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The Columbine High School massacre and the more recent Sandy Hook massacre are the very epitome of our violent selves, made worse in the innocent children who were the primary targets. Teachers and staff who tried to save their students were also killed. These two but singular shootings were only the worst and most notable of a pattern of violence built-in by nature. The evidence is now just too prevalent, self-consistent and consilient with nature to ignore. See Peace via Nature’s Way for both the causes and some ways forward.

What follows are excerpts and [commentary] of the Columbine and Sandy Hook massacres along with a listing of similar shootings world-wide insofar as they are reported.

Most-Notable US School Shootings

Columbine Shooting

In 1996, Eric Harris created a private website on America Online. Harris initially created the site to host gaming levels of the video game Doom, which he and his friend, Dylan Klebold, had created, primarily for friends. On this site, Harris began a blog, which included jokes and short journal entries with thoughts on parents, school, and friends. By the end of the year, the site contained instructions on how to cause mischief, as well as instructions on how to make explosives, and blogs in which he described the trouble he and Klebold were causing. Beginning in early 1997, the blog postings began to show the first signs of Harris's ever-growing anger against society.

The massacre

On the morning of Tuesday, April 20, 1999, Harris and Klebold placed a small fire bomb in a field about three miles south of Columbine High School, and two miles south of the fire station.[19] Set to explode at 11:14 a.m., the bomb was a diversion to draw firefighters and emergency personnel away from the school. (It partially detonated and caused a small fire, which was quickly extinguished by the fire department.)

At 11:10 a.m. Harris and Klebold arrived separately at Columbine High School. Harris parked his vehicle in the Junior student parking lot, by the south entrance, and Klebold parked in the adjoining Senior student parking lot, by the west entrance. The school cafeteria, their bomb target, with its long outside window-wall and ground-level doors, was between their parking spots.

After parking their cars, the duo met near Harris's car and armed two 20 pound (9 kg) propane bombs before entering the cafeteria a few minutes prior to the beginning of the A lunch shift. The youths placed the duffel bags containing the bombs—set to explode at approximately 11:17 a.m. inside the cafeteria before returning to their separate vehicles to await the explosion, and to shoot survivors fleeing the building. Had the bombs exploded with full power, they would have killed or severely wounded all 488 students in the cafeteria and possibly collapsed the ceiling, dropping part of the library into the cafeteria. [This mere thought is gut wrenching!] But it fits the idea that it is just one expression of our genome where we each are at war with ourselves, whether we know it or not. See Milgram, Zimbardo, and Abu Ghraib for the most important and definitive experiments on our inner tendencies toward not only violence, but our overly obedient nature that allows us to go beyond our normal senses of morality.

Shooting begins 11:19 a.m.

When the cafeteria bombs failed to explode, Harris and Klebold convened and walked toward the school. Both armed, they climbed to the top of the outdoor West Entrance steps, placing them on a level with the athletic fields west of the building and the library inside the West Entrance, directly above the cafeteria. From this vantage point, the cafeteria's West Entrance was located at the bottom of the staircase, next to the Senior parking lot.

At 11:19 a.m., a witness heard Eric Harris yell "Go! Go!" The two gunmen pulled their guns from beneath their trench coats and began shooting at two 17-year-old students who had been sitting in the grass next to the West Entrance of the school. Rachel Scott was hit four times and killed instantly. Richard Castaldo was shot eight times in the chest, arm and abdomen and paralyzed below the chest.[4] It is unknown who fired first or which gunman shot and killed Scott.[24]

…After the first two shootings, Harris removed his trench coat and aimed his 9 mm carbine down the West Staircase toward three youths: 15-year-olds Daniel Rohrbough and Sean Graves and 16-year-old Lance Kirklin. The three friends had been ascending the staircase directly below the shooters. Kirklin later reported seeing Klebold and Harris standing at the top of the staircase, before opening fire. All three youths were shot and wounded. Harris and Klebold turned and began shooting west in the direction of five students sitting on the grassy hillside adjacent to the steps and opposite the West Entrance of the school. 15-year-old Michael Johnson was hit in the face, leg and arm, but ran and escaped; 16-year-old Mark Taylor was shot in the chest, arms and leg and fell to the ground, where he feigned death. The other three escaped uninjured.

