In a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school this morning,
27 26 innocent people, 18 20 of them children, were shot and killed. An unknown number were wounded. Apparently there were two adult shooters, one
of which is dead and a manhunt is on for a second shooter.
This was a most horrible and cowardly act. It was not the first mass murder of school children nor was it the worst to have happened in the history of this country. There have actually been 128 school shootings/bombings recorded in the past 150 years.
On May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan a disgruntled school board treasurer set off 3 bombs in the Bath Elementary School. There were 45 people killed, including the bomber himself. At least 58 people were injured and 38 of the dead were elementary school children. This was the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.
The Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, was the second largest school shooting with 32 killed and 17 wounded. It is the deadliest shooting incident by a SINGLE shooter in U.S. history. The Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado involved 2 shooters who killed 12 students and 1 teacher. An additional 21 students were wounded.
The best records of school-involved killings worldwide show that 77 such incidents have taken place since the year 1966. Of these 77 school murders, three-quarters (58) of them have taken place in the U.S. The weapons of choice most often (approximately 75% of the time) have been semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons. Revolvers and shotguns makeup the remaining approximately 25%.
The killings are not limited to our schools. But, hopefully, today’s tragedy will give one pause to think about how the US has become such a shooting gallery. Why are Americans so quick to pull the trigger on fellow Americans? If this question could be answered, perhaps a solution could be found.
The United States does not have the worst homicide rate in the world, far from it actually. However, if one only considers the “first world” countries, which we tend to regard as modern and civilized, the US homicide rate is 3 to 4 times that of the other “first world" countries. Here are some examples as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):
Homicides per 100,000 population from 1960 to present: