Ap Governments And Politics Criminology Essay

Published: 2021-06-25 22:05:04
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Madeline McCloskey
Etheridge, L
AP Government and Politics
School shootings have mortified and interested people for years. The biggest question on everyone’s mind is always "why"? Why did the killer or killers do what they did, or what made them become such vicious people? Each school shooting was triggered by different reasons; most of the time they’re provoked by bullying, revenge or even mental illness. For some school shootings, the motive is never quite found out or understood. It is sad to say that for each reason behind a potential attack there are examples of school shootings that have happened previously. Each example is sad and affects not only the families of the wounded or killed, but the whole town, state or country. We may never understand what the killers did or what was so wrong in their lives that they had to take other people’s lives, but we can find a way to stop them. The government can stop future school shootings through safety measures in schools throughout the nation, through gun control, and through the monitoring of mental health.
People have heard a lot about school shootings, but what is the definition of a school shooting? "A school shooting is an incident in which gun violence occurs at an educational institution" ("School Shooting"). There are a few infamous school shootings that have happened in the past years. There was the Columbine High School shooting of 1999, the Virginia Tech Shooting of 2007, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012. All of these shootings have a few things in common. They were all triggered by something whether it was a bully or mental illness, and guns were their "weapon of choice". There may have been gun laws in place during the school shootings; however these were not strict enough to stop the future killers from doing what they did. Now after these shootings have happened and innocent men and women and even children have died, the government has opened their eyes to the serious problem that is guns. It is not too late to enact a gun law that can stop future school shootings from happened. However, is everyone going to be pleased with the gun law?
The date is April 20, 1999, and the high school kids in Littleton, Colorado are going to Columbine High School just as they would any day. However, this day would change how people view guns and violence forever. At 11:14 in the morning the two killers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, took their propane bombs and set them off in the cafeteria. When that failed, they resorted to firing their back-up weapons, guns. From the beginning, their plan was to set up bombs, killing students by the hundreds. When their homemade bombs didn’t go off they hoped they resorted to their second plan, which was to kill any student that got in their way. They both had back up weapons. For Dylan, it was a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun and a 12-gauge double-barrel. For Eric it was a 9-mm carbine rile and a 12-gauge pump sawed-off shotgun. They continued with their rampage, going around Columbine High School shooting students for the next 45 minutes. They killed 12 students and a teacher, and many more were injured.
The motive of the school shooting was always speculated. Some believed that it was because of violent video games, bullying, that they had some kind of hit list, or that they were apart of group called the "The Trench Coat Mafia". Although many people believed that those were the reasons why they did what they did, they were not true. Through the hard work of psychologist and psychiatrists they have figured out what the true motive was for the killing. They believe that Eric Harris was a psychopath that wanted nothing more but to live the experience of killing people. Dylan Klebold was very depressed and wanted nothing more but to die. Together they made a team of killers. Together they wanted nothing more than to blow up the school. However because it didn’t they resorted to guns. "Harris and Klebold would have been dismayed that Columbine was dubbed the ‘worst school shooting in American history’" (Cullen). Both Eric and Dylan were on a path of destruction. Dylan, down the road would have been okay. He would have lived a normal life. However he was fueled and attracted to Eric’s talk about killing and blowing up the school. He found that Eric was the only one who truly knew him. While some thought of them as normal people, they were anything but normal. The police said after the shooting happened that:
"Harris and Klebold seemed to have lived two lives. Their friends and family described them as normal teenage boys. Others described them as outcasts. But they left behind evidence of a much darker and sinister side. This darker side was an aspect they apparently shared only with each other….." (TornFromTheMap)
Eight years after the Columbine High School shooting, the deadliest school shooting will happen, leaving thirty dead and thirty others injured.
Seung-Hui Cho was born in South Korea. At the age of eight he and his family moved to the United States. He was bullied as a child, by students and even people at his church. He was below average in most categories: physically, emotional, and socially. He was however a bright man, who had potential to become something in the future. However, the future was not what he was worried about. He was bothered by all of the bullies and the rich kids who were "taking from their affluent parents and squandering their money on luxuries and alcohol" (Nizza).
