“I just received my daughters backpack from the FBI,” grief-stricken mother Kimberley Garcia wrote this week. “With bullet holes on it. No parent should go thru this.”
Kimberley’s daughter Amerie Jo was just ten years old in June when she was shot and killed along with 18 other children and two teachers.
The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde shocked the world. Yet again.
“Laying here knowing I will never get to see my daughter again, kills me” her mother wrote on her social media. “Knowing my daughter was taken from me in such a evil way keeps me up at night, every night. I can’t stop telling her how sorry I am for leaving her at that school.”
But what drives children to carry out such malignant acts on other children? After the recent spate of school shootings in the US, researchers are beginning to examine what’s behind the warped fantasies of young assassins in a bid to prevent future tragedies.
Though still relatively rare in the bigger picture, such shootings have cast a dark shadow over a place intended to be a safe, enriching environment for children.
Guns are now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No other developed economy has as many violent firearm deaths as the U.S., according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
According to homeland security expert William Pelfry Jn,“school shootings happen in the U.S. at an alarming rate, but they rarely happen elsewhere in the world. Eighty or 90 percent of all the school shootings in the world happen in the U.S. They are concentrated there”.
Of course, the answer isn’t straightforward. There are obviously political overtones behind it. In the US, there are now more guns than people. In fact, the US has the highest civilian gun ownership rate in the world. Following the US on the list are war-torn countries like Serbia.
Social media has also helped normalise violence in am oblique way using words like “our country is under threat. We have to stand up and protect our country, our way of life”.
Often the reasons can be seeded back to extreme bullying, with a show of force demonstrating that the victim will never allow themselves to be bullied again. This is also known as so-called revenge attacks. There’s also elements of loner radicalisation when the perpetrator believes their actions represent a higher good.
Against this backdrop, it is also extremely easy to buy a gun in the US. It is extremely easy to buy an assault weapon. In fact, William Pelfy says that there is a huge gap in the reporting on who buys these weapons. “You go into a gun store and buy a gun.
A criminal background check is run, but no one keeps track of what you bought or how much you paid for it or what you do with it when you walk out the door. You could buy 20 assault rifles, drive to Washington, D.C., and sell them and nobody knows it because there is no reporting mechanism to identify that you sold”.
The issue will always be the two opposing paradigms. One is that everyone needs guns so that everyone will be safe. The other is the polar opposite. Nobody should have guns and we will all be safe.
It’s impossible for those to coexist.
Maybe it’s just too easy to point to mental health as the undercurrent for such atrocities that saw Amerie Jo lose her short life in such a violent way. Only a small percentage of these shootings were people diagnosed with a mental illness. It’s understandable to want to try and rationalise such a heinous act, but the fact is that it was guns that shot these people.