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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 16:57 GMT
US school shooting: Your reaction
Red Lake High School students Sondra Hegstrom, Marla Hegstrom and Ashley Morrison weep together following a deadly shooting rampage
An American schoolboy has shot dead nine people and then killed himself at a school in Minnesota.

The teenage gunman also killed two of his grandparents before going on a rampage at Red Lake High School on an Indian reservation, the authorities say.

The shooting is the worst US school massacre since two teenage gunmen killed 13 people and themselves at Columbine high school in Colorado in 1999.

What is your reaction to the shootings? Do you fear for your children's safety at school? Have you been affected by violence at schools? How can schools be made safer for children?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK:
What are peoples' reactions to the Minnesota school shooting?

I feel sorry and scared for American teenagers whose lives are surrounded by guns. The Red Lake shooting is one of the several recent tragedies that American teens had to endure unnecessarily. Why does this keep happening?
J. Jang, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

This was obviously a very troubled teen. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy. If it hadn't been a gun, this child would have chosen some other method to call attention to his troubles. We need to spot kids who need help, and get them help.
GG, Vancouver WA USA

When we start trying every murderer, regardless of age, as an adult with the possibility of the death penalty and actually implementing it, these crimes will go down. I think the media should report each of these executions so that kids know there is a punishment for crimes like these.
Karwolo, Maryland, USA

I'm disgusted with all of the European opinions on the page that claim that this is indicative of American gun culture or saying that we should all listen to Michael Moore. When my grandmother went to elementary school in rural Arizona, she carried a small shotgun with her to guard against snakes. She would just leave a loaded shotgun in the coat room at elementary school! When my father went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, he and several of his friends kept guns in their dorm rooms because hunting was popular. It would not at all be unusual to see people walk down the halls with loaded shotguns. There were no school shootings in 1915 or in 1960, so I think there is something else at work here. Maybe it's the way the media latches onto a story like this and gives a dejected Native American neo-Nazi or the "Trench Coat Mafia" of columbine more attention than anyone would care to give them if they hadn't killed anyone.
Matt, Phoenix, AZ USA

The problems with school shooting or armed robberies are ones that can't be solved with stronger gun control laws
Karl Anderson, Northfield, MN
As a 20 year old gun owner and hunter, coming from a long history of gun owners in my family, these are the events that give guns a bad name. Events like this and those six years ago sadden me, yet make me realize even more this is not a gun control problem. The problems with school shooting or armed robberies are ones that can't be solved with stronger gun control laws. This young man who shot his classmates was to get this gun no matter what; the gun was a legal gun, owned by his grandfather, a police officer. The only illegal thing this boy did was to shoot his classmates, and this is not a problem of gun control. It is a problem that Indian reservations across the country face, problems that stem from substance abuse and poor role models in their communities.
Karl Anderson, Northfield, MN, USA

Contrary to what is shown on the television, many Americans do teach their children about gun safety, respect, anger management and effective conflict resolution (I have never been shot at). However, I do believe that there are segments of the population who feel very desperate and turn to violence to solve their problems. Our administration needs to address issues such as workmen's compensation, universal healthcare and unemployment benefits in order to provide a cushion for the at-risk citizens.
Marie, Tampa, FL, USA

It's not the fault of guns, society, violent media, the parents, the school, the school district, the city, the state, or anyone else. Sometimes a person makes a decision to throw it all away and take out his rage on others. Sometimes a person breaks inside and there's nothing you can do about it.
Matt, Houston, Texas

Until the US government denies the right of its citizens to bear arms against its own people then sadly this will not be the last incident where firearms are involved. You cannot shoot anyone if you do not have a gun - as simple as that!
Kevin, England

The UK also has social problems and poverty, but you don't see kids going to school and shooting people - why? Because they don't have access to guns. OK, they might take out their anger or frustration in other ways, but at least they don't have the ability to kill a whole bunch of innocent people in a matter of minutes. For a country that claims to have the protection of its citizens as a top priority, the right to bear arms seems contradictory.
Rich, Glasgow, UK

Stricter laws are not needed, enforce the ones already in existence
Al, USA
First, I am not and have never been a NRA member. But a gun is like a hammer. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. The nail is driven into the wood by a person using a hammer. Stricter laws are not needed, enforce the ones already in existence. Educate the people about fire arms. Because a few people use a gun and kill people, why should all legal law abiding people have their rights taken away? The list of weapons used to kill could go on forever. Where is the public outcry about nukes? The nukes would kill more people at one time than any firearm would. Lay a loaded pistol on a table and watch it. It will never fire until the "human element" becomes involved. So quit saying guns kill. They don't, people kill, using any available weapon they can get their hands on.
Al, USA