Klebold walked down the steps toward the cafeteria. He shot Kirklin in the face, critically wounding him. Daniel Rohrbough and Sean Graves had descended the staircase when Klebold and Harris's attention was diverted by the students on the grass; Graves had crawled into the doorway of the cafeteria's west entrance and collapsed. Klebold shot Rohrbough through the upper left chest at close range, killing him and then stepped over the injured Sean Graves to enter the cafeteria. Officials speculated that Klebold went to the cafeteria to check on the propane bombs. Harris shot down the steps at several students sitting near the cafeteria's entrance, severely wounding and partially paralyzing 17-year-old Anne-Marie Hochhalter as she tried to flee. Klebold came out of the cafeteria and went back up the stairs to join Harris.

They shot toward students standing close to a soccer field, but did not hit anyone. They walked toward the West Entrance, throwing pipe bombs, very few of which detonated. Patti Nielson, a teacher, had noticed the commotion and walked toward the West Entrance with a 16-year-old student, Brian Anderson. She had intended to walk outside to tell the two students to "Knock it off," thinking Klebold and Harris were either filming a video or pulling a student prank. As Anderson opened the first set of double doors, Harris and Klebold shot out the windows, injuring him with flying glass and hitting Nielson in the shoulder with shrapnel. Nielson stood and ran back down the hall into the library, alerting the students inside to the danger and telling them to get under desks and keep silent. She dialed 9-1-1 and hid under the library's administrative counter. Anderson remained behind, caught between the exterior and interior doors

Injuries and deaths in initial incident

  • Brian Anderson, age 16. Injured near the West Entrance by flying glass.
  • Richard Castaldo, age 17. Shot in the arm, chest, back and abdomen alongside the West Entrance to the school.
  • Sean Graves, age 15. Shot in the back, foot and abdomen on the West Staircase.
  • Anne-Marie Hochhalter, age 17. Shot in the chest, arm, abdomen, back, and left leg near the cafeteria's entrance.
  • Michael Johnson, age 15. Shot in the face, arm and leg to the west of the staircase.
  • Lance Kirklin, age 16. Critically injured by shots to the leg, neck and jaw on the West Staircase.
  • Patti Nielson, age 35. Hit in the shoulder by shrapnel near the West Entrance.
  • Stephanie Munson, age 16. Shot in the ankle inside the North Hallway.
  • Daniel Rohrbough, age 15. Killed by a shot to the chest at the base of the West Staircase.
  • William David Sanders, age 47. Died of blood loss after being shot in the neck and back inside the South Hallway.
  • Rachel Scott, age 17. Killed by shots to the head, torso and leg alongside the West Entrance of the school.
  • Mark Taylor, age 16. Shot in the chest, arms and leg to the west of the staircase

The Columbine High School massacre (often known simply as Columbine) was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County within the American State of Colorado. In the school shooting, two senior students named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered a total of 12 students and coach William Sanders. They also injured 21 additional students, with three other people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide.

… The history of killings in schools is disheartening at best, wrenching at worst. And disturbing in any event. One cannot escape the emotionalism. … These problems are grossly aggravated by the ready availability of guns.

From Wikipedia: Further evidence that is right on.

On nature’s side, public violence arises from the internal wars waging in many if not most of us between our benevolent and violent selves. While widely admitted, too many of us are in denial of that internal predisposition. But many societies do a better job of it than we do. Norway, for example, cherishes their individual peacefulness. When violence occurs there as it has, the society mourns. We do not need to look just elsewhere for an example. The Amish response to their school shooting on October 2, 2006, was one of remorse, not just for the victim, but also for the perpetrator, who was not Amish, as well. “The emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation in the response of the Amish community was widely discussed in the national media”

Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

From Wikipedia
Location: Newtown Connecticut. US

Date: December 14, 2012

Target: Students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School. [He began by killing his mother first. Then the students. And that makes it appear that his mother was his primary target. So great was his rage, the students reflected what she stood for and became secondary targets in his fatal rage where life seemed not to be worth living. It may not be possible beyond inference, but we think his genetic temperament together with her personality that was not adequate as a parent simply did not mesh. Extreme behavior is often the result of such a mismatch between a child and caregiver--even those with the best of intentions. In researching this angle, most people who knew his mother may have little or no insight into her behavior or how it might have been harmful. His father may be in the same boat, but he and any grandparents along with any other extended family members could at least describe her behavior and reactions under various conditions. From that some indirect insights might be gleaned from a psychological postmortem. Hopefully, this avenue is already being explored.]