It all started with a 911 call from a resident in the West Ambler Johnston Resident Hall on April 16, 2007. Killed and shot were a man and a woman. The police didn’t think any more of it other than it being a double homicide. They would try to find out more as the day went on from possible witnesses. The police thought that was the end, however, that wasn’t even close to the end. Although news of the killings was traveling fast around campus, students still resumed normal schedules and went to class. Emails were sent by the campus police informing every one of the murders. The killings didn’t stop there. The killer then went to Norris Hall and in the process the doors were locked. "The police finally gained access to the building at 9:51 by shooting the lock out of the door to a machine shop" (Brezina) The police wasted no time, and broke into Norris Hall rushing upstairs. As they were running they were also hearing gunshots from upstairs, but by the time they had gotten up there the "gunman" had shot himself. The killer had used a .22-caliber pistol and a semiautomatic handgun to shoot both himself and the victims. After the shooting it was later announced that 33 people had been killed, the gunman included. The gun man was Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech. His motive was bullying. He was a victim of bullying and torment every day. After many years of dealing with it he was finally pushed to his breaking point. The only way to stop it was to go on a shooting rampage. He says in a video he filmed before the shooting that "I didn’t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled, but no, I no longer run."(Babylon616). Later in the video he described the people who did this to him; saying that they had everything, and yet they had to torment him every day. At this point in time, school shootings were occurring more and more throughout the United States, and something needed to be changed in order to make the shootings come to an end.
Carrying three guns-a rifle, a Glock Handgun, and a Sig-Sauer handgun, Adam Lanza made his way to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Before heading over to Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza killed his mother in their own home. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is the most recent and horrific school shooting that has taken place. At about 9:30 Adam Lanza got to the school. The doors were locked, so he broke his way into the school. After breaking into the school he made his way down the hallway and into one of the classrooms. He then proceeded to shoot and kill 14 students. After he was done in that classroom he moved on to the next classroom. In this classroom he shot and killed one teacher and six students. About twenty minutes into his shooting the police arrived. They surrounded the school. This made Adam panic. He knew that he wasn’t going to survive, or maybe he didn’t want to, so he shot himself in the head with one of the guns that he was carrying. At the end of the shooting a total of six adults and twenty students were killed. The country was shocked and in awe of what had happened in Newtown, Connecticut. No one could believe that a person could murder twenty children. Many things were questioned after that day on December 14, 2012. People were wondering what Adam’s motive behind the shooting was, and many questioned his mental state.
Those who questioned his mental state would be correct; Adam Lanza did have a mental illness. Some speculate that he had Asperger’s. Asperger’s is a disease that is a disorder on the autism spectrum. Although a person with Asperger’s can manage in the real world, it comes with symptoms that will affect someone who has the disease’s everyday life. Some of the symptoms include social problems, movements that may be odd or repetitive, and having a hard time communicating, just to name a few. Looking back at him in high school Matt Baier said he "recalled how deeply uncomfortable Mr. Lanza was in social situations." (Halbfinger) He was seen as shy to everyone and a quiet kid that no one really talked to. Even though it is speculation, he had all the symptoms of Asperger’s. Although there are people in the world who have Asperger’s and they don’t go on school shooting sprees. There had to be something that was drove him to do the shooting. So what was Adam Lanza’s reason behind killing all those innocent children? One theory is that he wanted to out-kill the shooter in Norway. He had a goal when he went into the Sandy Hook Elementary school that December morning, and it was to out shoot the shooter who killed seventy-seven and injured many more. "Lanza saw himself as a competitor to Anders Breivik, the deranged Norwegian man who killed 77 people in a series of attacks in 2011, in a sick imagined mass-murder contest." (Edelman ) Another theory is that he was "mimicking a gory game scene" (Edelman) sitting in his room for hours playing video games instead of hanging out with friends or socializing. Whatever his motive was for the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting was, he was emotionally unstable person who snapped and left innocent children dead.
There were many different types of guns used in the different school shootings. We know what type of guns they are but how did they get them? For the Columbine High School shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, it was through the help of a friend. Robyn Anderson was good friends with Eric and Dylan, but she would have no idea what she was getting herself into when she bought the guns for them at a gun show. Anderson "bought the shotguns and the Hi-Point 9mm Carbine at The Tanner Gun Show in December of 1998 from unlicensed sellers." (Guns?) The other gun they bought was a TEC-DC9, which they bought from a co-worker for $500 dollars. The co-worker knew that they were underage, but even knowing that he still sold the gun to them. If they had not had those guns bought for them, then that April in 1999 would have been a completely different day for the High School students of Columbine. Without the guns, all they would have had for weapons were the bombs, and because the bombs didn’t go off they had to resort to their guns. So essentially no one would have been killed without the guns. However, with them being as dangerous and out of control as they were, they would have found another way to accumulate guns for the shooting. However, they did get the guns, and for them it was easy. All they had to do was reach out to people who could get them guns and trusted them. If two young teenage boys can get firearms that easily, then what is stopping anyone from going out and getting guns?
