In the 1940s and '50s we didn't have mass school shootings

I'll get to the "why" shortly. First, the undeniable fact is that the number of school shootings is increasing.* Just in the last few days, there have been two--one stymied by hero Mark Dallas at Dixon High School in north-central Illinois  and two days later the one at a Santa Fe High School near Houston in which 10 people were killed. 

Dixon police Officer Mark Dallas who shot a suspect at Dixon High School after the 19-year-old fired shots near the school's gymnasium. (City of Dixon)

Dixon police Officer Mark Dallas who shot a suspect at Dixon High School after the 19-year-old fired shots near the school's gymnasium. (City of Dixon)

Add those to the growing list of recent shootings in American schools that dates back to pre-Revolutionary War days. In the 1950s--my 8 to 18 years--there were a total of 18 shootings, not all of them fatal. Like the first in the decade, in which a "16-year-old boy was shot in the wrist and abdomen at the [New York] Public School 141 dance during an argument with a former classmate." Some were accidental and one involved the fatal shooting by a police officer of a 50-year-old intruder to a girls' gym class in Manhattan. None were the tragic, random and mass shootings that we're witnessing today. 

So, why? My answer will anger progressives who see the availability of guns as the main, if not the sole, reason children are randomly killing scores of other children in schools.

It's the culture, stupid.

Sure, more guns are available today, legally and illegally. Street punks fighting each other in gang wars in the 1950s used knives, chains and zip guns, not semi-automatic rifles. Even though a great number of World War II souvenir guns was available. The highly publicized mob war shootings, such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, involved adults who targeted other outfit criminals, not teens.

But the other big thing that has changed as much or more is today's individualistic, materialistic and violent culture that is poisoning America. I'll leave it to the defenders of that culture to fruitlessly challenge the obvious. I don't have the time or the inclination to engage in their nonsense.

I fear that mass, random school shootings of innocents have become so ingrained in our culture that it has become a common practice, without any chance of soon abating. Just as it took years for this violent culture to take root in America, it will take years, maybe decades to cleanse it. And most of all, it will take a huge cultural shift.

Sure, the '50s were no Valhalla, but some things were better. My biggest fear then was that Sister Joseph Marie would find out that I hadn't done my homework. Not that some wacko would gun me down.

*For a different view, read: "There Is No ‘Epidemic of Mass School Shootings"  by Eric Levitz in New York magazine. Here's a description of the earliest shooting in 1764:

Enoch Brown school massacre: Perhaps the earliest shooting to happen on school or college property, in what would become the United States, was the notorious Enoch Brown school massacre during the Pontiac's War. Four Delaware (Lenape) American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown and nine children (reports vary). Only two children survived. However, this incident may only incidentally be considered a school "shooting" because only the teacher was shot, while the other nine victims were killed with melee weapons.

dennis@dennisbyrne.net

www.dennisbyrne.net

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

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  • There were no mass school shootings in the 1960's and 1970's, either. Progressive thought is that there are not absolute truths and that everybody is a victim of some sort.

    Often, the bullied in the decades of the 20th Century were allowed to work out their "differences" in a more traditional way: a fight after school. Nowadays, that is not allowed and formalized "anti-bullying" programs are in place that do little to stop the bullying. When a bullied student sees this system he is stuck in really isn't helping, he turns to other, more fantastical methods, ones seen on video alone in his room. He feels the victim, but the victim "advocates" are not there to help him. He falls through the cracks. He kills.

    Ban all the guns, confiscate them; it's not going to change the culture of no values, no respect for life and no fear of punishment. Right now, the next killer is out there, probably known to students, teachers and the authorities.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard you must have forgot the Texas Tower shooting in 1966 it was the start of the whole school shooting thing. Charles Whitman killed 17 people plus a fetus while up in the tower on Texas University's campus.

  • In my opinion, the best, most horrible explanation is outlined in this very long article: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/19/thresholds-of-violence

    The idea is a really long and slow riot. In any riot, there is the first hothead who throws the first rock. Then there is the second, who would only throw a rock if one other throws first. Then comes the third, who riots only if 2 go first.

    These shooters are going because others have gone first. The shooters who now destroy use those who have gone before to justify and lower the bar for the grievances that set them off.

    We've got to stop the flow of information (https://nonotoriety.com/). Why do we know names like Klebold? Harris? Roof? Lanza? If I don't know these names, then others don't either.

  • Dealing with mass murders should not be a partisan issue. These crazed killers don't ask about political affiliation. Our country is awash with guns and the time has come for sensible gun regulations, such as universal background checks whenever and wherever gun purchases are made. And no one needs a semi-automatic to hunt or for protection. Let's not sacrifice our children on the altar of the NRA.

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