On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the silence of the early morning on the University of Texas’ campus was shattered when freshman Colton Tooley fired an AK-47 assault rifle across the manicured lawns. No one was injured except for Tooley, who put a bullet in his own head.
Police at the University of Texas are still searching for a motive. The problem is, they may never find one. Sure, the cops might discover a surface excuse, such as the man broke up with his girlfriend. But, this is not the core reason. It’s never that simple.
We keep asking ourselves, “Why? Why does this keep hap-pening? Why do those kids have to die? Why there? Why not here?” There are no answers. That’s what scares us.
The school might be miles away, but we feel the violence and deaths just as acutely as if they’d happened next door. Because the reality is, it could happen here.
Really, who looks at their fellow peers, and thinks that they might be a crazed gunman? And since we are unable to find a direct internal source for this violence, we’ve targeted a convenient scapegoat. Every time there is a school shooting, inevitably, I hear many people blaming some form of media.
The public has often blamed the media for acts of violence in schools, but this is a fallacy. Students don’t shoot up their universities because they played a violent video game or watched a horror movie.
A tragic irony that blasts the media influence in school shootings theory is that that University of Texas had a prior school shooting — long before Grand Theft Auto and Freddie Krueger.
In 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the clock tower and opened fire on the school grounds, murdering 14 people. The top-rated films of that year were the family movies, “Born Free” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Oh, the violent influence.
However, guess who trained the young man how to become a sniper? The U.S. Marines did. Add to that a dysfunctional family and heavy prescription drug use, and the reasons for the shooting become more murky.
Grand Theft Auto didn’t make the Virginia Tech student kill his classmates. “Kill Bill” didn’t force the University of Arkansas shooters to slay their peers. To rephrase the pompous National Rifle Association’s slogan, “It’s not violent video games and movies that kill people, it’s psychotics.”
Those who knew Tooley are saying that he was quiet and shy. They claim that the suicidal Rambo would never hurt a fly. Does this sound familiar? It seems like every school shooter was a harmless, quiet and loving person; up until the day they killed others.
Hundreds of millions of people watch the same movies and play the same games that these shooters do. Yet, they don’t take an AK-47 to college and assassinate their classmates.
I grew up watching horror movies and playing violent video games with my family. Yes, the experience does get you hyped up, but you don’t become Terminator.
A few years ago in the Bronx, people were shooting at someone a block ahead of us, forcing us to duck behind a car. Desensitization, my butt. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. And that’s how normal people react.
These students didn’t get their ideas from the media and the sooner that society learns that, the sooner that we can start to develop new ways to attempt to identify people with similar thoughts and give them the help that they need. Until then, these tragedies will continue to happen, and we’ll be helpless to stop them.