Oxford is yet another example why parents of school shooters should be held responsible

Michael Sicoli, Editor-in-Chief

(From left to right) Oxford High School students Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Madisyn Baldwin and Tate Myre were killed during a school shooting Nov. 30 (Photos from Vsco, Facebook, Twitter)

The U.S. is no stranger to embarrassments, and nothing has been more sad recently than the scourge of school shootings.

School shootings are an epidemic that make me ashamed to be an American. Nowhere else in the world is this occurring with a similar frequency. A CNN-led analysis of news reports found from that the U.S. had 57 times as many school shootings as the leading industrial nations from 2009-18.

That comes out to at least 288 school shootings in that span. The next closest country with viable data is Mexico with eight.

It’s tough to find the words for it, because it’s all been said. From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Parkland to the recent shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan that left four high schoolers dead and seven more injured, every angle has been talked about.

Resolutions are argued in courts as ineffectively as they are argued at the dinner table. Protests rock local areas, patches are worn on shirts and promises are made. But a week or two goes by, and everyone forgets. A month passes, and another shooting occurs where children are gunned down, most of the time by a classmate.

Unless it hits a certain prominence or body count, it won’t receive nationwide coverage. Nobody realizes that there have been 32 school shootings since Aug. 1. That averages out to over two school shootings every week over the four-month span.

I don’t want my future children growing up in this environment. I don’t want them to become a statistic.

School shootings remain one of the blackest marks on the U.S.’ record, and it should be pinned on those who know the shooter. Parents of school shooters should specifically bear much of the blame, and they should be held responsible for the deaths of young Americans and teachers.

With all these shootings, there were signs leading up to them. The shooter made threats against others, bragged about their access to firearms, suffered from chronic isolation or loneliness, etc. It starts in the home, and promoting awareness to parents to be more attentive would go a long way toward stopping the bloodshed.

The Oxford shooter posted a video the night before the shooting saying exactly what he ended up doing. The Parkland shooter had enough warning signs that there are thousands of words dedicated to the ignored red flags alone. The Secret Service even investigated 67 “disrupted plots” targeting grade schools from 2006-18. It found school shooters showed “clear and consistent” warning signs that led authorities to prevent a tragedy thanks to community reports.

Oftentimes, parents and family members see these signs the most due to the close proximity of which the shooter lives. A hardened mindset of “My kid would never do that,” leaves concerns shoved under the bed like an unpaired sock. When the tragedy happens, it’s always “I had no idea.”

You did. There were signs, and they went ignored.

Infographic by Connor Lawless

The Oxford shooter had a journal dictating what he planned to do. School administrators had flagged him for behavioral issues. Social media channels showed him practicing with a Sig Sauer handgun. Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said she is “confident” that there was heavy premeditation before the day of the shooting. The shooter’s parents texted their son “Don’t do it” after reported shots became public. Too little, too late.

Hell, students themselves tend to be aware of it beforehand. It’s often stereotyped as the quiet kid wearing black clothes. I’m no longer surprised when that student turns a gun on classmates, but I’m outraged that officials let it happen.

Police arrested the parents of the Oxford shooter on several counts of involuntary manslaughter. The charges are based around the allegation that the gun was not secured in the house. McDonald alleged that the gun was an early Christmas present. Holding guardians accountable should remain the norm, but preventative measures should not stop at parental responsibility.

Reporting more of these signs means that law enforcement must investigate credible tips. The FBI failed to follow proper protocol just a month before the shooting at Parkland where 17 people were killed and 17 more were injured.

Implementing red flag gun laws, which allow police or family members to petition a judge to remove firearms from someone that poses a threat to themselves or the people around them, could prevent this from happening again. As any gun control measure stands it is a hotly debated issue, but it stands to reason that this would limit the amount of guns in the hands of unstable people.

Most likely, little will change with this recent shooting. As sad as that is, a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds were killed in their school, and little is going to change to prevent future school shootings. Just this past week Hamden High School — five miles from Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel campus — closed its doors for three days due to two separate threats of gun violence. It plans to reopen with metal detectors. While I thoroughly applaud the initiative the school took, the mindset being you can never be too safe, it should rattle people that this is happening right in Quinnipiac’s backyard.

It’s clear that reporting dangers within your community is a way to save lives. It’s not prying or invasive to report a concern you have — it’s a protective measure. If you find yourself in that spot, ask yourself a simple question:

“What if I’m right?”