With a subject as devastating as school shootings, the roots causes of the violence as well as the violent acts must be considered problems in order to tackle the issue.
Warnick, Kim and Robinson’s work focuses on the contributing factors of how schools became conceived as locations for gun violence. They argue that the schools are create a space where bullying, microaggressions, and coercion create power structures that escalate feelings of anger and violence; students who come to a severe breaking point use violence to attack the system and display their own power. Romanticized expectations of school surrounding a sense of community and strong relationships create a bigger sense of failure for students who do not achieve their desired sense of belonging. The “expressive individualism” of suburban culture can lead students down the dangerous path to “expressive violence” (Warnick et al, 2015, 371).
Shuffleton (2015) also points to big conceptual themes as the main factors leading to gun violence: social pressures of school, ideas of masculinity consumer capitalism, state power, and postmodern media. Gun policy is noticeably absent in both scholars’ assessments, who present their works as comprehensive overviews of gun violence in schools.
Shuffleton’s work unfolds a nuanced assessment, where researching gun violence in schools also faces impediments. Scholarship on school shootings must proceed with a delicacy unrequired of research on other matters: academics approach the issue, wary of reducing massacre stories to anecdotes or logic flows and careful to not dramatize the issue into “mass media-scripted clichés” (Shuffleton 2015). By highlighting the complexity of the issue to properly instill the gravity of the situation, Shufftleton (2015) aims to contribute to the scholarship on gun violence in a respectful manner.
Shuffleton distinguishes how gun violence unfolds differently in urban and suburban areas—where the latter is statistically and culturally more likely to occur inside rather than outside of school. She notes a racial geography of the United States can be used in tandem with the community type to further define the phrase “school shootings,” as white students in majority white schools have largely perpetrated them (Shuffleton 2015). Gun violence in schools, though present for decades, is increasing in frequency and deadliness. Warnick et al (2015) argues that school shootings have become their own “distinct genre of violence” and that the phenomenon can be contributed to overarching sociocultural factors. Both scholars point to big themes in society, such as media and a culture of violence, as the culprits breeding a context that increases the severity of gun violence in schools. The effects are deeply embedded in communities and splashed across the news. Each author nods to the devastation of school shootings and acknowledge they cannot fully describe the effects, focusing on the concept at large rather than personal experiences.
The Possible Solutions
Shuffleton (2015) asserts there is no “silver bullet” to this nuanced, complex, and mysterious issue. Myriad institutions and societal norms influence perpetrators of gun violence, so Shufftleton advises action must be taken to combat each facet that contributes to violence. Warnick et al (2015) suggests it is of utmost important to create strong communities with compassionate support systems for students, so that dashed expectations, struggling with school power structures, and the manifestation of “expressive individualism” do not result in another massacre. Calling for more thought and scholarship, Shuffleton asserts the issue merits more attention to refine and implement effective solutions.