I worked at a camp for four years, now I may only be 19 but on the front lines with these kids I saw a terrible decline. Parents in America don't have (or won't make) the time to take care of their kids, and so they lack guidance. I was fortunate enough to have parents who valued bringing me up themselves and not shipping me off to day care for twelve hours a day. Parents don't need to look any further than their own home to find an answer to the question "why did this happen?" Quality family time has taken a backseat to high pay and status symbols. Spend time with kids, support them and show them that they are not alone. Even at 19 I look to my parents for help and they give it, but some 10 year olds look for help and advice and there is no one there for them.
Andrew Chandler, Ithaca, NY USA

Everyone is talking about gun control but these guns were taken from the grandfather of the shooter and the grandfather was a police officer. Even if guns were banned, the police would still have them and this would still have happened.
Mike, Austin, TX

News like this makes me drop to my knees in horror and sadness and, of course, prayer. I graduated in 1971 and can't imagine attending school with the thought that something like this could possibly happen. We prayed in school - no one was against it - maybe it's time to begin again? Just say "no" to drugs and guns. Our lawmakers are doing us an injustice. Will the violence ever end? It does not appear so. My prayers go out to all families - something is missing in our foundation - maybe it is time to look to the heavens. Nothing else is working. Enough is enough.
Gloria, Petersburg, VA

These acting-out incidents are like the tip of an iceberg of social-rot
Joe Moran, Boise ID USA
The US has become the most dysfunctional society in the western world because of the greed and corruption of its politicians and the corruption in its judicial/ legal system and law enforcement. These "acting-out" incidents are like the tip of an iceberg of "social-rot." Those afflicted with poverty suffer the most.
Joe Moran, Boise ID USA

I remember Columbine like it was yesterday. I still get chills driving by the high school. I have had my daughter threatened with murder at a former school. Unfortunately this situation exists even in the smallest communities. My heart and prayers go out to the school community in MN. They will never get over this. Kids need a good support system. Unfortunately the evidence in almost every case is that kids are picked on, parents aren't involved, and guns are easily available. It is truly a recipe for disaster.
Carol Alexander, Denver, Colorado

I live 30 minutes from the Red Lake Indian Reservation. A few things you may not know is one, Red Lake Nation is a sovereign nation. And two, the guns the boy used were police issued. His grandfather was a police man. He killed him with his own gun, and drove his police car to the school. No amount of regulation would have kept a Red Lake Police officer unarmed.
Jay, Bemidji, MN

It is concerning that guns are the focus here, not violence. Disturbed people will do disturbing things, with or without guns. I see to recall a British teenager murdering elderly people with an axe because he thought he was a vampire. Should we ban axes to all those except who have farms? Where should the line be drawn? Why is crime rising in Britain and Australia where there are no handguns? Consider different questions, instead of pointing the finger in different directions.
Matthew P., Knoxville, TN, USA

Seems to me we no longer see the signals or read the signs
A Cristina, Windsor, USA
Is there a pattern here? What are these shootings telling us? As individuals and society, are we failing our youth? Seems to me we no longer see the signals or read the signs, we're blind to explosions waiting to happen and fail to identify and address the anger, fears, frustrations and hurts of youth traumatized by a social order no longer in order and a world in chaos. Many young people adapt, others find acceptable escapes, still others desensitize themselves to their hurts, and others blow a fuse. We are failing our youth - traumatized youth lacking all support. We ourselves are no longer sensitive enough, aware enough, perhaps concerned enough. Or perhaps we're simply too busy!
A Cristina, Windsor, USA

Guns, pistols should be banned. Period.
Jovlen, Richmond, CA

Since the guns used in this murderous rage were from his Grandfather, who is a Policeman. What a world it would be with cops without guns. Some people want to disarm an entire nation which I think is unbelievably foolish and naive.
Chris Kivi, Toronto, Canada

I am a senior in high school and I personally do not fear for my safety. Although, this probably has more to do with Massachusetts' stricter gun laws and the fact that in Massachusetts (as the sign on Fenway Park proclaims) "you're more likely to live here" thanks to our tough gun laws. Other states should follow suit.
Pat Burgwinkle, Lancaster, MA

Just last week, days prior to this tragedy, there was another high school shooting in my neighbourhood. This one involved a 16-year-old girl who was shot in the head and died in the hospital over the weekend. These are major signs of a society on a decline but the current administration is more worried about passing its social security proposals and allocating more money into a war with no end.
Zendi, Los Angeles, USA