For the Virginia Tech Shooter it was just as easy, if not easier. All he had to do was literally go out and buy guns. Seung-Hui Cho went to the Roanoke Firearms store. Then he proceeded with picking out one of the guns, at that point in time he probably knew exactly which gun he wanted to buy, because he had been planning the attack for weeks, may be even months. All he had to do next was prove that he was a legal citizen of the US by showing his green card. That was all he had to do, it was that easy. He then paid and walked out of the door without being asked any questions. Why were there no questions? No questions were asked because he and his purchase weren’t suspicious looking enough. "He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won’t sell a gun if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious." (‘unremarkable sale’). What does someone or someone’s purchase have to look like in order for questions to be raised about them or their sale? To buy a gun really all you have to be is a legal citizen over the age of 18 and not have any felonies. That’s exactly what he was, and because he was able to go out and buy guns that easily he kill thirty-three people. It doesn’t stop there because not only did Cho have a couple guns, he also had high-capacity magazines. These magazines may have contained about thirty-three rounds per clip. In 2004 it was illegal to have that many rounds per magazine because there was a ban on weapons; this ban minimized the number of rounds per clip to be 10. However this ban ended and when the ban was lifted or expired it was legal to have thirty-three rounds per magazine. Not only did Cho have guns, but their danger level was heightened when he was able to maximize the number of rounds per magazine. He was able to kill and injure more people this way, which is why the death toll is so high. "These killings can’t be done with baseball bats and knives" (‘unremarkable sale’)
The other three shooters had to go out and buy their guns, but Adam Lanza had them right in his house. "Three weapons found at the scene of the shooting were legally purchased by Nancy Lanza" (Fantz) He was a socially awkward kid, he had a form of autism that handicapped him socially. So his mother tried to put him in social situations, tried so hard for him to warm up to other people. She wanted him to fit in. She took him with her to the gun range where she enjoyed shooting guns. Then when she noticed that he enjoyed the gun range, she took him back there again and again. It became a hobby for him. Adam Lanza’s mother collected guns keeping them locked in the basement. Although she was responsible for taking care of her guns, she may have been too trusting with her son. On the day of the shooting the guns had been in the gun case, except for instead of the gun case being locked it was unlocked. Because of this shooting people were really beginning to question whether they were truly safe with all of the guns and no gun laws.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting there were major debates on whether there should be a gun control bill passed. There are two sides of the argument. One side of the argument are people who believe that there should be a gun law passed and that it will help stop future school shootings and shootings that involve guns. The other side of the argument contains people that believe that a gun law will not stop people from getting a gun and shooting people. They believe that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. There are many people on both sides of the argument. The whole nation, especially President Obama is involved in the debate.
If there was a better person to enforce the gun control law it would be President Obama. In fact he already has a plan to minimize the violence that guns are bringing to the world. He "proposed background checks on all gun sales and bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of a package to reduce gun violence" (Bash) We do not want guns to be placed in the hands of the wrong person. "Guns are tools in the right hands and deadly instruments in the wrong." (Cefrey) This plan will help keep America and Americans safe from future gun violence, and he believes that this is the first step in making that happen. He also believes that there is a balance between having safety around the US and not taking away the Second Amendment from everyone. People have to realize that in order for gun violence and all the shooting to stop there has to be a change in the way we look and act about guns. The US should be stricter in how they sell guns. There are laws currently in place that help with that, but obviously they either aren’t being enforced or they aren’t strict enough. However, there are many months or even years between our high gun violence that we have and no gun violence. If the gun control law was enforced, people would realize that the government is trying to protect the nation.
There are just as many people on the opposed side of the gun control debate as the favored side. People on the opposed side say that a gun control law would be against the Second Amendment. They believe and are right when they say that everyone has the right to carry a weapon no matter who they are or what the circumstance is. If there was a gun control law in place they would be taking that right away. They want the knowledge that if anything happened to them, they would be safe because they have in their possession or are carrying a gun. When people think of danger, they think that a gun can help protect them. The current gun law that exists must be enforced in order for them to have any effect on gun control. In fact more people are killed by car accidents due to drunk driving and speeding than guns.
Columbine, Virginia Tech, and the Sandy Hook shootings are just three school shootings of hundreds that have happened in the past, and they will continue to happen if nothing is done about guns. Gun Control doesn’t have to cripple the people of America; they should look at it as a blanket of safety that will one day help them when they find themselves in a dangerous situation. However, no matter what will happen or what has happened, there will always be a constant debate about whether there should be a gun control law or not. We have to remember though that guns are not toys, and if people treat them like that then someone one will get hurt. The nation fears that if we keep treating guns like we do presently than there could be more school shootings, which means more death and tragedy for the nation. The government must do something about guns, and a gun control law will at least help with that.

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