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Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The shooting that happened on December 14, 2012, took twenty-eight lives and left two individuals injured (Wombacher et al., 2018). After murdering his mother Adam Lanza went ahead to shoot twenty students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before committing suicide (DiLeo et al., 2018). The present study aims at analyzing the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and how the incident affected the public policy of the state.
Description of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting Tragedy
The attack started when Lanza shot dead his mother using a 22-caliber rifle. Lanza then destroyed his computer’s hard drive before leaving the house. The act of destroying the computer’s hard drive made it difficult for the law enforcers to collect evidence. After killing his mother Lanza gathered a shotgun, AR-15, two semiautomatic pistols, and several hundred rounds of ammunition and drove his mother’s car, and arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School at 9:00 AM (Wombacher et al., 2018). While in the school compound, Lanza was confronted by the school principal psychologist and shot both women killing them instantly. Lanza then entered the first classroom killing the teacher and 14 students and then proceeded to the second class killing six learners and their teacher. In total Lanza killed 20 students and six teachers before committing suicide (DiLeo et al., 2018). The first emergency call from the school was received at exactly 9:35 AM and the law enforcers arrived within minutes. However, by the time the police arrived Lanza had already committed suicide. Police immediately started the investigation and established that Lanza used a handgun to commit suicide and an AR-15 as a primary weapon in the attack.
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Risk Factors for School Shootings
School shootings have a long history in the United States of America sparking massive media attention and national debate on gun violence and the need for extra security precautions in learning institutions (Patterson, 2021). Despite such efforts, there have been several incidences including the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech where 32 individuals lost their lives. The main risk factors for school shootings include social rejection, bullying, psychological disorders, availability of firearms, and consumption of violent media. Wilson (2022) identified social rejection and bullying which challenged boy’s masculinity as the main risk factors for most school shootings where the main perpetrators are boys. The main risk factor which led to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is psychological problems and the availability of guns. Lanza had a mental problem that was completely untreated for years before the shooting (Wilson, 2022). Lanza was suffering from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder and he had not been given recommended drugs and services. Individuals with psychological issues should not have access to firearms. Therefore the ability to access firearms also increased the risk of the mass shooting.
Legislative Response to Sandy Hook Shooting
Following the shooting and investigation into the incident, the debate about Second Amendment intensified. Legislators started debating gun control legislation and the National Rifle Association responded to the tragedy by advocating for the employment of armed guards in schools which has already been implemented by some states and learning institutions (Wilson, 2022). The legislation inspired the introduction of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 which proposed the bun of more than 150 firearm models and magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition (Patterson, 2021). Despite increased public support for more restrictive gun laws, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 was defeated on the floor of the Senate.
To effectively deal with the issue of school shootings, the state and federal governments must come up with strategies that can reduce access to firearms, especially to individuals with mental health problems. The government and educational administrators must address issues related to bullying, drug abuse, and social isolation. Since most perpetrators of the mass shooting have mental health problems, state policies on mental illness can help reduce the incidences of homicide and suicides.
- DiLeo, P., Rowe, M., Bugella, B., Siembab, L., Siemianowski, J., Black, J., … & Styron, T. (2018). The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: Connecticut’s department of mental health crisis response. Journal of school violence, 17(4), 443-450.
- Patterson, B. (2021). A Chilling New Normal: Examining School Shooting Culture in the Sandy Hook Promise PSA Back-To-School Essentials. University of Wyoming.
- Wilson, A. K. (2022). Cable News Coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting: An Ethical Analysis Behind Reporting During Sandy Hook.
- Wombacher, K., Herovic, E., Sellnow, T. L., & Seeger, M. W. (2018). The complexities of place in crisis renewal discourse: A case study of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 26(1), 164-172.