newtown shooting


61 in 30 years: A timeline of mass shootings in America
December 15, 2012

On Friday morning, 27 people were reportedly shot and killed  at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT. According to sources, 18 of these casualties were children. This is the second mass shooting in the US this week, after a gunmanopened fire  in an Oregon shopping mall on Tuesday, killing 2. ABC News reports that there have been 31 school shootings in the US since Columbine in 1999, when 13 people were killed.

The rate of people killed by guns in the US is  19.5 times higher  than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders . Below is a timeline of mass shootings in the US since the Columbine High massacre:

  • December 11, 2012. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts  killed 2 people and himself with a stolen rifle in Clackamas Town Center, Oregon. His motive is unknown.
  • September 27, 2012. Five were  shot to death  by 36-year-old Andrew Engeldinger at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, MN. Three others were wounded. Engeldinger went on a rampage after losing his job, ultimately killing himself.
  • August 5, 2012. Six Sikh temple members were killed  when 40-year-old US Army veteran Wade Michael Page opened fire in a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Four others were injured, and Page killed himself.
  • July 20, 2012. During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO, 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people  and wounded 58. Holmes was arrested outside the theater.
  • May 29, 2012. Ian Stawicki opened fire  on Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle, WA, killing 5 and himself after a citywide manhunt.
  • April 6, 2012. Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, shot 5 black men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in racially motivated shooting spree. Three died.
  • April 2, 2012. A former student, 43-year-old One L. Goh killed 7 people  at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college in Oakland, CA. The shooting was the sixth-deadliest school massacre in the US and the deadliest attack on a school since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
  • October 14, 2011. Eight people died in a shooting at Salon Meritage  hair salon in Seal Beach, CA. The gunman, 41-year-old Scott Evans Dekraai, killed six women and two men dead, while just one woman survived. It was Orange County’s deadliest mass killing.
  • September 6, 2011. Eduardo Sencion, 32, entered an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, NV and shot 12 people. Five died, including three National Guard members.
  • January 8, 2011. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head  when 22-year-old Jared Loughner opened fire on an event she was holding at a Safeway market in Tucson, AZ. Six people died, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll, one of Giffords’ staffers, and a 9-year-old girl. 19 total were shot. Loughner has been sentenced to seven life terms plus 140 years, without parole.
  • August 3, 2010. Omar S. Thornton, 34, gunned down  Hartford Beer Distributor in Manchester, CT after getting caught stealing beer. Nine were killed, including Thornton, and two were injured.
  • November 5, 2009. Forty-three people were shot  by Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan at the Fort Hood army base in Texas. Hasan reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire, killing 13 and wounding 29 others.
  • April 3, 2009. Jiverly Wong, 41, opened fire  at an immigration center in Binghamton, New York before committing suicide. He killed 13 people and wounded 4.
  • March 29, 2009. Eight people died in a shooting  at the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home in Carthage, NC. The gunman, 45-year-old Robert Stewart, was targeting his estranged wife who worked at the home and survived. Stewart was sentenced to life in prison.
  • February 14, 2008. Steven Kazmierczak, 27,  opened fire  in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University, killing 6 and wounding 21. The gunman shot and killed himself before police arrived. It was the fifth-deadliest university shooting in US history.
  • February 7, 2008. Six people died and two were injured in a  shooting spree  at the City Hall in Kirkwood, Missouri. The gunman, Charles Lee Thornton, opened fire during a public meeting after being denied construction contracts he believed he deserved. Thornton was killed by police.
  • December 5, 2007. A 19-year-old boy, Robert Hawkins,  shot up  a department store in the Westroads Mall in Omaha, NE. Hawkins killed 9 people and wounded 4 before killing himself. The semi-automatic rifle he used was stolen from his stepfather’s house.
  • April 16, 2007. Virginia Tech became the site of the  deadliest school shooting  in US history when a student, Seung-Hui Choi, gunned down 56 people. Thirty-two people died in the massacre.
  • February 12, 2007. In Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square Mall, 5 people were  shot to death  and 4 others were wounded by 18-year-old gunman Sulejman Talović. One of the victims was a 16-year-old boy.
  • October 2, 2006. An Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster, PA was  gunned down  by 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts, Roberts separated the boys from the girls, binding and shooting the girls. 5 young girls died, while 6 were injured. Roberts committed suicide afterward.
  • March 25, 2006. Seven died and 2 were injured by 28-year-old Kyle Aaron Huff in a shooting spree  through Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA. The massacre was the worst killing in Seattle since 1983.
  • March 21, 2005. Teenager Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend before  opening fire  on Red Lake Senior High School, killing 9 people on campus and injuring 5. Weise killed himself.
  • March 12, 2005. A Living Church of God meeting was  gunned down  by 44-year-old church member Terry Michael Ratzmann at a Sheraton hotel in Brookfield, WI. Ratzmann was thought to have had religious motivations, and killed himself after executing the pastor, the pastor’s 16-year-old son, and 7 others. Four were wounded.
  • July 8, 2003. Doug Williams, a Lockheed Martin employee,  shot up  his plant in Meridian, MI in a racially-motivated rampage. He shot 14 people, most of them African American, and killed 7.
  • September 15, 1999. Larry Gene Ashbrook  opened fire  on a Christian rock concert and teen prayer rally at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX. He killed 7 people and wounded 7 others, almost all teenagers. Ashbrook committed suicide.
  • July 29, 1999. Mark Orrin Barton, 44,  murdered his wife and two children with a hammer before shooting up two Atlanta day trading firms. Barton, a day trader, was believed to be motivated by huge monetary losses. He killed 12 including his family and injured 13 before killing himself.
  • April 20, 1999. In the deadliest high school shooting in US history, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Kiebold  shot up Columbine High School  in Littleton, CO. They killed 13 people and wounded 21 others. They killed themselves after the massacre.
Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A four-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday. Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year – violence that we cannot accept as routine.
—  President Obama, announcing an initiative to study and push for new gun control measures today at the White House.