Deaths: 28 total; 27 at the school (including perpetrator) and perpetrator's mother (at home).

Injuries: 2

Perpetrator: Adam Peter Lanza

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. Before driving to the school, Lanza had shot and killed his mother Nancy at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

The incident is the second deadliest shooting in American history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. It is the second-deadliest mass murder at an American elementary school, after the 1927 Bath School bombings in Michigan.

The shootings prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States, and a proposal for new legislation banning the sale and manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic weapons and magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition.

At about 9:35 am, using his mother's Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, Lanza shot his way through a locked glass door at the front of the school. He was wearing black clothing, earplugs and an olive green utility vest, carrying magazines for the Bushmaster. Initial reports that he had been wearing body armor were incorrect. Some of those present heard initial shots on the school intercom system, which was being used for morning announcements.


Perpetrator's mother, Nancy Lanza (shot at home)

  • Rachel D'Avino, teacher's aide[33]
  • Dawn Hochsprung, principal
  • Anne Marie Murphy, teacher's aide[34]
  • Lauren Rousseau, teacher
  • Mary Sherlach, school psychologist
  • Victoria Leigh Soto, teacher
    First grade students
    • Charlotte Bacon
    • Daniel Barden
    • Olivia Engel
    • Josephine Gay
    • Dylan Hockley
    • Madeleine Hsu
    • Catherine Hubbard
    • Chase Kowalski
    • Jesse Lewis
    • Ana Marquez-Greene
    • James Mattioli
    • Grace McDonnell
    • Emilie Parker
    • Jack Pinto
    • Noah Pozner
    • Caroline Previdi
    • Jessica Rekos
    • Avielle Richman
    • Benjamin Wheeler
    • Allison Wyatt

    • Natalie Hammond, lead teacher
    • One unnamed adult

    Some details on Lanza

    Adam Peter Lanza was born on April 22, 1992, in Exeter, New Hampshire. He and his mother lived in Sandy Hook, 5 miles (8 km) from the elementary school. He did not have a criminal record. He attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for a brief time. Afterward, he attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Newtown, and then Newtown High School, where he was an honors student. Lanza subsequently was home-schooled by his mother, and earned a GED. Lanza's aunt said his mother removed him from the Newtown public school system because she was unhappy with the school district's plans for her son. He attended Western Connecticut State University in 2008 and 2009. Students and teachers who knew him in high school described Lanza as "intelligent, but nervous and fidgety". He avoided attracting attention and was uncomfortable socializing. He is not known to have had any close friends in school.

    Lanza's brother told law enforcement that Adam was believed to have a personality disorder and was "somewhat autistic". An anonymous law enforcement official and friends of Nancy Lanza reported that Adam had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. According to the Hartford Courant and Frontline, Lanza was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder when he was about 6. This disorder does not have official status by the medical community as a formal diagnosis but is frequently one of the characteristics of autism.

    Due to concerns that published accounts of Lanza's autism could result in a backlash against others with the condition, autism advocates campaigned to clarify that autism is a brain-related developmental problem and not a mental illness. The predatory aggression demonstrated by Lanza in this rampage is generally not seen in the autistic population.

    Following her divorce from Adam's father, a corporate executive, Nancy Lanza was supported by alimony payments. A relative commented that she did not have to work because the divorce settlement had left her "very well off". There were initially conflicting reports on whether Lanza had worked as a volunteer at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Her sister-in-law described Nancy Lanza as a gun enthusiast, who owned at least a dozen firearms. She often took her two sons to a local shooting range and had them learn to shoot.

    President Barack Obama gave a televised address the day of the shootings, saying, "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." Obama expressed "enormous sympathy for families that are affected". He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and other U.S. federal government facilities worldwide in respect of the victims. On December 16, Obama traveled to Newtown where he met with victims' families and spoke at an interfaith vigil. President Obama will honor the six slain adults posthumously with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal on February 15, 2013.

