result would be a blood-bath, and everyone knows it. While I don't think that any US military man has ever entertained fantasies of this in the last hundred years, any that did would instantly realize that it was impossible.

Random shootings and an unnaturally high murder rate are the price we pay for this preservation of our liberty. I am loath to lose it. (I might mention that I have never owned a gun myself and I'm extremely afraid of them.)

In the mean time, the San Diego Union Tribune has a much more comprehensive report on the shooting. The attacker was not a student, and it turns out that a police officer and also a sheriff's deputy were on campus at the time. Both of them rushed out and had a shootout with the attacker, who was hit at least twice (once in the face, shattering his jaw) before he was taken into custody. He's in the hospital now and will soon undergo reconstructive surgery. I'm extremely happy to report that both officers were unhurt, and I commend them both for doing their duty.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:10 PM on March 22, 2001


For those of you that own guns and believe you have a right, and use guns for sportsmanship etc, I have no quarrel. I do not own a gun. I never want to own a gun. I do not like guns. But I have shot many weapons while in the military, so I am not whatever label might spring to mind.
I own a car. I had to pass a test to get a license to drive that car. I have to renew my license. I have to register my car. I may get penalized if I am caught misusing my car.
If I sell my car, my state wants to know to whom and when I sold my car. When someone buys my car, the state wants him to register it under the new owner's name.
Is that too much of an infringement upon some right?
posted by Postroad at 6:38 PM on March 22, 2001


Just to back up what Steven said above, here's a little outside reading: The Militia Act of 1792 (check out the list of equipment you were supposed to have). This Act gives a pretty good description of what being in the militia meant in the 18th century. If that's not enough, get yourself up to speed on all of the militia history. Off topic: Maybe a sensible debate for the 21st century is whether or not the militia can still fulfill it's original purpose. Maybe the answer to that debate is so obvious that only a Canadian could miss it. Maybe I am that Canadian. Sure seems like an interesting discussion, anyway.

For what it's worth, The Constitution Society has a lot of good reading.
posted by iceberg273 at 7:00 PM on March 22, 2001


Postroad:

I don't think so. I own guns, and recognize the responsibility that comes with that. I was pretty suprised how easy the BFSC (Basic Firearms Safety Certificate) was to get (CA requires one before you purchase a gun). Here in this state, all the paperwork involved with cars also applies to guns, plus some extra.

I keep my guns locked up, and don't let children in my bedroom when they come to visit. If I have children of my own, I will purchase one of those coffin-sized safes to keep my guns in (and never give my kids the combo/key). I'll also teach them how to use guns, and show them what they can do ("See this melon? It's skin is thicker than yours, right? See what a bullet can do to the melon? It's not like in the movies - these aren't toys to be waved around.")

But I can understand those who feel that trigger locks and the like are not something to be legislated. After all, "If I'd had a trigger lock, I'd be dead," he said. "If my pistol had been in a gun safe, I'd be dead. If the bullets were stored separate, I'd be dead. They were going to kill me." (the quote's at the very end)

Vis10n and kindall, if you want to take it offline, take it here. I for one wouldn't mind hearing what you guys are saying.
posted by OneBallJay at 7:14 PM on March 22, 2001


Postroad, your question is moot within the context of this discussion, because even if all the strictures you propose were in place, it wouldn't have prevented today's shooting.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:42 PM on March 22, 2001


Iceberg, IMHO there is no doubt whatever that the "militia" still serves some of the purposes intended for it by the authors of the Second Amendment. While the threat of invasion of the US is now remote, there still exists the possibility of a coup. Those men knew all about Cromwell and were well aware of the dangers of a military coup, and the militia was the ultimate defense against that. And it still is. The US Army is incomparably equipped, but not even it can defeat the 80 million armed men of the US Militia.

And the danger of a coup is not as remote as you might think. I remember the crisis at the end of the Nixon presidency, and I remember being seriously concerned about the possibility that he might attempt a coup. There was no chance of one succeeding, but it could have gotten ugly. I was very relieved when he left office voluntarily. It is my firm opinion that if he thought he could have been successful, that he definitely would have tried it. But not even someone as deluded as Nixon was (he was paranoid) would think a coup could actually succeed here.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:52 PM on March 22, 2001


accountingboy, I've e-mailed vis10n and if he (or she -- oops, just made a gender assumption!) is willing to carry on in public, so am I... otherwise we'll continue in e-mail and you can all read it in my posthumously-published memoirs.
posted by kindall at 9:03 PM on March 22, 2001


Steven, that's also around the same time the war on drugs began, right?....I remember reading something about Nixon called "smoke and mirrors" that addressed where his administration was headed in addressing crime in the cities. I also remember reading somewhere that about %80 of deaths caused by guns intended for self defense, are accidental or murderous. This recent graduate used a pump-style shotgun, which I would speculate, is more for collection or hunting purposes than for self defense. Those are atleast two other avenues in which guns are utilized that I know of.

