Sunday, October 08, 2006

Knockin' On Heaven's Door

An older Caucasian man, who has in the past repressed his pedophilic urges, comes into a school only two days after a suicidal school incident, attacks a classroom, shooting and killing children, then turns his gun on himself. Later there's a copycat incident based on his horrible act.

Sound familiar? Of course it does as at least two of the recent six school shootings follow this pattern. But what I am talking about happened in 1996, not in 2006.

What occurred in Bailey and Nickel Mines is no surprise to those that remember Dunblane.

On Wednesday, March 13, 1996, an unemployed man Thomas Hamilton, 43, walked into an elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland, armed with two 9mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers. He was carrying 743 cartridges.

Hamilton, a former scout director who had gotten in trouble for taking photos of unclothed little boys, took his rampage into a classroom of 5-6 year olds, killing or wounding every person present except one student. Fifteen children and a teacher (Mrs. Gwen Mayor) died at the scene.

He then moved onto another room, but the teacher told all her pupils to get under their desks. He shot up the room, hitting 15 more kids and three teachers. He then turned the gun on himself. One of the children in that room died on the way to the hospital.

By the end of what today is known as the Dunblane Massacre, eighteen people were dead (i.e. five boys, eleven girls, one female teacher, and the male shooter). So many children died. So many.

Some earlier hints of the new "modern" era of school shootings in America began on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1996, when Barry Loukaitis, 14, dressed all in black with a long coat to hide a rifle and two guns, walked into his Frontier Junior High's fifth-period algebra class at Moses Lake, Washington State. He killed two students, severely wounded another, and then turned his gun on algebra teacher Leona Caires as she was writing an equation on the chalkboard, killing her. With 15 students in the room crying hysterically, Loukaitis said to them: "This sure beats algebra, doesn't it?" The line was a quote from the 1977 Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) novel Rage. (Loukaitis said he planned his attack carefully, getting ideas from the King book. In that story, a troubled youth takes a gun to Placerville High School, kills the algebra teacher and another adult, and takes the students hostage.) Loukaitis was taken into custody after he was tackled by reluctant hero Jon M. Lane, a physical eduation teacher.

Chillingly, two days before the Dunblane Massacre, on March 11, 1996, just before taking a quiz in an algebra class - a subtle link to Loukaitis - at the North Stanly High School, New London, North Carolina, Jamie Hurley, 15, took his own life with a 9mm pistol that he had hidden in his coat.

The Dunblane Massacre took place on March 13, 1996.

On April 28, 1996, a month and half after the Dunblane events, Martin Bryant, 28, killed 35 people and seriously injured 37, in the Port Arthur Massacre, at a historic tourist location in Tasmania, Australia. The chief defense psychiatrist in the case revealed that the Dunblane Massacre, and in particular the early treatment of Thomas Hamilton, was the trigger in Bryant's mind for the Port Arthur massacre.

With the consent of Bob Dylan, a Dunblane musician named Ted Christopher wrote a new verse for Knockin' On Heaven's Door in memory of the Dunblane school children and their teacher. The recording of the revised version of the song, which included brothers and sisters of the victims singing chorus and Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler on guitar, was released on December 9, 1996 in the UK, and reached number 1. The proceeds went to charities for the Dunblane children.

Christopher's new lyrics are:

Lord these guns have caused too much pain
This town will never be the same
So, for the bairns of Dunblane,
We ask, please, never again.

These words seem appropriate for these days, don't they?

1 comment:

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