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Why does America have more school shootings than other countries?

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The rest of the world has them occur, but rarely: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunblane_Massacre - dunblane massacre, scotland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Pius_X_High_School_massacre , Canada http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valery_Fabrikant , Canada School massacres like these tend to be statistical outliers. They are exceptionally rare, and very difficult to draw conclusions from. A student is far more likely to die from alcohol poisioning (I believe it's 2 or 3,000 alcohol-related deaths each year in the US) than from a gun. You're going to hear the talking heads bloviating about an American Culture of Violence (although the attacker was from overseas), how gun control is a failure (the guns were bought legally and students should have been armed and able to shoot him) and how gun control is transcendentally important. Arguing from a rare event like this to drive public policy is the same as developing policy by anecdote. more
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Canada definitely has a lot less gun crime, but we have had some high-profile school/campus shootings: campuses still have memorials for the shootings at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1989; there was a school shooting in Taber, Alberta a few months after Columbine; last year there was a shooting at Dawson College also in Montreal; apparently there was ALSO a shooting at Concordia University in Montreal in 1992. It's not as many, but when you consider we have a tenth of the population, it's still more than Michael Moore might lead you to believe. That's not really an answer; I don't know if anyone can tell you why North America* seems to produce more of this particular kind of crime -- there are social and cultural factors (and I don't think it's as simple as being "a childish and uncivilized culture"), but it's all kind of armchair stuff, because we can't really know. more
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Well, although I mostly agree with ijsbrand, I think there is an element of fashion at play here as well. People may just start doing shooting sprees because that's what other people did and it got them enough fame/infamy and attention. In the UK, you have football hooligans. In France, you had car burnings. In Germany you have neo-Nazis. In my home country (Greece) we got "student demonstrations" with 25-year olds that burn down university buildings. At the end of the day, I think all of these are just exercises in frustration, and these kids channel them in the way that's feasible (no guns freely available in mainland Europe) and fashionable (so that they know it will get them at least some positive attention). For the US shootings though, I think there's also a mental health factor. The VT shooter and the Columbine shooters before him had clear mental health issues, and their support system (family, school) did not address them. more
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Last night I went to see The Killer Within which is a documentary about one of the origainl school shooters, Bob Bechtel, who shot up a Swarthmore College dorm in the 1950s. The movie featured a Princeton sociology professor Katherine Newman who has a book called, Rampage, the Social Roots of School Shootings, which might shed some light on your question. In the movie her ideas came across as totally spot on and rock solid, I could paraphrase them but a summary of the book would probably do more justice. more
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Exactly. If it wasn't school shootings, it would be bus stop knifings, or whatever was played up in the media. I don't think so. A firearm provides a unique brand of superiority and dominance not really found elsewhere. These loner kids are not going to go out and try and physically assault people - they just can't. You can't blow off steam running around knifing people or hitting them with a baseball bat, you'd get tired for a start, and the first person bigger than you would stop you in your tracks. As soon as someone clicked to what you were doing you'd be wrestled to the ground and arrested in no time. A gun is different. I have no experience at all with firearms but they clearly make people feel invincible and that must be attracive to this type of downtrodden kid. You are untouchable to individuals of any size, groups of people, adults, and to a certain extent even the police. Albeit for a short time only. more
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It seems like Canada has had more school shootings recently, and definitely more per capita (but if you subtract Montreal from that, it may no longer be the case). more
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Belgian public television had the fine taste to show "Bowling for Columbine" yesterday evening. It deals with questions like yours, without giving any clear answers. In Canada or Swiss even more people own guns than in the States. As much as I dislike to stereotype a culture - I am a historian - there is something childish and uncivilized in American culture. This is not just a bad thing, it makes the country very entrepreneurial - people just want to pursuit the American dream. Yet, that same childlike enthusiasm and energy can becomes a ravaging force in frustration. Meanwhile, for some reasons that macho and testosteron driven part of American culture, as portrayed in movies and video games, exports suprisingly well as a role model. There was a school shooting in Germany, in Erfurt, where 18 people get killed in 2002. And even Dutch teachers cannot be sure anymore that pupils won't mean it when they treaten to kill. more
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Take a look at Loren Coleman's blog on school shootings. He blames the media causing a copycat effect, and in the link I provided there, posted in March, posits that we'd see more violent copycat killings in schools, this Spring, and that it would be perpetrated by 'outsiders' rather than the caucasion males we've seen in the past. He seems to have hit it right on the button, so I am willing to put some stock in that the media's hyping of the events is helpign to create a copycat effect. more
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The Monash University shooting aside, in Australia it is very hard for a minor to get hold of a gun. By law all weapons must be stored in a very secure locked box with firing components separate, which makes it hard to take Dad's rifle to school. Even if you did, all weapons have small magazines (5 shot max from memory) that makes a mass shooting impractical. There is next to no possibility of acquiring a gun oneself as a minor, the expense is high and even higher for an illegal weapon. Even an adult must first undergo a training programme in gun safety before a license is issued, and the license itself is $200 for 5 years. Add to this you need a "genuine" reason to apply for a license like belonging to a target club or having written permission from a rural land holder to hunt on their property. Consequently, gun ownership across the board has dropped greatly. When I was a lad it was quite common for Aussie kids to have an air rifle or even a . more
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The source may be that in American culture of late it is politically incorrect to label anyone as disturbed, and in need of help. Everyone is so afraid of litigation that teachers and other caregivers, heck even the police in some cases won't be the one to say "this kid/person is dangerous and needs to be institutionalized before he hurts hismelf or someone else." If as in the V.T. case someone does point out potential problems he is often un-supported by the 'authorities' because of privacy issues and that threat of litigation. more
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