Are Schools Targeted Because They’re Gun-Free Zones?

Following events in Connecticut and the gun control brouhaha, many gun rights advocates firmly support the idea of arming teachers or placing armed guards in all schools. Reactions are mixed as states are choosing their own choices.

Gun rights advocates know that taking away guns will not stop crime or shootings and rightly so. Disarming the 99.9% of legal and law-abiding citizens won’t stop the 100% of criminals who are already breaking the law.

So the question is will putting guns in schools prevent or dissuade any potential shootings in schools from occurring? It is a guarantee that the first time a shooter is successful in a school with an armed guard or teachers that the left and its gun grabbing crusaders will scream as loud as they can that it’s proof of ineffectiveness.

Are schools and movie theaters, really selected as targets because they are gun-free zones or because they are simply where the intended targets can be found?

Using this timeline of mass shootings since Columbine I have organized the motives of mass shooters as  being either random or selected targets. I doubt the list is comprehensive as it’s very likely a few instances of mass shootings are left off the list. Still the list provides 31 occasions to analyze.

The analysis is as follows.

Of 31 events;

  • 17 were chosen for their targets. This includes several family murders, workplace rampages, and school shootings. It also includes other forms of dispute such as religious and the Fort Hood shooting.
  • 12 shootings occurred at random without any direct cause for the locations choice.

Further analysis yields;

  • 12 shootings with recognized or previous mental disorders.
  • 2 with previous patterns of poor behavior, though not mental illness.(oddly, the truck driver and professor)
  • 2  without any suspects (lane bryant and Delaware State U.)
  • 2 events of terrorism. 1 targeted, fort hood, and 1 random, DC sniper

2  events are difficult to categorize. The first being the NIU shooting in 2008. The suspect had been a former student, though there isn’t enough substantial evidence to suggest he was actively targeting students. He appeared to be rather normal and not picked on as with other school shooters. So it remains uncategorized, though it would be placed in the “targeted” group if need be.

The other event is Sandy Hook. If we don’t know the killers motive yet, we likely never will. Though there is no reason why the shooter would target children rather than his peers if he was to shoot a school, the fact that it was his mothers school leaves some intrigue about the situation. There’s too much Freudian analysis to be put into that for me to do. If I had to I would categorize Sandy Hook like the Omaha department store shooting from 2007. A broken and suicidal young man looking to get attention on the way out.

The 12 instances of mental illness being prevalent in the perpetrator break down as such. 3 occurred in events which were categorized as targeted, and 7 occurred in events that were at random. The other 2 are the uncategorized events at NIU and Sandy Hook.

With 17 out of 29 shootings, 58%, being picked for their targets with the location simply being the background, would placing armed guards or arming teachers truly stop anything? Still nine of the shootings on the list took place at schools, so at a third of all shootings, it’s possible to have an effect. Yet, I have a breakdown of 3 of those schools being actively targeted, with 4 being completely randomly chosen, and two(NIU & Sandy Hook) being possibly selected but uncategorized.

Why does that matter, because the targeted shooters would still go through with it, though perhaps with more planning knowing what they were up against, while the randoms might simply choose another target. 3 out of 31, is 9%. Adding the two uncategorized, it’s still 16%.  My point is not that it is not worth protecting schools, but rather that the majority of these events occur outside of schools and addressing them only as they occur at schools does not truly address the problem.


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Posted on January 15, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hm. I tried to post a link but it seems to be lost in the web ether…probably a spam guard. I will just quote two paragraphs from the link:

    “The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started.

    The teachers are there already. The school staff is there already. Their reaction time is measured in seconds, not minutes. They can serve as your immediate violent response. Best case scenario, they engage and stop the attacker, or it bursts his fantasy bubble and he commits suicide. Worst case scenario, the armed staff provides a distraction, and while he’s concentrating on killing them, he’s not killing more children.”

    I agree with him. I think armed guards and/or armed teachers (caveat they have mandatory training with their weapon, not mandatory but elective of course no one who is uncomfortable with a firearm should ever wield one) are a good idea. That and smoke bombs to obstruct the view of the shooter (for dark theaters, a simple flashlight shined in the shooter’s eyes could have saved lives).

    • I agree Liz. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have them in place. However I still don’t think it stops things from happening, just changes the dynamics of how they happen.

  2. The thing about Columbine that didn’t get widespread attention was that the 2 guys were actually part of a broad circle of friends and had some status. They were not loners.

    I think the DC Sniper case has been proven to not be random but was part of an orchestated, long con to allow the man to kill his ex-wife and make it look like one of the ‘random’ sniper serial killer victims.

    • Each case has its own distinct characteristics but they can all generally be categorized as either random or planned. If it’s planned there isn’t much hope of stopping it and if it’s random it becomes a flip of a coin as to whether there is someone there to stop it. In all cases though it is the perpetrator that is guilty.

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