Protection is a good thing, I wouldn't dispute that. Just for the issue's sake, there is this 8yr old kid that I have met, who everyone knows is going to be trouble. An 8yr old kid that knows about guns and what each different model is called, how far they can shoot, what kind of damage they do to their target. He is also, in my opinion, seriously messed up beyond therapy....and shows no real emotion. If you're at a table laughing, he will first observe the faces of those laughing, and then join in. It's hard to know what to do him, as even his mother seems to have completey given up. I may not agree with their views, but others have remarked that he'll eventually take her life (ie. he has already tried). It's one of those things that seems like it's a matter of time, but you can't predict it. Also, with an environment that nurtures his interest in guns, I personally do not want to be around any of them. And then it struck me, this is as frustrating as the issue can get.

I know the 2nd amendment isn't perfect...but a lot of foresight went into that portion of the constitution. The bill of rights are a great treasure and at the same time, a great burden. If no one questions whether we keep to it, then it succeeds as being for the people. It very well might fail, if it is realized that it no longer serves popular interest. But in that case, the burden would have to be so great that any arguement to keep it would just be for the sake of arguement. I hope for now, we can find ways around the 2nd amendment for the sole purpose of limiting death by firearms without hindering those who have legitimate needs for them. It's just going to be much tougher and ineffective when it comes to the issue of the 2nd amendment.
posted by samsara at 9:27 PM on March 22, 2001


"Is this a new trend?"
Yeah!! All the unpopular kids are doing it!
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:55 PM on March 22, 2001


> "No guns, no shootings" is insipidly naive. It's impossible
> to fully pull off,

You don't need to eliminate all of the privately held guns to eliminate most of the killings.

You haven't eliminated all of the bombers or all of the bombs from the US, but the number of bombings you have is just a tiny fraction of what you'd have if it were possible for almost anyone to get a bomb license and to buy bombs at the local Walmart. (Why don't gun enthusiasts also press for the right to build bombs? The bombs would be for self-defense, of course, or maybe they would be arms for the constitutionally guaranteed people's militia. And maybe the militia could use a few rocket launchers. Rockets sure would do a job on those pesky burglars, too.)

> Please note that today's incident ended quickly because,
> by dumb luck, there happened to be a sheriff's deputy at
> the school with a gun.

I don't think anyone is saying we should take guns from the police. And it wasn't just 'dumb luck' that there was a police officer at the school; the police are becoming a common sight in American schools.
posted by pracowity at 12:16 AM on March 23, 2001


pracowity said:

Why don't gun enthusiasts press for the right to build [and own] bombs?


Finally! If this US Militia is to have any chance of stemming a coup or invasion in this day and age, they need weapons. Good weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. I want to be able to buy Claymore mines (yes, I'll register each and every one). I want my own M-1A2 Abrams tank (I already have a drivers license). I would like to buy and fly an Apache helicopter (I've already been trained to jump out of one). Why can't I?


I'm sure the framers would not have objected to the militia upgrading as the technology became available since they obviously recognized the benefits of a well-armed militia in the Revolutionary War. I'm also quite sure they wanted the most effective militia available. This being the framers' intent, my right to bear the arms of my choice is not to be infringed upon!


Where am I going with this? Be damned if I know, but it sure seemed like a great angle. I think that if a well regulated militia is the justification for the continued right to bear arms, then we need to consider what constitutes a well regulated militia (and an effective one too). I, too, fail to understand why the pro-firearm lobby hasn't pushed for better weapons.


Ah, well, such is the thinking of Fezboy!
posted by Fezboy! at 6:24 AM on March 23, 2001


"And even if it were possible, the guns would be replaced instantly by something else."

New headline: "14 California teens slapped with Rubbermaid spatula."
posted by mecran01 at 6:25 AM on March 23, 2001


More like "14 California teens killed by pipe bomb."
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:38 AM on March 23, 2001


Samsara wrote:

> What we have here, is a social disorder that stems out
> into the farthest reaches of what our society is today.
> We need to fix much much more than our schools to prevent
> this kind of retaliation. But who's going to do that?
> Are we really that doomed?

