Firefighters, responding to a house fire in Webster, New York state, were fired upon, ultimately killing two and injuring at least two others. As houses were engulfed in flames, responding civil servants were clandestinely fired upon- forcing armored SWAT teams to evacuate citizens from surrounding homes.
These events come shortly after a shooting spree in Newtown, CT claimed the lives of 20 students. Only five short years from the second deadliest school shooting in American history, that left 33 students and faculty of Virginia Tech dead and 23 injured.
Shootings have become front-page news for headline media sources across the globe; crossfire claiming youth, school massacres, movie theater assaults, car trunk snipers, and shopping mall sprees. Quickly politicized as a tool of leverage to debate issues of gun control, claiming undeniably these tragedies simply could not have occurred were the weapons not available. Supporters of firearms will take the counter offensive that the only defense from an armed assailant is a well-armed populace. While it is true: without guns shootings like Blacksburg, VA, Aurora, CO, Newtown, CT and even Columbine may not have been possible; but the dye is cast. Guns exist, and they cannot be taken back.
Stricter gun control may have stopped legal gun purchases such as the Aurora shooter, but ultimately only legal gun owners obey these laws. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country; made arena to the second worst school massacre in modern history. Perpetrators of these crimes have a far less expensive, strenuous exercise acquiring the weapons to commit their crimes. The argument turns to assault rifles; a question of caliber and rate of fire rather than the function of the tool. Ultimately, however spree killers and school massacres are not a modern phenomenon. School shootings date as far back as Greencastle, Pennsylvania in 1764- wherein four assailants attacked a school killing ten students and their schoolmaster. Dozens of similar shootings litter the world’s history books. Throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s there are records of mass murders taking place at campuses all over the planet, including the infamous (and deadliest) Bath school massacre of 1927 that claimed the lives of 38 people by dynamite, only one shot was fired, to detonate the explosives.
In addition, on the same day as the shooting in Newtown, a man in China attacked a primary school in China’s Henan province, armed with a knife. 23 were injured in the attack. The point can be made that the victims were injured rather than killed as in Newtown, but that doesn’t mean attacks committed without the help of a gun do not bear fatalities. In 2006, Bai Ningyang killed 12, and injured 5 kindergarten students by arson. Corralling the students into a second floor classroom before dousing the entranceway and floor with gasoline and igniting it. Israel 1992, Raed Muhammed al-Rifi murdered two and injured 19. In July of 2008, Vince Li attacked, beheaded and ultimately cannibalized the body of Tim McLean on a Canadian Greyhound bus. Terrorizing the passengers of the bus for several hours before capture from the RCP. No guns were used; guns are not required for homicide.
So, an observation: throughout human history people have killed people. We have burned, shot, stabbed, stoned, drowned, gassed, hung, crucified and buried more souls than even modern media outlets could possibly report.
What has changed? First and foremost, we have stunning levels of communication. We live in a world where news is instantly available in computer simulation, video, photo, and print at the point of impact. During a catastrophe, anyone with an Internet connection can not only know in forensic detail what has transpired, they can watch it unfold, in high definition. We can see the stage as it plays out. Gone are the days of the news reporting objectively once the facts have been determined; we have editorials feeding dozens of opinions, and observations actively, from press nests on scene.
We can also see the face of the perpetrator. Images poached from social media sources-framed, replayed transposing a troubled mind into an archetypal, true-to-life comic book villain. Motivations pontificated and televised before verification. Meandering, self-observational diaries become manifestos, and the ramblings of a mind that desperately needs help finally gets attention, is studied, examined, and discussed.
Secondly: statistically, in the western world we live in a safer society than any of our predecessors. We are better cared for, maintained, and protected than any democratic nation in history. Conversely, insurance companies have had such a poor track record for maintaining mental health and addiction treatment, congress was forced to mandate against discrimination towards those seeking medical attention for mental health issues in 2008. Health care premiums have increased 4-9% annually, greatly outpacing inflation. Dental Insurance alone, on average, has not changed maximum annual payouts since implementation in 1960.
So, the best fed, clothed, and entertained nation in the world is suffering recessions, inflations, and record unemployment shifts while still surviving the medical allowance of a citizen from 1960 to pay for health coverage that costs on average 4% more year over year. A monetary allocation built upon the medical knowledge of a civilization before the Internet, before modern studies, pharmacological research, and cross continental communication of medical communities.
When an author writes a bad book, we don’t consider outlawing pens; and its much easier to see an angst ridden teen in a black trench coat, armed with an AR-15 as the villain, than an insurance executive awarded multi-million dollar stock options annually for lowering operational costs. Operational costs that translate to treating very sick people that desperately need help.