As a former teacher for 36 years in a small town, I see a real dilemma for school officials. How can you effectively ensure safety for all your students while at the same time allowing parents and residents of the community to have open access to their school? Open doors to parents and interested community members have always been an important part of education in small town America. But I fear the time has come when school and community officials must rethink this concept.
Ken Anderson, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA

As a gun owner and 'liberal', I find it sad that in the midst of so much tragedy the two sides are simply shouting at each other. Clearly the answer lies somewhere between the NRA's insistence on cultural issues and the anti-gunners' seething focus on blaming a tool for the mistakes of its owners. It seems clear both sides are so intent on their own agendas they have little time for reasonable compromise.
Sean M. Dineen, Austin, Texas

What on earth do we expect from our children when we cram violence down their throats on a regular basis? Video games, television, movies - come on, it's everywhere these kids look.
Toni, Port St Lucie, Florida, USA

We must learn all we can from this tragedy for our present and future generations to survive
Barb Blackdeer-Mackenzie, WI
The young man was obviously very troubled - with one invalid parent and another who committed suicide. In my own community, (and it is not just Native Americans) inhalants, over-the-counter medications, meth-amphetamines, cigarettes, alcohol, and poor choices are aggravating an already difficult time in life - the 'tween and teen years. As a mother, educator, school board member and concerned community member of Native America, I believe that we must learn all we can from this tragedy for our present and future generations to survive. My deepest sympathy goes to Jeff's remaining relatives, the Red Lake Reservation, the Chippewa Nation and all who are affected by this tragedy.
Barb Blackdeer-Mackenzie, Black River Falls, WI

Red Lake is one of the reservations that does not benefit greatly from Indian Gaming and the living conditions are deplorable. There were obviously larger issues here than access to guns. What we need to look at is the lack of funding American schools are getting causing school psychologists and other support staff to be scarce.
Laura, Minnesota, USA

This is a tragic event. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this heartbreaking massacre. Many of us realise that something must be done about the gun laws. However, I think it more appropriate to show sympathy for the victims than to join in yet another round of America and Bush bashing.
Bryan, USA

Even though I am definitely NOT an advocate of the Second Amendment, gun control and availability are only part of the problem. School climate and societal values play just as large, if not bigger, a part of this issue that has remained grossly unaddressed. As in Columbine, this horrific act was perpetrated by an individual who was had a difficult life and who did not have a safety net. They fell through the cracks and found solace in ideas that many find radical and repulsive because these individuals felt that they had nothing to lose.
Melissa Pond, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

With every right comes a responsibility
Roland, UK
I'm a teacher in the UK, where guns are not freely available. It's amazing the number of times I have not been shot at. And they say gun availability is not the issue. With every right comes a responsibility - in this case to control their use by school kids or in fact their use by anyone at all. This is something that America seems unable to recognise.
Roland, UK

Most of America knows no different than to arm themselves. It's in no ones commercial interest for them to disarm either. It's a sorry state of affairs when these events happen. They do and will continue to until a total ban. That will never happen so America will have to get used to it and those that don't want to are going to have to shout louder and tell their representatives how they feel and what it will take to get their vote.
LD, Sheffield, England

It's not the guns, or the kid, it's our "kick 'em when they're down" society and laws. Let's stop handing out Prozac and fix our schools, our communities, and ourselves. The kids deserve better then this.
Ozzy, Baltimore, MD

People need to know that this shooting occurred on a Native American reservation. They make their own rules for the most part, so changing laws in U.S. would have little effect on what happens in there.
Mark, Michigan

In a world where the president of the United States fights his battles with violence and weapons it is of no surprise, though much to my dismay, that impressionable minds follow suit.
Michael Oliver, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A

We rush to save a brain damaged woman from dying a peaceful death, but do nothing when ten children are massacred by a gun-toting maniac
Katie, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Once again our nation has accepted that "the right to bear arms' is a necessary right, one that if taken away, would be un-American. What a senseless tragedy. As a Minnesotan and American, I am so saddened and ashamed that once again the US makes the news for senseless gun violence. I am completely aware of social conditions on reservations; however, they are no excuse for a suicidal outcast to go on a killing spree. Whether one lives on a reservation or in Beverly Hills, we must realize that our gun laws are ludicrous and demand action to be taken. Do not blame poverty or social conditions! Blame our attitudes, lack of parenting, and right-wing politicians who cannot grasp the notion of a US without guns. We rush to save a brain damaged woman from dying a peaceful death, but do nothing when ten children are massacred by a gun-toting maniac. God bless America.
Katie, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

