A New Approach to Mass Shootings
April 20, 1999.
A date that changed America forever. Although I did not exist at the time of the event, I can still feel the ripples throughout American society. The closest thing I can compare it to is the September 11th terrorist attacks. This deadly school shooting was not the first attack on a school in United States history but it was the first one to really leave an impact.
The Columbine school shooting was a wake up call for our country, who was readying to enter an entirely new millennium. Little did we know of the new dangers that this millennium would entail.
Why is this event still relevant to us today? How are we still feelings its ripples today? The simple answer is the basic concept of a copycat crime, while the more complex answer is the psychology behind that. The two seniors who attacked their high school and committed suicide after taking 13 lives are seen as gods by some. People, like the Parkland shooter, with mental disorders see the Columbine shooters as people to look up to. These are the people they wish to mimic.
How is this relevant to Parkland? The Parkland shooter likely left a comment on a documentary about the 1966 tower sniper shooting at the University of Texas claiming that he will ‘do what he did.’
He obviously looked into other instances of mass killings and wished to do the same thing. This is especially dangerous in the internet age where videos of what the killer did to kids in Parkland can be found on Twitter. The sounds of bullets and teenagers screaming coming from your phone. That sinking feeling in your stomach showing you that even the thought of human life being extinguished scares you.
Not everyone has that capacity for empathy. I am willing to bet that there is someone out there in a terrible state of mind watching those videos. This individual is thinking about the damage he/she could inflict. He/she is thinking about those that have neglected them or excluded them. Revenge is possible and if someone else can do it, why can’t they?
I know the very thought of that crossing anyone’s mind is disgusting but it is a harsh reality. There are a myriad of mental disorders that can impair one’s compassion. A high school junior in 1979 attacked an elementary school with a sniper and killed two people, injuring nine others. When asked why she did it, she simply stated that she ‘[doesn’t] like Mondays.’
People like this can tick so easily. It is not video games or movies or music making them the way they are. There are serious issues wrong with their mental state that politicians don’t want to talk about. Banning guns or video games are simple answers but ultimately, more help for those with mental health issues is the answer that they are afraid of.
Now, back to the concept of a copycat crime and Columbine. The first deadly school shooting in 2 decades occurred in Canada only 8 days after Columbine. After being bullied, a 14 year old student opened fire on his school and killed one person. Due to the proximity of the Columbine shooting, many people speculate that this was a copycat crime. They speculate that this shooter was somehow inspired by the Columbine shooters to enact vengeance upon those who wronged him.
This is only one incident with a low fatality count, so why does this even matter? These two shooters are seen as ‘rockstars’ by troubled teens and it is estimated that there has been over 50 plots to attack schools inspired by Columbine. And these numbers are only ones in the United States and only those instances where Columbine was directly mentioned.
MAY 20, 1999. A 17 year old student opens fire on his school, injuring 6 people. This student espouses in a 3 page letter that he is a part of the ‘Trenchcoat Mafia’ that the Columbine shooters created.
In 1999, there were four attempts at replicating Columbine in the United States. In 2000, there was only one. In 2001, this number jumped up to six and luckily there are no recorded attempts in 2002. 2003 included three attempts. In 2004, there were four. 2005, three. 2006, five. 2007, seven. 2008, three. 2009, two. 2010 and 2011, one for each year. 2012, three. 2013, four. 2014, six. And that is when that specific report ends.
I am sure you stopped reading all of those mundane letters after a certain point, so let me break it down. The number of crimes in 15 years that were directly inspired by Columbine add up to 53. Note that many attempts may have been relegated to local stories and slipped under the radar. Or maybe there was not enough evidence that Columbine was an inspiration.
I am almost willing to bet that the Parkland shooter did some research on Columbine. I am sure he read up on the shooter’s writings and read about the Trenchcoat Mafia and their disgusting version of extreme social Darwinism. I am sure he looked into many other mass killers. The evidence that he at least looked into that 1966 sniper tower shooting is there. His internet browsing history would be an interesting yet scary place to delve into.
So what feeds into this copycat phenomenon? Maybe it is the celebrity status we give these killers. We say this is the new ‘deadliest’ mass killing every single mass killing that occurs. We attach that ‘high score’ and the thought of doing better than that crosses some sick minds.
So I have a new approach that I was opened up to by the Daily Wire.
Don’t use the killer’s name. You may notice that within this article, I have never used the killer’s name myself. I have never used any of the names of any other mass murderers’ I mentioned either. The names are still available through pictures and links I provided for context but I will use their actual names as little as I possible can. Names are power and heroes like Aaron Feis should be more of a household name than any sick murderer.