Opinion

School shootings are not and cannot be predictable

Four and a half months have now passed since the shootings at Virginia Tech, and eight years have gone by since Columbine. The former event is fading into history, and the latter is already there. Of course, there are and will be periodic calls for memorials, but the events themselves have already entered the history books and will not return unless prompted by another tragedy of equal ferocity. Fear is nascent now. The most visceral sorts of mistrust aroused by what we momentarily see as menace in each and every other human is gone, buried within our psyches. But it can return, and when another slaughter of our nation’s children is streamed through the televisions of Middle America, the fear will make itself known once again.

We try (and have tried) many methods to rid ourselves of that fear. A particular favorite, with regards specifically to the “school shootings,” is to commission a report detailing probable causes of the shooting. Whether those causes are related specifically to the disorders suffered by the shooter or to the environment in which the shooter was nurtured, the conclusion derived from them is always the same: “This tragedy could have been prevented if only step A was taken at time B with regards to person C.” Every shooting is labeled as something that was preventable and something that can be safeguarded against in the future.

This would indeed be a reassurance-and a productive way to stop the somewhat periodic killings that seem to occur in educational institutions today to boot-if it did not ignore the one constant among all of these events. All of the killings are. shootings. Those that died left this earth on the point of a bullet. If the killers had not clutched guns in their hands, there would have been no Columbine, no Paducah and no Virginia Tech.

Certainly it is true that there were other factors that contributed to these mass slayings, and perhaps those that want weapons badly enough would not be deterred from acquiring them by any legal measures, but is there any other way to reliably prevent that sort of violence? Each and every school shooting differs, so the precautions taken for one can not reliably be used in the event of another. As the state of Virginia’s report on the Virginia Tech shooting notes: “The panel researched reports of multiple shootings on campuses for the past 40 years, and no scenario was found in which the first murder was followed by a second elsewhere on campus.”

These events cannot be predicted. There is no way to prepare a campus or a school for those who will kill within it. The only reliable way to ensure that an occurrence like Virginia Tech’s is minimized is to take away the guns.

Andrew Hamner is a freshman majoring in journalism and may be contacted at a.hamner@umiami.edu.

September 10, 2007

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s the play Miami Hurricanes fans will never forget — and Florida State fans are trying to forget. ...

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

UM dining services team earns national recognition for special event catering. ...

From hammerheads to great whites, University of Miami researcher Neil Hammerschlag is a dedicated sp ...

An ACLU report authored by UM sociologists documents racial and ethnic disparities in Miami-Dade Cou ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

Miami senior Tyler Gauthier was named to the 2018 Fall Watch List for the Rimington Trophy presented ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.