[Guns used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Shooting]

“All 26 of Lanza’s victims were shot with the [Bushmaster] .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle.”
- Connecticut State Police Lt. J Paul Vance

See also: Adam Lanza’s prescription antidepressant

Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, at the age of 10 created a horrifying book filled with violence and descriptions of hurting children , which he reportedly created with another boy in his class (who’s name is covered), but the book was never turned in. It was called ‘’The Big Book of Granny’’. The book reportedly has several sections — one with granny jokes and another that describes ‘’granny action figures’’ — and some of them were especially disturbing.                                  

A section in the book titled “Granny’s Clubhouse of Happy Children” contains dialogue for an imaginary TV show that features Granny and her son Bobolicious where the show has a violent theme. In another section of the book labeled “Adventures of Granny,” Granny and her son rob and blow up a bank, and afterwards the son shoots Granny in the head with a shotgun.  

In another story from the “Adventures of Granny” section, Granny is violent toward a young boy. Another tale features a character called “Dora the Beserker” who talks about how she likes to hurt children , and many more disturbing stories.

White Male Terrorist Violence, White Supremacy and The Media

In regards to Sandy Hook and all of the other recent White male terrorist-lead mass murders, many of the conversations among people of colour have been about the media narratives used to reinforce White supremacy when White men commit terrorist acts. I’ve seen memes that compare how overly kind and respectful the media has been towards Adam Lanza’s memory and he was a White male terrorist, versus Trayvon Martin, a Black male victim. There’s no need to compare how White male criminals’ media narratives are shaped versus Black male criminals. That’s beyond obvious. Black men, innocent or guilty, honest citizen or criminal have been demonized for centuries (and the dehumanization adapted as the technology did. Think Birth of a Nation. Now think of 24-hour news, print media, social media, local news, government policy etc.) No need to travel down that obvious road.

Seeing the visual memes that compare Lanza’s media versus Martin’s are traumatic for me. I understand the point that some people of colour are trying to make; I just…can’t even view them for too long. Hurts bad. The level of utter disregard and disdain for Black life in America is reinforced by both the government, the right arm of oppression and the media/Hollywood, the left arm of oppression. Citizens stand in the middle with surveys revealing how more than half of Whites have negative opinions of Black people, how Whites were angry over any Trayvon coverage, not nuanced views of that coverage–that it was primarily negative and bigoted, what many Black people were angry about, and their one-by-one attacks on Black people by hyper-vigilant White males and the police. Black people suffering with poverty and internalized White supremacy become our own executioners as well.

Because of the disgustingly bigoted history and present in this country, I expect the massive discrepancy in media coverage and what motivates legislative talk, when it comes to race. Black/other people of colour (and even some White people) who know nothing about critical race theory, don’t critique media, don’t pay any attention to any of this can SEE this now. This is how obvious White supremacy has become. No critical analysis needed. (This is good, in context. Conversations must go beyond the academic world.) It is so BLATANT and obvious that random joes on the streets…literally…start conversations with me about White supremacy and media, even if they don’t use the “academic” terms (which are not needed anyway. Academia is not needed to validate their truthful observations and how it impacts their lives.) It’s sickeningly obvious. This country is ILL. (The first time I noticed random people discussing media bigotry was the Olympics. It was so blatant that even those who either aren’t aware or pretend racism/sexism doesn’t exist could pretend no longer.)