    U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said "... our thanks go out to every teacher, staff member, and first responder who cared for, comforted, and protected children from harm, often at risk to themselves. We will do everything in our power to assist and support the healing and recovery of Newtown." Minute of silence observed in the White House on December 21, 2012.

    In his speech at the December 16 vigil, Obama called for using "whatever power this office holds", to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Within 15 hours of the incident, 100,000 Americans signed a petition at the Obama administration's We the People petitioning website in support of a renewed national debate on gun control. President Obama later affirmed that he would make gun control a "central issue" at the start of his second term of office, in a speech on December 19. The President formed a Gun Violence Task Force to be led by Vice President Joe Biden to address the causes of gun violence in the United States. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joe Lieberman called for an assault weapon ban, with Feinstein intending to introduce a ban bill on the first day of the new Congress, while former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot and injured in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, has launched Americans for Responsible Solutions to raise money for further gun control efforts in light of the Sandy Hook shooting. Fear of future restrictions on firearms led to a spike in sales of guns, ammunition, and magazines in the weeks following the shooting.

    On December 21, 2012, the National Rifle Association called on the United States Congress to appropriate funds for the hiring of armed police officers in every American school to protect students. The NRA also announced the creation of a school protection program called the National School Shield Program, which would be led by former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrator and United States Congressman Asa Hutchinson.

    A month after the shooting, President Obama cited the incident while announcing proposals for increased gun control. His proposals included universal background checks on firearms purchases, an assault weapons ban, and limiting magazine capacity to 10 cartridges. Relatives of the victims in the shooting and survivors from other mass shootings were official guests during the announcement.

    On January 17, 2013, the Utah Sheriff's Association sent a letter to President Obama criticizing attempts "to demonize firearms". In the letter, they suggested that they would refuse to uphold federal laws that restricted the Second Amendment rights of their constituents. In reaction to anticipated restrictions on Second Amendment rights, gun permit applications increased dramatically in a multi-state trend that followed the Connecticut school shooting.

    The following bullets list is exemplary, not complete. And of course there were many before and after this period. But this snap shot is enough to make the blood boil in most people, including many who would put guns in every home in America. But as emotional as this event is, if we respond only with Band Aids for political show, we will be asking for more of the same. See Guns and Violence for more on that. Political backbone is needed at a time when Washington seems have precious little of it.

