The Shootings

I don’t really have a lot to say about the Friday shootings in Newtown, Conn., other than to say how very sorry I am. Of course this is unhelpful.

I do have a few scattered thoughts on the subject, however.

1. People started looking at gun control issues almost immediately. This may or may not be helpful; I don’t know and take no position on it. However, I do wonder why so little talk about mental health issues is occurring.

2. People need to be wary about oversimplifying this problem. It is large and complex, and solutions are not likely to be simple, easy or cheap.

3. People forget the past very quickly. Whatever efforts toward solutions and preventions are made, they should recall that school violence is not a new thing. The horrors of Newtown are fresh in our minds; the memories of Columbine have not yet faded. But please, in the rush to find reasons and solutions, do not forget earlier victims. Remember that school violence takes many forms.

Remember Newtown, remember Columbine, remember Virginia Tech, yes, but also remember Bath, and the 45 people who were killed there.

They were killed by bombs, placed in their school with fiendish deliberation over a period of months by a member of the school board–not recently, but in 1927.

First, the killer detonated bombs at his own farm, so that rescuers would be far away. Then, he blew up most of the school–though as it turns out, one wing was spared because the bombs in it failed to go off. Finally, he filled his truck full of shrapnel and drove to the school to blow it up, slaying some of the adults desperately trying to rescue children from the wreckage of the building.

School violence takes many forms, has many causes, and perpetrators include the young and old. Most are men, but yes, there are women as well. Some have been students or school officials (like the Bath bomber), but others were not. Some have used bombs, some have used guns; some have used both or neither.

It is always horrifying.