However, what has become (disgustingly) fascinating is the media framing of Lanza and these White victims. Again, I’m fully aware of the hatred and disdain for Black life and existence in America. However, I did not expect to see Lanza held at the esteem level of the White victims. The White victims. I noticed this with Aurora as well. And the Penn State abuse case till the very end. And previous shootings. (Other than the “othering” done to these men via mental illness labeling, barely a harsh word is uttered about them.) And then, I re-realized something important. White supremacy itself is more important than any individual life, even a White one. (i.e. individual White soldiers die to uphold American imperialism, white supremacy and xenophobia.) To truly critique Lanza for what he did and the CONNECTION to White supremacy and patriarchy is to literally shoot darts into the theory of White supremacy. Protecting this is more important than even 20 innocent young White lives gone. This is the sickness of White supremacy. In its hierarchical nature, sure, individual White lives matter more than individual Black ones. Black mothers sadly know this oh too well. They’ve buried too many children. But White supremacy itself must be protected above individual White lives? This is what both the government and the media no longer covertly insinuates but actively proselytizes now…through euphemisms (as George Carlin reminded us all), slick media framing and more. I…think some Whites realize this now more than ever. Some join in step with the government and media and quickly try to silence any political conversations by promoting the logical fallacy that critically thinking about race, racism and violence is equal to not caring about the victims of violence. White privilege and semantic warfare are partners in this illogical stance. But…other Whites know better. They know the truth. The problem is, again, many people, White and people of colour (with internalized White supremacist ideals), are avidly invested in protecting White supremacy, so even Whites who are now rejecting this all and whose views match other people or colour (who see or have always seen the truth) are in for a helluva fight. You think fighting the gun lobby is hard? Try dismantling the ideology behind their nonsensical need for gun violence to reinforce White masculinity or altering the two arms of oppression, the government and the media.

(Oh…and have you seen the filthy apologist, White supremacist post in the Opinion section of The New York Times? It’s reprehensible. I loved what some writers on Tumblr had to say about it.)

Interesting reads by other writers, related to this topic:

Nice White Boys Next Door - Sikvu Hutchinson

It Will Never Be The White Man’s Fault - queervomit

The Racism of Quaintness - girlebony

Time To Profile White Men? - David Sirota, Salon

America Breeds Terrorists. And They Are White Not Brown - Crunk Feminist Collective

Ten Differences Between White Terrorists And Others - veryethnic 

Related Posts: response To Edward Park’s quote on race/terrorism, response to President Obama’s statement after the Newtown terrorism, The High Cost Of Protecting Institutions and Ideologies Over Individuals, a tweet on terrorism, Aurora Theater Shooting = Terrorism, White Privilege and Criminal Justice
NRA finally meets its match: Why Richard Martinez should have them shaking

Richard Martinez’s son Christopher was among the six college students murdered this weekend in Isla Vista, California. It’s impossible to fathom the grief that Martinez must be experiencing right now, and the simple fact that he is upright and mobile is an act of tremendous courage. Which is precisely what makes everything else that he has done in the days since he lost his son all the more astounding.

From his first public statement — a blistering and emotional indictment of “craven” politicians who refuse to act on even moderate gun reform — to the tribute to Christopher he delivered Tuesday before a crowd of thousands, Martinez has been willing to show his raw and devastating grief to the world. He has made himself the gnarled and anguished face of our broken system — the lives that it takes and the lives that it ruins. His vulnerability and righteous, focused anger is unlike anything we’ve seen in response to a mass shooting.

And it should scare the shit out of the National Rifle Association, the gun lobby and the cowardly politicians who use these deadly weapons as literal and figurative political props.

It isn’t just the force of Martinez’s emotions or political conviction that make him powerful. He is currently shouldering the unimaginable grief of being yet another parent who has lost yet another child in yet another mass shooting. He has seen this happen before, he knows the political script that’s already playing out. He has listened as gun apologists — time and again — urge the nation not to “politicize” a national tragedy out of respect for the families, and then watched them turn on these same families in order to protect our deadly — and immensely profitable — culture of guns. And he’s using it. All of it.

Days after 26 people were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, Wayne LaPierre denounced gun reform advocates for “exploit[ing] the tragedy for political gain.” Months later, Sarah Palin echoed the sentiment. ”Leaders are in it for themselves, not for the American people,” she told a crowd that summer, before effectively declaring how proud she was that her son Trig would grow up in a country where men like Elliot Rodger and Adam Lanza can buy guns and hoard ammunition without authorities batting an eyelash.

Martinez may be the single most powerful force we have against this kind of slithering political cowardice. He’s already familiar with the political dirty tricks and knows where the conversation will eventually turn — that the pro-gun crowd is going to come out hard against him, just as they have turned on other parents and survivors. “Right now, there hasn’t been much blowback from the other side,” Martinez noted during a Tuesday interview with MSNBC. “But I anticipate that once my grieving period is over, the gloves will come off. I don’t think it’s going to be easy. They are going to try to do to me the same thing that they’ve done to all of these people. But I have a message for them: My son is dead. There is nothing you could do to me that is worse than that.”

