August 27th was the first day of school across most of the state of Maryland. After sending my own daughter off to her first day of high school, I left for work. After settling in and working for a bit, I clicked into the internet to look up some information I needed for a project. A glaring headline caught my eye “PERRY HALL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT SHOT ON FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL”
My heart sunk and I thought “Here we go again!” Then the news started dribbling in bit by bit, and it was, in fact, a “school shooting”. This one just got a little too close to home, only one county over from where my own child sat in a similar high school cafeteria. As I waited for more information, my next thought was “Have we have really gotten to the point where an adult or teen who should know better, or at least should have been taught better, throws a temper tantrum like a 2 year old with a gun?” Sadly, the answer is yes.
In this case, a 15 year old shooter, Robert, Gladden Jr., brought a shotgun into school, walked into the cafeteria and opened fire. A school Guidance Counselor, Jesse Wasmer, tackled the shooter after he only managed to get off two shots … miraculous in that the shooter had over 20 rounds with him.
The only student shot, a 17 year old special needs student named Daniel Borowy, was critically wounded, but survived. Gladden was arrested at the scene and has been charged as an adult with attempted first degree murder and first degree assault. No deaths, fortunately, as the shooter had put on his Facebook page “First day of school, last day of my life.” Thanks to Mr. Wasmer, no one had to die, this time.
The press has descended on the shooter’s family, who claim that their son was bullied, though those details are sketchy as well. They gave a statement that said “We are horrified. We did not see this coming and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and the victim’s family.”
While I feel for Gladden’s family, I truly believe that this shooting along with the Aurora Shooting on July 20th, Sikh Temple shooting August 5th, The Family Research Council shooting on August 15th, and the Empire State Building shooting August 24th are examples of how our society has lost its concept of responsibility, accountability and restraint. Internet postings from people wishing others dead because of their beliefs and general election nastiness are simple examples. The shootings are just the same thing to an extreme.
I also believe that we are seeing the consequences of a generation or two of lax parenting (see Discipline:The Lost Word). When we don’t teach small children to control themselves, the teens and adults they become won’t either.
Some, however, would argue that it’s because of the bad economy. It’s well known in law enforcement that when the economy goes down, crime goes up. This “Great Recession” has been the cause of the loss of homes and jobs for millions, and many people feel a sense of desperation. They want to hold onto what they have, sometimes at all costs. Bad times can push even the most law abiding among us into criminal activity.
Sometimes it’s just the “I don’t have enough to get everything I need from the grocery store, so I’ll just fudge the numbers on how many boxes of X I have.” kind of theft, to burglary, robbery and other types of theft just to make ends meet or to feed their families. Incidents of domestic violence also rise as people vent their frustrations on those around them. Alcohol and drug abuse climb because they want to escape their troubles.
When it comes to the extreme of mass shootings, I disagree with this view. While I will agree that it may be the straw that broke the camel’s back, I don’t think that we can blame the economy wholesale. How often would this really happen if we had societal expectations that losing control and acting like a petulant child when you don’t get what you want is not ok? Would we be seeing fewer mass shootings or less crime if we actually taught kids that the Judeo-Christian values that our country was founded upon were more than just quaint sayings easily tossed aside because a few might find them “offensive”?
I find the actions of the shooters acting out their toddler rage with a weapon offensive. I would hope that we, as a society, would too.