It is a tragedy that there are so many school shootings across the world ‘ mostly in North America. The debate on what to do about it will no doubt rage for years in the USA and Canada, in the meantime they will continue to take place. There were 11 in the USA during 2012, culminating at the end of the year in the most famous (discussed in this list). It isn’t always disaffected students; in some cases it is formers teachers and other times total strangers. It isn’t always the USA and Canada either, as this list demonstrates:
1. Columbine High School, USA: 1999
Perhaps the most famous of school shootings in the USA, it made world news because it was clearly planned rather than a conventional spree killing. Twelve students and two teachers were killed and a further twenty four students were injured in a combined bombing and shooting (the bomb was a diversion). Famously, Michael Moore made a documentary about the problems of accessibility of guns in America and sparking furious debate about gun control and Second Amendment right to bear arms.
2. Virginia Tech, USA: 2007
This is another of the more famous shootings in the USA because of the focus on the perpetrator and the fact that it was the deadliest spree killing by a single gunman anywhere. Seung-Hui Cho had mental health problems and the case led to tightening up the laws on whether or not to permit those with severe mental health issues access to weapons. Cho took his own life at the end of the massacre in which he killed thirty-two and injured seventeen.
3. Dunblane Primary School, Scotland: 1996
The only school shooting anywhere in the United Kingdom, this shooting at a school for 4-6 year olds took place in a small town in Scotland. The gunman legally owned all four handguns he used during the killings. Seventeen people (one teacher and sixteen children) died in the shootings before the gunman took his own life. 2013 Wimbledon winner Andy Murrary is from the town of Dunblane and had attended the school as a child. He did not speak out about the massacre until the eve of his Wimbledon win.
4. Sandy Hook Elementary School, USA: 2012
The final school shooting in 2012 in the USA was sadly the eleventh of the year. The lone gunman killed twenty-six individuals, twenty of whom were children. Prior to arriving at the school, the gunman shot and killed his own mother. Once again it opened debate about availability of weapons to the general population. In the days that followed the NRA launched a verbal assault against those who sought to take away the Second Amendment Rights of American citizens and called for a private force to be established to protect children in schools.
5. Ozar Hatorah School, France: 2012
Another ‘only one to date’, this is the only school shooting ever to have taken place in France. A known Islamic terrorist attacked a Jewish day school, killing three children and one teacher in the city of Toulouse. The gunman escaped the school after the shooting and the Gendarmes later went to his apartment to arrest him. He resisted arrest, shot at the armed Police and a siege began. It lasted several days and in the end his apartment was stormed. He came out shooting, jumped out of a window and was killed by a police sniper.
6. Bremen School Shooting, Germany: 1913
Europe’s first known school shooting took place at a Catholic school for girls in Germany. A former teacher at the school, the gunman killed five and wounded twenty others. He was overcome by quick thinking teachers and turned over to the authorities who then had to protect him from an angry crowd it was believed intended to lynch him. He was never tried for the crime and was judged to have been of unsound mind; he spent the rest of his life in an asylum and died in 1932.
7. Altona Schoolhouse, Canada: 1902
Canada’s first recorded school shooting is the subject of conflicting viewpoints. Seven people were shot, (mostly adults) two died and five recovered. The shooter, a man named Henry Toews, was the school’s only teacher. Believed to be of Russian descent, he had lived in Manitoba for some years. The news reports from the time refer to the teacher as both pleasant and bad-tempered, both a good teacher and a bad teacher. He eventually shot himself but a poor aim meant that he did not die immediately.
8. Sana’a School, Yemen: 1997
School shootings are not just endemic to the western world as demonstrated in this example from the Middle East. A 48 year old father killed six people and injured twelve, indiscriminately shooting at anybody who crossed his path. The first victim was the headmistress. The incident happened, the perpetrator alleged, because he had heard the School Administrator had raped one of his daughters. A subsequent investigation discovered no evidence for this. He was found guilty and executed by firing squad the following day.
9. Lanzhou School, China: 2002
School shootings are not unknown in the Communist states as demonstrated by this example from China. Information is sparse but it seems that a gunman entered a school in the provincial capital, killed one and injured two others before fleeing into the streets. The Police gave chase and after a brief stand-off eventually shot him dead. He was later identified as the school’s bus driver.
10. Beirut Arab University Shooting, Lebanon: 2007
Some shootings are not the actions of an individual or small group with a personal grudge (real or perceived), sometimes they are symptomatic of wider problems in society. Political issues in the country during that year spilled over into the university. Riots broke out and eventually guns were drawn. Four people died and two were injured in the clashes.
There are shootings all over the world and sadly the above list is just a selection of some of the most notable. How each country deals with them or will deal with them will vary. One thing they can all agree on though is that the very young and the people that teach them in educational centres deserve protection.