It's funny how wackos from the left and the right sometimes go so far around the tree in their respective directions that they meet on the other side. Speaking from the lunatic right, my feeling is that our ( for "our" please read "American," for those posting from outside the reservation) society is so hosed that our only hope of fixing things in time is for everybody to just down tools, STOP whatever they happen to be doing, and mill around in the streets until a long list of insanities gets corrected. The specific example I had in mind was Gandhi and the Indians sitting down in the streets until the Brits packed up and left. That's what I mean by closing the schools down, our schools being merely one of the more egregious examples of basic institutions that are hopelessly fucked and should shut down tomorrow -- other examples being the workplace, the economic system, the race/class system, the political system, etc. etc. rant rant. I realize this makes me sound exactly like a lunatic leftist shouting that the whole system is so hopelessly corrupt that the only solution is to smash it and start again from scratch.

I of course don't see this STOPPAGE happening any time soon, which is what reminded me of all the folks who couldn't bring themselves to flee their little niches in the Roman empire until the whole show was so rotten that the Vandals could blow it over with a French tickler.
posted by jfuller at 8:26 AM on March 23, 2001


samsara - I hope for now, we can find ways around the 2nd amendment for the sole purpose of limiting death by firearms without hindering those who have legitimate needs for them.

Um, a way around the Constitution? Is it really worth it to 'limit death by firearms'? As if other methods of injurous death aren't worth limiting? Or maybe we're more concerned with the guns than the death.

And who is going to determine what a 'legitimate need' for the weapon is? You and me? The NRA? The government? Oh wait, the government already has a document that spells out what the legitimate need for a gun is - the 2nd Ammendment.
posted by schlyer at 8:35 AM on March 23, 2001


jfuller: I think I'm starting to see where you're going with all this. Yes, we have more problems than we can count, many more than we can handle. But everyone has a different idea of what our problems are and how we can solve them. Which are we going to solve by shutting down all our institutions? Who is it we are hoping will flee if we act like "Gandhi and the Indians sitting down in the streets until the Brits packed up and left."? Just what kind of new structure are we to build once we have "smashed" the current structure?
posted by csovine at 9:21 AM on March 23, 2001


> Just what kind of new structure are we to build once we
> have "smashed" the current structure?

No no, I said it's not going to happen. The vast majority of us are going to stay on the train as it goes over the cliff, some of us because we don't recognize the need to jump off and the rest because we have no place to jump. Samsara's question was "Are we really that doomed?" and I'd say "yep." Whatever is going to happen to us is going to happen, because there's too many of us, each of us is too tiny and isolated, we can't agree on solutions. Humans, like all the other primates, are evolved to live in small groups. Agreement and consensus can be reached only in small groups. Mass society can't grapple with fundamental problems.
posted by jfuller at 10:20 AM on March 23, 2001


After seeing the number of comments, I thought "Great, another school shooting (and eventually gun control) thread. You bring the hand-wringing, I'll bring the over-wrought histrionics!"

But it didn't really degenerate into that. Let's give ourselves a pat on the back.
posted by dcehr at 10:27 AM on March 23, 2001


jfuller said:

Humans, like all the other primates, are evolved to live in small groups. Agreement and consensus can be reached only in small groups. Mass society can't grapple with fundamental problems.

I agree with that statement. I think that there are evolutionary advantages to smaller societal units. Partly because it makes for a more cohesive society, but also because it makes for a more diverse species.

Part of the survival strength of humanity has always been its diversity. One group might get wiped out, but the species survives. With globalization and homogenization, we lose some of our strength.

Diseases, whether affecting us directly or affecting our food supply, now spread more quickly, and we have less resistance.

Even supposing that we could get people to agree that globalization was harmful (an heroic assumption), I don't see how it can be stopped in a capitalist society. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to ameliorate its effects. We already try to make schools a local responsibility, and perhaps we need to move farther in that direction. I'm not advocating the elimination of schools, but I do know people who have had their younger children (elementary school age) in a cooperative setting. There's a professional staff, but each parent is required to teach or help teach a certain number of classes per week or month.

I'm not saying it would solve the whole problem, and in any case, I don't think we're riding a train over a cliff, but it might be a step in the right direction.
posted by anapestic at 10:53 AM on March 23, 2001


So... based on the idea that mass society is the problem, shouldn't we be *arming* our adolescents? WE'VE GOT TO THIN 0UT THE NUMBERS!