    • Feb. 2, 1996: Moses Lake, Wash: Two students and one teacher killed, one other wounded when 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis opened fire on his algebra class.
    • March 13, 1996: Dunblane, Scotland: 16 children and one teacher killed at Dunblane Primary School by Thomas Hamilton, who then killed himself. 10 others wounded in attack.
    • Feb. 19, 1997: Bethel, Alaska: Principal and one student killed, two others wounded by Evan Ramsey, 16
    • March 1997: Sanaa, Yemen: Eight people (six students and two others) at two schools killed by Mohammad Ahman al-Naziri
    • Oct. 1, 1997: Pearl, Miss: Two students killed and seven wounded by Luke Woodham, 16, who was also accused of killing his mother. He and his friends were said to be outcasts who worshiped Satan.
    • Dec. 1, 1997: West Paducah, Ky: Three students killed, five wounded by Michael Carneal, 14, as they participated in a prayer circle at Heath High School.
    • Dec. 15, 1997: Stamps, Ark: Two students wounded. Colt Todd, 14, was hiding in the woods when he shot the students as they stood in the parking lot.
    • March 24, 1998: Jonesboro, Ark: Four students and one teacher killed, ten others wounded outside as Westside Middle School emptied during a false fire alarm. Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, shot at their classmates and teachers from the woods.
    • April 24, 1998: Edinboro, Pa: One teacher, John Gillette, killed, two students wounded at a dance at James W. Parker Middle School. Andrew Wurst, 14, was charged
    • May 19, 1998: Fayetteville, Tenn: One student killed in the parking lot at Lincoln County High School three days before he was to graduate. The victim was dating the ex-girlfriend of his killer, 18-year-old honor student Jacob Davis.
    • May 21, 1998: Springfield, Ore: Two students killed, 22 others wounded in the cafeteria at Thurston High School by 15-year-old Kip Kinkel. Kinkel had been arrested and released a day earlier for bringing a gun to school. His parents were later found dead at home.
    • June 15, 1998: Richmond, Va. One teacher and one guidance counselor wounded by a 14-year-old boy in the school hallway.
    • April 20, 1999: Littleton, Colo: 14 students (including killers) and one teacher killed, 23 others wounded at Columbine High School in the nation's deadliest school shooting. Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, had plotted for a year to kill at least 500 and blow up their school. At the end of their hour-long rampage, they turned their guns on themselves.
    • April 28, 1999: Taber, Alberta, Canada One student killed, one wounded at W. R. Myers High School in first fatal high school shooting in Canada in 20 years. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy, had dropped out of school after he was severely ostracized by his classmates.
    • May 20, 1999: Conyers, Ga: Six students injured at Heritage High School by Thomas Solomon, 15, who was reportedly depressed after breaking up with his girlfriend
    • Nov. 19, 1999: Deming, N.M: Victor Cordova Jr., 12, shot and killed Araceli Tena, 13, in the lobby of Deming Middle School.
    • Dec. 6, 1999: Fort Gibson, Okla: Four students wounded as Seth Trickey, 13, opened fire with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at Fort Gibson Middle School.
    • Dec. 7, 1999: Veghel, Netherlands: One teacher and three students wounded by a 17-year-old student.
    • Feb. 29, 2000: Mount Morris Township, Mich: Six-year-old Kayla Rolland shot dead at Buell Elementary School near Flint, Mich. The assailant was identified as a six-year-old boy with a .32-caliber handgun.
    • March 2000: Branneburg, Germany: One teacher killed by a 15-year-old student, who then shot himself. The shooter has been in a coma ever since.
    • March 10, 2000: Savannah, Ga: Two students killed by Darrell Ingram, 19, while leaving a dance sponsored by Beach High School.
    • May 26, 2000: Lake Worth, Fla: One teacher, Barry Grunow, shot and killed at Lake Worth Middle School by Nate Brazill, 13, with .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol on the last day of classes.
    • Sept. 26, 2000: New Orleans, La: Two students wounded with the same gun during a fight at Woodson Middle School.
    • Jan. 17, 2001: Baltimore, Md: One student shot and killed in front of Lake Clifton Eastern High School
    • Jan. 18, 2001: Jan, Sweden: One student killed by two boys, ages 17 and 19.

    As polarized as America has become, there is little hope that Band Aid controls alone will be effective. It may take at least four Constitutional amendments before we can institute a truly effective policy on guns, let alone the larger issue of the violence built into our genes. The first amendment would clarify the Second Amendment word "militia" as meaning only those belonging to a state "National Guard", a military organization that is well regulated and specifically does not include ordinary citizens, corporations, and the like. This interpretation is consistent with the times both now and back then as we faced new frontiers after throwing off the yoke of colonial Britain.

    The second amendment would outlaw unequal representation that both gerrymandering and filibuster accomplish. Election districts that minimize their perimeter to area ratios should become constitutional law. Rules requiring super majorities in Congress for legislation not otherwise specifically mandated otherwise by the constitution must be prohibited. The tough rules for constitutional amendments are enough to insure political stability. The well being of America must come ahead of special interests.

    The third amendment would simply define a citizen as a person born in the United States, and can prove it, or who has become naturalized by legal procedures. This one needs a grandfather clause in order to preserve those registered voters who are in fact already citizens by definition but who lack birth certificates.

    The fourth amendment limiting each candidate for office to a maximum of funds spent by their campaign committees, would also be a further safeguard for democracy. It should further limit political expenditures by individuals, corporations or other organizations, including religious, of any size to the equivalent value of 2010-20,000 US dollars.

    Of course it may not be reasonable that these actions all occur at once in a democracy that requires and benefits from dialogue in their preparation. But if we don't move soon on this, our downward spiral into gun violence could become institutionalized to our ultimate discredit and regret. As serious as it is, gun violence is only one method by which we do violence to one another. However, all is not lost, for with understanding, comes control. See Peace via Nature's Way for an overview of our present take on that larger issue.

    How can a "democracy" that cannot recognize majority rule be a democracy?

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