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.
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.
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.
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.
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.