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God, Country, Notre Dame: A History of Recent Mass Shootings in the U.S.

You may feel like every time you log onto the internet, there’s a new tragic news story about a gunman and a school shooting. But I wonder, does tragic mean anything anymore? Have we heard about so many shootings in the last few years that we have become accustomed to it? Have we become acclimated to violence? Obama thinks so.

In his speech on the shooting, he said, “Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the aftermath of it.  We’ve become numb to this.”

“We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston.  It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun,” Obama said.

The sad thing is, do we even remember what happened at each of these individual shootings? Let me remind you. We need to remember

Columbine:

Columbine was a massacre that occurred in Jefferson County, not far from Denver, Colorado on April 20, 1999. Two high school seniors, Eric Harris and Dyan Klebold, murdered 12 students and 1 teacher. 21 others were injured, 3 while trying to escape. The plan included a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted to bombs placed in the cafeteria, 99 explosive devices and bombs rigged in cars. The killers wanted to rival the Oklahoma City bombing. They committed suicide and as of 2012, the time the massacre was reported as “the deadliest high school shooting in US history.”

 It was essentially a badly planned terrorist bombing, which was designed to kill hundreds of students by detonating bombs in the cafeteria during the busiest time of the day. They planned for their car bombs to detonate killing emergency personnel who came to help after the attack while they escaped to Mexico or potentially hijacked an aircraft and crashing it into a building in New York.  This was pre-9/11. Columbine is one of my earliest memories, because it was such a big news story. No one could have anticipated the huge number of school shootings that would follow in recent years. It sparked gun control debates.

You can read more about the victims here.

Blacksburg:

The Blacksburg shooting, better known as the Virginia Tech shooting or the Virginia Tech Massacre took place on April 16, 2007. A college senior named Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 17 others before committing suicide after his second attack. The two attacks were committed roughly two hours apart and 6 additional people were injured escaping from classroom windows.

According to MSNBC’s online archive, Wiki calls it, “the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history and one of the deadliest by a single gunman worldwide.” There have been deadlier shootings in U.S. history, but not by a single gunman and not on a school campus. The attack drew international media attention and sparked debate about gun laws and gaps in the system for treating mental illness.

You can read more about the victims here.

Tucson:

On January 8, 2011, 19 people including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords were shot by Jared Lee Loughnner during a constituent meeting in Casas Adobes in the Tucson metro area. The event was called “Congress on Your Corner.” 6 people died and 1 other person was injured. The death of a nine-year old girl names Christina Taylor Green was highly publicized after the attack.

Loughner was arrested by police at the scene of the attack. He pleaded guilty to 19 counts and was sentenced to life in prison on November 2012. The attack was highly politicized and once again gun control sparked national debate. There was a nationally televised memorial service led by President Obama on January 12, 2011.

You can read more about the victims here.

Newtown:

The Newtown shooting, better known as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter killed 20 children and 6 adult staff members. He also shot and killed his mother at their home before proceeding to the school. Lanza killed himself by committing suicide at the scene.

The incident is the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school and the second-deadliest mas shooting by a single gunman in U.S. History (after the Virginia Tech shooting). Gun control debates were renewed after the shooting.

You can read more about the victims here and here.

Aurora:

On July 20, 2012 James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience at a Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. 12 people were killed and 70 others were injured. It was the deadliest shooting in Colorado since Columbine.

Prior to the shooting Holmes rigged his apartment with homemade explosives, which a bomb squad defused a day after the attack. Security was increased at movie theatres across the country that were screening The Dark Knight Rises in hopes of preventing copy cat crimes. There was a spike in gun sales in Colorado after the attack and renewed gun control debates. On August 7, 2015 Holmes was sentenced to life in prison without parole. On August 26, 2015 Holmes was given 12 life sentences (one for every person he killed) and 3,318 years for the attempted murders of those who were wounded and for rigging his apartment with explosives.

You can read more about the victims here.

Oregon:

On Friday October 2, 2015, 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College. 9 people were killed and 7 or 9 others were injured. The shooter killed himself as police police approached; he was heavily armed with enough ammunition for a prolonged gunfight. He shot students in multiple classrooms and also killed a professor. It appears that he was specifically targeting Christians.

Chris Mintz, an Army veteran and student was shot as he tried to stop the shooter. He survived the shooting. Harper-Mercer left behind a manifesto with a student who was singled out as a “lucky one” to deliver to law enforcement. Once again, gun debates have been raised, especially in light of the upcoming primaries.

You can read more about the victims here.

A Call for Change:

Obama has issued a call for Americans to do more. “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple months from now,” said Obama. We must do more than just remember and talk about the tragedy. We must work for change.

 

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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

 

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Maria Fahs

Notre Dame

Maria is finishing her Masters in English at Notre Dame. She has read many good books and several bad books, but she usually tries not to finish those. Her current favorites are: 1984, The Book Thief, The Tragedy Paper, Code Name Verity, Dr. Copernicus, I Am the Messenger, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and of course, Harry Potter. She is writing her second thesis on Harry Potter, exploring notions of authorship and reader agency in the digital age. She even managed to write her Capstone on British Children's Literature and designed her own Directed Readings Course on Notre Dame history during undergrad. Her favorite way to read is with a mug of tea and scented candles. When she doesn't have her nose stuck in a book, she can be found binging on the BBC (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin [RIP]). Her favorite color is purple, she studied abroad in London, and she enjoys being an amateur painter. She harbors a not-so-secret dream of one day writing a children's book, but until then, she is likely to be found reading them and writing letters whenever she gets a chance. She hopes to teach English or work in a university sharing her love of education.
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