Why So Many School Shootings?

Is it true that there are more school shootings today than ever before? What does history show?

Early School Shootings

The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where four Lenape American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania. There, they shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and nine or ten children (reports vary). In 1927, Andrew Kehoe, a farmer who was outraged about the property taxes he was paying to fund a rural Michigan school, used a bomb to blow up the school in 1927, killing 45 people; 38 of them children, so history shows that mass killings at schools are not a recent phenomenon, just as they’re not new to other nations.

Deadliest Shootings

Virginia Tech: Student Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people on the Blacksburg, Virginia university campus in 2007.

Sandy Hook: Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 elementary school children, six school employees, his mother and himself in his rampage at the Newtown, Connecticut school in 2012.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: In 2018, in Parkland Florida, 17 died while 14 were injured. The perpetrator was 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

University of Texas at Austin: In 1966, 17 died and 31 were injured when a former student and former Marine (Charles Whitman, 25) climbed atop an observation tower at the University of Texas at Austin, and fired on students during a 96-minute rampage.

Columbine: In 1999, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people at their high school, and then they killed themselves.

Oikos: In 2012, at a small Christian college in Oakland, California, a former student, One Goh, killed seven people and injured three more.

Red Lake: In 2005, Minnesota high school student Jeff Weise killed his grandfather and another person at his home, then went to his school and killed a security guard, a teacher, five students and himself.

Heart Problems

People may think that school shootings are worse today than ever before, but history shows that this has been happening for a very long time, and not just in our nation, because there are similar reports from all around the world, so what’s wrong? What’s at the heart of the violence? It is the heart itself. An un-regenerated heart will almost always choose what is best for self rather than what is best for others. Of course, many people who are not saved do many good things, but as Christ-followers know, doing good is not good enough to enter the kingdom. It takes the righteousness of God. God demands righteousness to enter the kingdom, but God provides what He demands through His Son, Jesus Christ. The problem is that many reject Jesus Christ as God, as Savior, and as the King of kings and Lord of lords, so what will it take for them to believe? The same thing it will take for God’s chosen people, Israel. Ezekiel writes, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezk 11:19), and it is only then “that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezk 11:20). This is much the same thing that Jeremiah wrote about God’s people (Jer 24:7), and elsewhere he writes, “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them” (Jer 32:29). Without a new heart, there will be no desire for God or for living in obedience. It’s going to take a heart transplant.

Heart Transplant

The Old Testament says a lot about the human heart, most of it unflattering. In speaking about Judah, Jeremiah wrote, “This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing” (Jer 13:10). Today, we are asking the same things that Jeremiah anticipated: “Why have these things come upon me?” but then he writes that “it is for the greatness of your iniquity that your skirts are lifted up and you suffer violence” (Jer 13:22). Seeking solutions to violence is good, but without the Spirit of God, there is little that can be done with the human heart. Again, Jeremiah writes, “Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer 17:5). By trusting in our own heart or our own selves, apart from God, we are destined to resort to our old nature, and what are the natural tendencies of an un-regenerated heart? Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jer 17:9)? This is why God says, “Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds” (Jer 18:11), however, in most cases, the response is, “That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jer 18:12). We can read about the consequences of rejecting Christ in the daily news.

Conclusion

Is it true that school shootings are a greater problem today than ever…or do we just have better press coverage today? The historical evidence is that there have always been mass killings at schools. Nothing much has changed. It is only the weapons that have become more sophisticated. It’s easier today to kill large numbers of people than it used to be because of the technology, but it’s not the technology that’s the problem. Technology itself doesn’t pull triggers or push the buttons. It is the un-regenerate heart that’s the problem, and for those who reject Jesus Christ, God will be against them, and if that’s you, it’s “because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5). Why reject your only hope? God promises that He “will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezk 36:26), and it will be a heart that will choose life…eternal life, by repentance and faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Only then will the violence stop, at least in that person who has a new heart…a person with a heart of flesh and not of stone. They’ll become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), and new creations in Christ don’t kill, but do as Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27). Loving our neighbors is a choice, but we can only love our neighbor if we have a new heart…a heart that chooses life.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    “It is the un-regenerate heart that’s the problem, and for those who reject Jesus Christ, God will be against them, and if that’s you, it’s “because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5). Why reject your only hope?”

    The better question would be why does your “jesus” sit back and watch mass school shootings and what kind of a psychopath would worship such a “being” who despite being able to intervene doesn’t and instead issues death threats of his own if you don’t “believe” the most stupid, unsupported, superstitious Bronze Age nonsense?

