Gun control versus gun rights. The debate rages on in the United States. However, there is a growing recognition that a multifaceted approach is required to protect citizens, especially children. This post and my book, Lethal Copycats, talks about some of the issues that are part of the current conversation about school safety.
America is finally getting serious about school safety. It took Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, Parkland, and countless other mass shootings for people to move beyond paralysis – thanks, in part to the outcries from school shooting survivors. Fueling the post-Parkland actions are the memories of witnesses and survivors. On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. According to a Vanity Fair article, Monsignor Robert Weiss, the first member of the clergy to arrive at the scene of the carnage, admitted to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of the tragedy. Five years later, on Valentine’s Day, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. One mourner expressed the grief of a nation: “My heart is broken into little pieces.” #NeverAgain, the “March for our Lives” rally, die-ins, protests, and a poignant song ('Shine': see YouTube video), became the anguished responses of teenagers-turned-activists who had enough of being members of the school shooting generation.
While it is true that more laws relaxing gun control have passed in the wake of Sandy Hook, the gun control movement appears to have gained traction since the Parkland massacre. What binds both sides together, is encapsulated in a quote from Nelson Mandela: “Any society that does not care for its children is no nation at all.” Implicit in that quote, is the knowledge that laws alone are not the ‘silver-bullet solutions’ that will eliminate mass school shootings. There are a range of crucial issues that people who are serious about school safety also need to address, including mental health, culture, family breakdown, culture and media.
I have chosen to look at the mental health/family breakdown/societal angles in my book, Lethal Copycats. It is a work of fiction, which tackles this hot-button topic from the vantage point of the shooter. A recent report of a highway sniper who idolized the Parkland gunman, Nikolas Cruz, underscores how these acts inspire others to also commit violence. My decision to use a teenage girl as the main character in this short story, came after reading an article about a post-Columbine copycat shooting planned by two teenage girls.
Please let me know what you think, either by writing an Amazon review of Lethal Copycats, dropping me a note after signing up using the contact form, or commenting on the Whizbuzz books site.