I can’t imagine a more direct rebuttal to the LaPierres and the Palins in this country. To the ridiculous rifle-holding Mitch McConnells and every other ludicrous coward currently walking the halls of Congress and state legislatures across the country. These are the people who — as Martinez has made explicit — are responsible for these terribly predictable and preventable tragedies. Because they have the power to implement sensible reform, but instead stand by and do nothing while more people die every single day.

Martinez also knows that while it’s the public’s job to hold our leadership’s feet to the fire, he’s not the one responsible for having all the answers. “Where’s the leadership on this? We elect these people and we give them power, and it’s just outrageous,” he said during the same interview. “My son just died a few days ago, and you expect me to have the answers to these questions? There are people out there who have the answers. Why isn’t our leadership rounding these people up?”

But Martinez’s grasp of the issue puts most of our elected officials to shame. “When you asked me about solutions, here’s what I’ve learned,” he explained. “This is a complicated issue, but there’s a certain commonality between these events. Typically, all of these incidents involved […] mental health issues, gun violence and violence against women. These three problems are almost always combined.”

Like other parents whose lives have been upturned by gun violence —  women like Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin — Martinez recognizes and is naming the pattern of violence in the most public way imaginable. But while Congress has so far been wildly successful at shutting down gun reform efforts, parents like Martinez, McBath and Fulton — who are electrifying the national conversation and building solidarity among other families forever changed by rampant access to deadly weapons — may be impossible for them to ignore. They are the most powerful messengers we could ask for.

Martinez is brave, destroyed, weeping, loud, furious and unpredictable in his grief. He is channeling all of that with a singular focus: Change. Or as he said that first day, introducing himself to the world as the grieving but determined father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez: “Not one more.”

“For me to live with this and honor his memory, I will continue to go anywhere and talk to anybody for as long as they want and are willing to listen to me about this problem. I’m not going to shut up,” he said Tuesday. He really seems to mean it.

h/t: Katie McDonough at Salon

Stigma and Mental Health

Although some say that stigma against mental health is diminishing, the reality is that it is still a huge problem. It comes in so many forms that it’s hard to narrow it down for this post. 

I think in America right now the issue of mental health is a big thing after the recent Newtown Shooting. People seem to be racing to diagnose the shooter in the media, even though none of these clinicians have met him. Perhaps thinking that there is a tangible reason behind such a tragedy makes people feel more comfortable - as if , “Oh, he’s mentally ill, that makes more sense now”. (I want to stress that I’ve not heard anyone say that, I can only imagine that thought has crossed SOME individuals’ minds). 

I’m also not saying that the shooter wasn’t mentally ill. I am saying that because he is mentally ill doesn’t mean it was the reason he went on a shooting spree. 

There is a HUGE assumption that people with mental health problems are more violent and dangerous than healthy individuals. This is simply not true: social violence is not a feature of a mental illness.

Of course, it is important that if people have a mental health disorder and exhibit violent tendencies, then they should be treated and cared for appropriately. However, it is not appropriate is to assume that because someone is mentally ill, that they will be more likely to commit a crime. Or that if someone commits a crime or violent act that it stemmed from a mental illness.

Perfectly healthy individuals commit atrocious acts all the time, yet the media sensationalises the cases where the mentally ill are involved. Drawing links between mental health and mass shootings is unfounded and stigmatising, but this doesn’t seem to matter sometimes unfortunately. 

The negative outcomes of such stigma can be far reaching. I saw one report that said the shooter had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and one that said he had been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Obviously, I don’t know the level of truth behind either diagnosis, but then again neither will the hundreds of people reading such news stories.

What then happens to all the individuals who suffer from one of these diseases now, after some of the media have essentially implied that illnesses such as these leads to mass shootings? Straight away, a negative association is attached to these people without them even doing anything, which I think everyone can agree is not fair. 

Stigma is not just a problem with these high profile cases or highly wrote about disorders. People every day suffer from mental illness - 1 in 5 in the UK according to the NHS records - and feel that they can’t talk about it due to the stigma they might face. One of the links posted below states that only 1 in 500 people felt comfortable being open about their mental health, which is really sad. 

I’m not writing this post to stir up any arguments with people whose beliefs are different than mine. I’m writing it because I’ve been reading so much lately about this Newtown shooting and I do feel quite strongly about the issue of stigma in mental health, being a psychologist (well, nearly a psychologist - 6 months away!).

Here are some links to read if you are interested.

Newtown shootings underscore how confused we are about mental illness and violence

Mental Health Stigma - Mixed Signals

Secret Suffering as mental health stigma silences anxious voices

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