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Murrysville and Fort Hood Shootings: Should we be Surprised?

Lack of Parenting, Personal Responsibility, and an Entitlement Society Underlies Mass Killings

Last Wednesday, emergency responders gathered in the parking lot on the campus of Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville PA, after an attack there left 21 people, nearly all of them students, injured. Most suffered stab wounds or lacerations.

Authorities identified the suspect as 16-year-old Alex Hibbal. He is said by police to have begun his rampage just after 7 a.m., when he allegedly burst into a classroom in the science wing brandishing two large butcher knives. Police say he continued to stab and slash as he returned to the hallway, causing other students to stampede away from him.

A story on the Daily Beast includes the following statement: “At least when an all-too-real attack came on Wednesday morning, there was only the flashing of blades, not the roar of gunfire. The knives were enough to turn the school into what the police chief described as “a vast crime scene” and to force the cancellation of a lunchtime preview of the prom DJ (ah, poor kids). The prom itself is scheduled for Saturday and may well be postponed.”

Have we gotten to the point as a nation that following a tragic event we respond by saying: It could have been worse? In the years of the 2000s, so far 168 kids have been killed with the most occurring at Virginia Tech University (33) on April 6, 2007 and at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newton, Connecticut (28). Let’s not forget that there were 15 killed at Columbine, High School in 1999. Even though it wasn’t a school shooting, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the rampage by James Holmes at an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre on opening night of The Dark Knight Rising on July 20, 2012, where 12 were killed and 70 injured.

Add to this the shooting at Fort Hood two weeks ago where Ivan Lopez “snapped” and shot four dead and injured another 16. This follows the murders of Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people in 2009 in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, who was sentenced to death by a military jury after just two hours of deliberation. He appeared to have “ongoing medical problems.” Then, on September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis fatally shot twelve people and injured three others in a shooting at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command inside the Washington Navy Yard.

Finally, on March 12, 2014, 19-year old Darion Marcus Aguilar uploaded a picture of himself dressed in cargo pants and boots to the social networking web site Tumblr and went on a rampage at a shopping mall in Columbia, Maryland. He was so obsessed with the 1999 massacre at Columbine that he dressed up in an outfit reminiscent of those shooters and took a picture of himself. Aguilar fatally shot Brianna Benlolo, 21, and Tyler Johnson, 25, and injured a third person before turning the gun on himself.

It’s happens at schools, military facilities, movie theatres and malls…and who knows where next. We haven’t touched the surface of the cause of the problem instead emphasizing gun control and better mental health counseling. These may be important steps. I support mandatory psych evaluations for all school kids starting in grade school and throughout their college years. Does it infringe on one’s rights?

Probably, yes. Is it necessary given the juncture we are at right now as a nation? It’s critical. Early intervention is the key. It is essential to develop base line data and build on it to at least offer the possibility of stopping mass killings before they happen, and provide mental health counseling and other treatments to those who otherwise who might commit horrific crimes.

We need to get passed the political correctness issue and realize the primary responsibility of our government is to keep us safe whether it is from war with a hostile country, terrorism, or mass shootings that take the lives of the most vulnerable among us at a time when they haven’t had an opportunity to lead their lives and become contributing members of society.

The elephant in the room is the lack of parenting skills to build a sense of personal responsibility. Kids grow up without any discipline. They are accustomed to getting their way. The parents are often absent from their responsibilities; some because they both work to make ends meet and others out of neglect. I think it’s more the latter because parents who recognize the need to work hard to make ends meet are more likely to build in their kids the ethical value of hard work and the idea that each of us is responsible for our actions and decisions.

We live in a society that promotes instant gratification: I want it all and I want it now. We live in a society where people feel they should be given certain things just because they are here whether or not they’ve earned the right to have them. We have an entitlement society. We live in a society where the ends justify the means, and nothing could be further from the truth from an ethical perspective. The means are important. How we get to our goals in life are just as important as the road we travel to get there. In the end: We are what we do.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on April 15, 2014

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