Thanks for the clarification JF. Now that I know you really did mean that we should just shut down society until the guns and violence pack up and leave (or until the Vandals at the gate see our passive sitting and decide not to attack us with their novelty sex toys), I can feel free to dismiss your ideas without guilt.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 11:05 AM on March 23, 2001


> I don't think we're riding a train over a cliff,

For your reading pleasure, since you're feeling so sanguine. Bear in mind as you read that I'm a right-winger, not a leftie. I simply think the beast is standing on our toes and breathing in our faces.
posted by jfuller at 11:09 AM on March 23, 2001


> Thanks for the clarification JF. Now that I know you
> really did mean that we should just shut down society
> until the guns and violence pack up and leave

Naw, Unk, you missed it. There is a distinction among loonies. My mirror image on the left says "the whole system is so hopelessly corrupt that the only solution is to smash it and start again from scratch." I say "the whole system is so hopelessly corrupt that the only solution is to smash it and start again from scratch, and that's not an option either." Peace'n'love'n'bollocks.
posted by jfuller at 11:17 AM on March 23, 2001


Well, jfuller, I'm willing to agree with you that things are pretty bad from an environmental perspective. And from that perspective, "riding a train over a cliff" might be justified. But I don't see how closing the schools will help. And I think that the link between environmental problems in the third world and school shootings in California is at best tenuous.

Indeed, the article argues that part of the problem is the out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality of people in the wealthier countries. So that's one case where more education is needed, not less.

In any case, I'm more interested in discussing solutions than in cursing the darkness. And solutions will likely come in small steps in the right direction.
posted by anapestic at 11:26 AM on March 23, 2001


vis10n: mail.com's e-mail server doesn't seem to be accepting mail. I got a soft-bounce ("unable to send mail past 4 hours") for my first message and tried again. If you want to take it over to QuickTopic using accountingboy's link, I'll meet you there.
posted by kindall at 11:32 AM on March 23, 2001


schlyer:: "And who is going to determine what a 'legitimate need' for the weapon is? You and me? The NRA? The government? Oh wait, the government already has a document that spells out what the legitimate need for a gun is - the 2nd Ammendment."

That's right, I'm not disputing that...and as many have pointed out, there was at one time a legitimate need for it....otherwise it would never have been thought of or written down on such an important document. We have arguments on both sides of it because guns are an issue in society (if you don't believe me...look at how many posts are on this page). I was merely suggesting, in order to satisfy the requirements of this "diverse" country of ours, we are going to have to find a way to make progress without involving the dismissal of the 2nd Amendment. But I was also looking at it objectively as far as what influences were present to have such a right (As Steven pointed out quite clearly). To me, the validity of the bill of rights is the most important factor of the continued strength of our government. But it goes without saying that influences and factors have changed dramatically since then....they couldn't have been predicted. At times, this issue becomes as pointless as going back to the Declaration of Independence to see how it could be relevant to today.

So lets use common sense without splitting off eh? Yeah, sure :)
posted by samsara at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2001


'More like "14 California teens killed by pipe bomb.'

That's true, the Columbine killers had bomb plans as well, but their attempts to shoot the propane tanks didn't work. And there have been other interrupted plans to bomb high schools as well.

--

If the point of a well-armed militia is to forestall internal despotism, then shouldn't citizens have access to the same weaponry as the govt.? i.e. tanks and jet fighters?

posted by mecran01 at 11:49 AM on March 23, 2001


Technically speaking, probably, but if you say that everybody thinks you're a real nutcase, so hardly anybody does.
posted by kindall at 1:03 PM on March 23, 2001


Jfuller, if you are going to pose that it's a catch-22 conundrum then say it from the start. I had the courtesy to at least couch that same idea within satire.

Fundamental change is a process with it's source in the individual and it's destination the masses and any effort must take both in mind.
posted by john at 1:11 PM on March 23, 2001


Sorry JF,
I don't know how I could have missed the distinction:

"It's way past time to shut the schools down. It astonishes me that the whole system wasn't shut down by simultaneous nationwide agreement the day after the first shooting. I guess families are so dependent on two incomes and desperate for a place to warehouse the kids during the day that any risk is acceptable. Shitty education, drugs, thuggish bullying, pregnancy, VD, death, anything."

Oh yeah, now I can see where you are saying that it's not an option... It's because we're desperate, right? Either that or it's our blind attachment to our Romanesque niches. See the problem is that some thugs tore out the chapter on screed-parsing in my "Loonies for Dummies" book. If only we could have kept them from getting an education...
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:32 PM on March 23, 2001


They also ripped up my "how to link to a previous comment" cheatsheet. Damn educated thugs!
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 1:34 PM on March 23, 2001


Kindall... Accountingboy... any one else who cares: a discussion about the second amendment has been started over at QuickTopics...
posted by silusGROK at 2:09 PM on March 23, 2001


Ah... that's why QuickTopics hasn't caught on: out of sight, out of mind.
posted by silusGROK at 11:40 AM on March 27, 2001


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