Yesterday, ten people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College.
Such shootings have become all too common and absurdly the U.S. Congress refuses to consider any gun control legislation despite President Obama’s push for such. Pro-gun lobbyists and gun manufacturers fund the campaigns of several prominent Senators and Congressman but America’s culture plays a part more than any in the widespread violence. In a wild country that was tamed by weapons and won its independence through war, many citizens believe it’s every American’s right to bear arms, a result of a seemingly inaccurate reading of the constitution’s second amendment. In the wealthiest country in the world, this mindset no longer has any relevance.
Gun violence in America is always troubling: whether the case of Tamir Rice , a 12 year old fatally shot by police without warning for carrying a toy gun in Cleveland, Ohio, or the shooting in Chattanooga of four U.S. Marines. There are clearly too many guns, which are all too easy to access and are seen as the solution to many personal problems. The latest shooting follows a trend of mass murder carried out on places of education, usually by students, and it has emerged, somewhat, as its own sub-culture. It is the 45th school shooting in the U.S. this year and the 402nd school shooting since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. These numbers are staggering especially in a country that claims to be the most developed on earth.
The most recent shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer wrote online before the massacre in regard to the shooting of two reporters live on air by Bryce Williams:
On an interesting note, I have noticed that so many people like him [Williams] are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood the whole world knows who they are. A man, who is known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.
These chilling words highlight part of the reasoning for his actions and unfortunately it is not a new motivator for mass school shootings. Many of the shooters often have differentiating factors such as extreme right-wing ideologies or an anti-immigrant sentiment but the thing they all share is a desire to become famous.
Lately, in the UK, a considerable number of loners of this variety have gone abroad to join groups like ISIS but in America shooting up a school is now an effective way for any disgruntled, disenfranchised and depressed young person to lash out and issue a one last ‘F*ck you’ to the world they feel has treated them so harshly. Just as the proponents of the infamous Columbine massacre were inspired by the Oklahoma City bombing, the shooting in Oregon will almost certainly inspire another mass school shooting. Despite figures like the Douglas County Sheriff, John Hanlin, not giving the shooter the credit and fame which he ‘probably sought’ to help stop the spread of this culture, mass shooting in schools, cinemas and army bases will only continue if America doesn’t change its lack of gun regulation.
While some in the United States will argue that all the motives of school shootings are a result of mental health problems, probably to move the limelight away from the out-of-control gun culture, most of these school shooters are sane. The accessibility of guns and the frequency of such massacres, and the coverage they gain, make it appealing for the unknown to carry out these acts to gain worldwide infamy. To the rest of the western world, the American school shootings shock and appall, but to every ordinary American it’s become so common that it’s just part of another day in ‘the greatest nation on Earth’.