2012 has been a year of unusually high frequency of shootings in America. The year has been concluded (I hope) with not only the biggest massacre in terms of the death toll, but of a nature too horrific for anyone to expect. (Update: Yet another shooting in an Alabama hospital, which could have been equally horrendous if the gunman was not shot, a shoot out in Alabama involving a car chase and four shot in PA. The madness is not ending).
Nobody thought that innocent six year olds in kindergarten would be mowed down by machine guns. Yet, warning signs should have come up that a massacre of children could happen. Not all shootings this year have been committed because of personal or political reasons. Those who killed this year for said reasons include the neo-Nazi shooting in a Wisconsin Sikh temple on August 5 and the mentally ill person in College Station, Texas who shot policemen approaching his home and bystanders on August 13, and in the years before, the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings. In such cases, all targets are adults or mature human beings. But the Colorado Theatre shooting was completely without cause. The gunman did it just for the sake of it. He had nothing against his victims. If people like James Holmes exist, then the authorities should have anticipated that young children could also be targeted by mass shooters.
What happened is most tragic and will ruin the Christmas of twenty families for the rest of their lives. Naturally, people are now deliberating on what could be done to prevent such a thing from happening again. The gun control debate, which was being fanned by the previous 2012 incidents, has received new invigoration.
This analysis is to prove that guns are only partially responsible for the gun violence in America. There is also the way people are raised. As one doctor said on CNN during the coverage of the Connecticut school shooting, “Our culture is sick.” There is a serious problem in America that is shaping the minds of those who shoot at other human beings for no reason at all.
Let me give a very simple analysis that could cut at the root of the problem.
Most of the perpetrators of this year’s shootings are very young, in their early twenties, which means they have just begun life. Most of the worst American shootings in previous years were committed in schools by both very young adults, such as the Virginia Tech shooter, or teenagers that did not even begin life yet, such as the pair at Columbine High School during the April 1999 shooting, and a few others. Of the three worst shootings of 2012, at the Aurora theatre, Wisconsin temple, and now, the Connecticut school, two were committed by young people. Adam Lanza and James Holmes were close to twenty years of age. And their massacres were far bigger than the one committed on a lesser scale by the older gunman, Wade Michael Page, who killed six Sikhs in Wisconsin.
It is probably common knowledge that if people who have just started life commit an atrocity, their upbringing is usually responsible. By contrast, if an older person who has already been independent for a long time does something, the direction he took in life is usually the cause. (Wade Michael Page must have had a very normal upbringing, seeing he became a psy-ops operative. Over time he became attracted to xenophobic ideologies, became a neo-Nazi, and then, one day, he shot to death worshippers in a Sikh Temple in America.) When a youngster shoots, something serious has gone wrong, and it involves more than guns.
Youngsters form the majority of perpetrators of mass shootings in the US. They shoot on a far bigger scale than older individuals. There are so many public Sikh places that Wade Michael Page could have easily chosen a bigger target and could have shot far more Sikhs. Instead, it seems he controlled the number of deaths he wanted (he may have just wanted to scare away foreigners). By contrast, young shooters have one goal in mind: to shoot as many as they can. The four biggest shootings in recent American history were committed by the following people:
21 year old Adam Lanza, 27 people shot dead, Sandy Hook Elementary School, December 14, 2012
24 year old James Holmes, 12 people shot dead, Aurora theatre, July 20, 2012
23 year old Seung-Hui Cho, 32 people shot dead, Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007
18 year old Eric Harris and 17 year old Dylan Klebold, 12 shot dead, Columbine High School, April 20, 1999.
The shootings at malls just before the Sandy Hook tragedy and before the Republican National Convention were also done by individuals in their early twenties.
Just as young people are most commonly accounted for amongst mass shooting offenders, so they probably also do in general gun violence in America, where 100,000 people get shot every year.
Therefore, the upbringing of children is the most serious issue in American gun violence. The problem is the epidemic of violence on TV and in video games. Violent video games are common, and their users actually carry out various lethal activities virtually. Minds that grow up on such violence are more likely to conceive a real shooting spree. Besides violent video games, violent movies are also common. Films with actors like Arnold Schwarznegger shooting about and blowing things up are the norm in Hollywood.
Normally, there would be parental supervision restricting such activities. But in America, family ties are degenerating. Young adults often move out when they turn eighteen and live alone. Too many young parents are often too busy in their lives, and leave their children in daycares for much of the day. Parents in America are happier making money for living in bigger and better houses and driving fancier cars than raising their children themselves. They leave the raising of children to state run day centers or hired nannies. The latter are known to have employed child abusers, but we know only of cases that have been exposed to media. Older children (fourteen and above) are also left at home alone, and there, they frequently watch unrestricted TV. Having absent parents, and being in places that don’t provide adequate love, has a bad effect on children. This, combined with either watching violence on TV or simulating it in games can lead to the shaping up of people like James Holmes and Dylan Klebold.
The age ratio of shooters favors this theory in another way as well. Wade Michael Page grew up in the seventies. The Columbine shooters grew up in the eighties. Adam Lanza and James Holmes grew up in the 1990s. It is in the recent years that media violence has grown. It is one’s upbringing that can be the greatest influence on one’s life. Since those who are older nowadays did not grow up watching violence, they are less prone to shooting rampages, in contrast to younger people.
This is the main problem behind America’s tragedies. A shooting is a very serious event. One would have thought it would take years of determination to do such a thing. Yet, few older people do it. If young people do it, then it means something has been going on throughout their lives from childhood to the teen years that has shaped the mental makeup. Young people are responsible for most of the gun violence this year.
So if we address the state of childhood and growing up in this country, we may find a solution to the issue of gun violence that now occupies our mind so much.