  • Carlos Santiago

    It’s a complex issue with no simple answer because many are mentally ill and unable to reason. It’s not all about guns, bombs or devices . In prison they may fashion nearly any item into a weapon. I will say that in prison ministry I have met many(for those who can reason) whose previous behavior, apparently has turned away from the desire for violence and death to peace and service through Jesus Christ. For one person I know very well who was at San Quentin, the transformation has been remarkable. Yes they still have the ability to kill but the mind is no longer embracing that trajectory. Instead as Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Paul did not write this as lofty theological theory; he wrote this because he himself was the test case who formerly was complicit in the killing of the Apostle Stephen as he tells in Acts 20:20. Peace

  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    Regarding the last sentence of your article: “Loving our neighbors is a choice, but we can only love our neighbor if we have a new heart…a heart that chooses life.”: Are you saying that only a Christian can love his neighbor?

    I heartily agree that all people are born with a sinful heart and need a new heart which only God can provide.

    It is true that “mass killings at schools are not a recent phenomenon, just as they’re not new to other nations”. However, they are far more common in America than in other countries, and they are far more common in America now than they were previously. It is not so that “Nothing much has changed”, but “better press coverage” causes us to think otherwise. We have had daily news reports via newspaper, radio, and television for many decades, but only recently have we become inured to school shootings.

    From what I have seen and heard, one of the most shocking events in America during the 1960s was the University of Texas tower shooting, which your article mentions. One of the reasons it was shocking was because at the time such a crime seemed unthinkable. If such a shooting happened today, it would not be considered unthinkable–it would, rather, be expected, like a traffic accident: just one of the many which occur in our country. The Las Vegas shooting which occurred last autumn did not was horrific, but it was not shocking, even though far more people were killed in it than in the shooting at Austin in 1966.

    In the years when I was in high school, no one feared that someone would come to school with a gun with the intention of killing as many people as he could. Now that is a fear–with good reason.

  • Maltnothops

    If an un-regenerated heart (sic) is the cause of school shootings and if only Christianity leads to a regenerated heart (sic), then it is to be expected that non-Christian countries and cultures would have far more school shootings after you’ve controlled for gun ownership rates.

    That does not appear to be the case, which greatly undermines the hypothesis about an un-regenerated heart (sic).

    • pud

      FACTS? REASON? Wait a minute mister! You can’t come here waving your facts, reason and logic around! LOL Don’t worry though, jack and his delusional minions will dismiss the obvious truth out of hand

  • The above article really doesn’t address the problem of school shootings at all. For one thing, saying that we’ve always had school shootings and thus there is nothing new. Such a mentality forgets that frequency is also an issue. For today’s problem with mass shootings isn’t its existence, it’s its frequency. Have school shooting increased? Have mass shootings increased? The stats for the latter say yes. In fact, there are more mass shootings this decade (34 and counting) than during the last decade.

    There is another problem with the article. That problem is that it describes a social problem from a conservative Church perspective. And that perspective is meant to say to society that without us, you have no hope. If we took a look at racism in America, such a message rings false. For the conservative Church in America more often than not stood as an opponent to integration and equality between the races rather than a source for the solution to racism. If the conservative Church is going to earn credibility in society so that it can better carry out the Great Commission, it has to address school shooting as a social problem in a society that Christians share with non-Christians.

    And yet another problem is the assumption that only the Gospel changes people. Activism and new laws have affected people’s attitudes and treatment of those from different races. The changes are certainly incomplete and sometimes reversed, but they are also undeniable. I saw that when I taught in colleges. Even when I started in the mid 1990s until 2013, I saw a significant growth in diversity and that part was wonderful. What caused that diversity? It was activism and new laws. Past activism and new laws also changed relations between employers and workers. That there are reversals occur doesn’t negate the fact that there are times when societal problems can be addressed without preaching the Gospel, though we should never stop preaching the Gospel. We should note here that though the preaching of the Gospel is not needed to affect changes in society, that no such positive changes occur without God.

    • Jack Wellman

      The ultimate solution is addressed here and that is Jesus Christ Who will reign and subdue the nations and violence will be no more. How you can say it doesn’t address the problem is beyond me.

      • Jack,
        But we still have to address the temporary situation where we share society with others. And in such diverse society, where some Christians are a part of the problem, it is quite easy to say His second coming doesn’t address the situation. Our stewardship on earth is not based on what will be accomplished when Christ returns.

      • pud

        But meanwhile “jesus” is content to sit up there (wherever up there is) and watch school shootings with a smirk on his face as he refuses to intervene for some sick psychotic reason that only lunatics like you could possibly rationalize.

        eh jack?

      • pud

        Gonna put the boot on the neck of humanity eh jack?…someday…soon…

        You are sick

  • pud

    Mass shootings are a phenomenon almost entirely exclusive to RELIGIOUS nations and cultures. When was the last one in Japan?

    Lunatic