Once again, a small American town has been devastated by a deadly school shooting. Three Ohio high school students are dead, two others wounded, and a 17-year-old, T.J. Lane, stands accused of murder after he allegedly fired 10 shots from a .22-caliber handgun at random students in his school's cafeteria. The town of Chardon, outside Cleveland, is in mourning, as families, friends, teachers, and strangers ask how such a "horrific" tragedy could occur. Here, five theories on where the blame belongs for Chardon and similar shootings:
1. Gun laws are too lax
There is no easy explanation for the Chardon tragedy, says psychiatrist Frank Ochberg at CNN, but "access to guns" is a significant factor. "If kids could not and did not bring guns to school, we wouldn't have Columbine, Virginia Tech or Chardon, Ohio." Wake up, Ohio lawmakers, says Elizabeth Flock at The Washington Post. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave the state a 7 out of 100 for the strength of its gun laws. The legislature has already made it legal to carry concealed firearms into bars and restaurants, and now it's considering allowing them on college campuses, too.
2. Parents aren't careful enough with their guns
Whenever a tragedy like this occurs, we "focus on the word school," say Erika Christakis and Nicholas A. Christakis at TIME. But "the shooters didn't get their guns at school. The guns weren't fashioned in woodshop. The guns came from home, and they were obtained by adults," often the shooter's own parents. "Shouldn't parents who fail to secure a firearm at their home assume some responsibility for the actions of a child who uses the weapon?"
3. Bullying can push students over the edge
"Apparently, bullying has once again led to bullets," says J.D. Crowe at the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register. Cassmates of T.J. Lane say he was an "outcast" who was bullied at school. "Bullying is a deadly cycle. A kid has it tough at home, feels insecure, and takes it out on a kid at school." The bullied kid, already emotionally vulnerable, can sometimes snap. Sometimes, "all it takes to push a troubled kid over the edge is a dirty look or a harsh word." The prosecutor in Chardon, however, says that didn't happen in this case. "He chose his victims at random. This is not about bullying," says prosecutor David Joyce. "This is someone who's not well."
4. Communities fail to react to the warning signs
"Although some people claim that they are shocked that Lane would have committed this shooting," says Chrissie Klingner at Gather, "others say there were signs and this could have been prevented." Lane recently posted a rant on Facebook that concluded, "Die, all of you." Some friends said that Lane looked sad recently. "Were the small signs overlooked?" One of Lane's friends, who witnessed the shooting, posted a message to Facebook, according to ABC News, saying: "I wanted so bad to try and help you but I could see in your eyes you didn't care anymore. I'm sorry, buddy."
5. It's the legacy of Columbine
"We thought Columbine was Armageddon," says Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben at Yahoo News. But in the years since that sad April day in 1999, when 15 people were murdered, more and more students have brought guns to school to shoot classmates, teachers, and themselves. "As if killing classmates wasn't grim enough, some even link their massacres to other notorious shootings. Columbine has become a goal for some to outdo."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
Subscribe to the Week