Of the succession of school shootings that have occurred recently, the Amish school shooting where five young girls died was surely one of the most tragic.
For Loren Coleman, author of The Copycat Effect, the Amish shooting was one of a pattern of school shootings where the murderers had been influenced by the media coverage of past shootings. He argues that the media should be more responsible in the way they report these events. For instance, he thinks they should provide contact numbers for helplines alongside news reports, and that the media shouldn't sensationalise the events.
On his website he predicted that the 11th of October was a dangerous "hot window" for more school shootings. He was scarily close- on the 9th a thirteen year old boy would probably have killed classmates if his gun hadn't jammed.
What can be done? The media following Coleman's recommendations for covering these events could help, as could greater gun control.
Greater gun control is hard to achieve in America, however, as their constitution states that individuals have the right to bear arms.
Also, many conservatives such as Elisabeth Hasselbeck defend this right strongly, arguing that perhaps it would have been useful if the Amish schoolteachers had been able to defend themselves with guns(!):
If you don't have time to watch it, this clip shows Rosie O'Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View debating the issue- Rosie argues for more gun control; Elisabeth argues against it on the grounds that many people use guns to defend themselves.
Personally, I'm glad I live in a country that has comparatively strict gun controls in place. I think one of the best things John Howard has done while in power has been taking a strong stance on gun control following the Port Arthur Massacre, passing legislation that "included mandatory gun licenses and registration of all firearms, and a near-complete ban on all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, and all pump-action shotguns."
I think this had made Australia a safer place.
On the other side, however, gun control alone that will not stop people harming others. Even the Amish culture has its problems. David E. Yoder's comprehensive Amish Abuse website outlines many cases of Amish physical and sexual abuse within the culture. An ex-Amish himself, David outlines the difficulties and frustrations he has with both the Amish and the 'English' as he tries to get justice for a family of children abused by their parents.
I wish that we could eradicate all the bad from the world. That may be an impossible task, but stricter gun control and a more responsible media would be a start.
I just received an email from Loren Coleman(!), male author of The Copycat Effect.
He notes that: "It is intriguing you should mention the Port Arthur Massacre. The Port Arthur mass shooting was a copycat of the Dunblane, Scotland school shooting."
He wrote a blog about this, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", which can be found here.