Grief and anger after Texas school shooting

Not again: The US has 5% of the world’s population, but 31% of its mass shooters. © Getty

Will America ever fix its gun problem? On Friday, a 17-year-old opened fire on his classmates at a Texas high school. It was the fourth deadliest shooting at a US school in modern history.

Trenton Beazley woke up on Friday excited about his baseball match that evening for Santa Fe High School. It was a normal Texas spring morning.

His first class was art. Then, at around 7:30am, Beazley, The New York Times writes, “heard the sound that has become too routine in schools across America: Bang. Bang. Bang.”

Two teachers and eight of his classmates lay dead. The shooter stalked back and forth between two classrooms inside the school, firing constantly.

The perpetrator was 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis. He used a shotgun and a .38 revolver that were legally owned by his father. Multiple improvised explosive devices were also reportedly found around the school. He told police he had spared certain students he liked “so he could have his story told”.

Officials say there were few signs that Pagourtzis would become a killer. He had no criminal record. One of his former teachers said: “He was quiet, but he wasn’t quiet in a creepy way.”

It is just over three months since 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That attack created a nationwide youth-led campaign for gun control. Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Washington calling for stronger gun laws. A series of changes, including moves to ban so-called bump stocks, which were used in last year's Las Vegas shooting, have been proposed.

But here we are again, asking all the familiar questions.

“I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views… Please do not post anything about [how] ‘guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do’,” Houston’s police chief, Art Acevedo, wrote on Facebook.

“This isn’t a time for prayers, and study and inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing),” he added.

Will his wish come true?

Déjà vu

One day it will, say some. While many still cling to the Second Amendment, polls show that the majority of Americans support a range of individual policies to control guns. The last three months have revealed a new generation refusing to stand idly by after shooting after shooting. Change is possible.

Not a chance, reply others. Guns are too deeply embedded in American society for any meaningful reform to take place. The gun lobby still wields vast power. And even ridding America of every single firearm would not solve the main problems, which concern masculinity, social alienation and a wider cultural crisis in modern America.

You Decide

  1. What is the main reason for mass shootings in America?
  2. Will America ever repeal the Second Amendment?

Activities

  1. Draw up a timeline of mass shootings in recent US history, including the reactions to each event.
  2. Imagine you are the principal of Santa Fe High School. Write a speech to give to your students in response to the shooting.

Some People Say...

“This country will give up schools before it gives up guns.”

Sean Thomason

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Ten people were killed when Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, opened fire at his high school near Houston, Texas. Thirteen others were wounded in the attack, with two in critical condition. Pagourtzis was injured during the attack. It is the 21st shooting at a school in the US this year. In total 39 people have died. The rate of school shootings has increased dramatically over the last decade.
What do we not know?
Very much about Pagourtzis himself. It is believed he planned to kill himself after killing his peers, but was unable to go through with it, and instead gave himself up to the authorities. We do not yet know his motive. He previously posted a picture on Facebook wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Born to Kill”.

Word Watch

Texas
The state has some of the most lax gun laws in the country. Anyone over the age of 21 can buy a handgun, which can be carried openly in public. If a person has been convicted of a felony, they cannot buy a gun.
His father
Pagourtzis’s father migrated to the US from Greece. His family was involved in the local Greek Orthodox Church.
Few signs
He posted a T-shirt with the slogan “Born to Kill” emblazoned on it, along with images of a trench coat and an explanation of its decorations.“Hammer and Sickle = Rebellion,” he wrote. “Rising Sun = Kamikaze Tactics, Iron Cross = Bravery, Baphomet = Evil.”
Parkland
The perpetrator was Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from the school.
Bump stocks
An attachment that makes a semi-automatic weapon, such as an AR-15 rifle, shoot nearly as fast as a fully-automatic machine gun.
Las Vegas shooting
The deadliest mass shooting in US history occurred when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock murdered at least 58 concert-goers from his hotel window in October 2017.
Second Amendment
This enshrines the right to bear arms in the US Constitution.

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