If people bring their children up playing with toy replicas of firearms, is there no wonder that all these horrors happen? Teach children to respect guns, otherwise it won't just be plastic ones they are firing at your head.
Sian, Stanley

What also worries me about this is that whatever happens in America is seen as 'cool' by our British youth. I grew up on a council estate in England that I would be scared to venture onto nowadays. It's utterly futile telling Americans that they should reconsider their gun laws. There's just too much money to be made selling guns and in using them for crime (drugs, robberies, etc). Americans WON'T listen. They value money, wealth and status more than their kids freedom and rights to go to school safely.
J, Germany, ex UK

I'm afraid none of you have even the barest of understanding of social conditions on Indian Reservations in Canada and the US. Alcoholism, solvent abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence: all these plague their day to day lives. Also, the legal framework of these reservations (which straddle the US-Canada border) make their gun laws totally different. In short, beware of declaring this incident indicative of American society's relations with guns. It is (more likely) an indication of the social despair of life on reservations.
Kristian, Canada & UK

If the Americans don't want these things to happen they should take more notice of Michael Moore and once and for all do something to get rid of the power held by the big arms manufacturers.
B Barbey, Beauvais, France

Sadly, America's politicians will ignore this and make no effort to control guns; they'll probably blame it on movies or games. More children will get shot and the NRA will claim "guns don't kill people, people kill people". Very sad but very true.
Gareth, Amsterdam, NL

The fault is ours for generating a society in which only a few people matter
Allie, North Carolina, USA
Gun crimes can happen anywhere, since crime and criminals are so mobile (not that I want to give up the right to move freely) and violent images in the media provide unstable individuals with undesirable "role models." Yes, we should fear for our children, but not just because of the threat of violence. Misinformation about potentially deadly illnesses contracted through unsafe sex, lead in peeling paint, unreasonable pressure to accomplish at 15 what their elders couldn't do at 30 - we need to fear these too. The fault is ours for generating a society in which only a few people "matter" and most of the rest are valued on the basis of how much money we can make off of them.
Allie, North Carolina, USA

America has learnt the hard way yet again that guns are not needed to make a civilised caring society.
Darren, Basingstoke, UK

As families and teachers we need to work together with students to form a caring school culture where violence is unacceptable and bringing guns to schools is unthinkable. The lack of moral imagination is not surprising in a society where television, movies and video games frequently depict violence as a first option for conflict resolution.
Joseph Rapai, Ontario, Canada

Lash out at the most convenient scapegoat - law abiding American gun owners
Richard, Phoenix AZ
The victims and their families are in our hearts. Unfortunately, now the predictable calls from politicians and pressure groups for "assault weapon" bans will begin. The majority of people will not ask whether any ban would have made a difference (probably not - it didn't at Columbine). What people want to do right now is lash out at the most convenient scapegoat - law abiding American gun owners. It would be nice for the media to report on the many instances in the US where citizens carrying legally-licensed concealed handguns have stopped such outrages before they became newsworthy unfortunately, these stories do not fit the stereotype of the preferred "guns bad" story the press like to run with. Sigh.
Richard, Phoenix AZ

I come to wonder what rock group/film/video game will be blamed for this one. No doubt the NRA will find a suitable scapegoat soon enough, and somehow find a way to convince the American people that the way to end school shootings is by allowing more people to own guns, and reduce legislation on gun ownership and safety. Still, at least the American's are "free". Gee, I sure wish I could be as "free" as them and worry about sending my child to school for fear of being shot.
Scott Cheadle, Zurich - Brit ex-pat

My friends from the USA tell me that they often get their guns at the age of ten. The situation is out of control. Living in Israel/Palestine we have different type of violence. When I go to school I am scared of being blown up in a bomb (one blew up just outside once).
Eid Jadon, Jerusalem

There is no political will to address poverty and racism just endless talk about values
Scott, Cass Lake, USA<
I grew up on a reservation very close to Red Lake. Let me tell you:

1) it's extremely impoverished, with all the predictable social ills that usually accompany poverty;
2) Natives have to endure racism on a regular basis in the local towns and schools; and
3) there is no political will to address either of these problems (poverty and racism), just endless talk about "values."

What kind of message does the US send these days regarding the resolution of disputes? It sure isn't a message of peace.
Scott, Cass Lake, USA

The problem is that children are taught gun handling using toy guns and wrong movies at a tender age.
Haggai, Sichalwe, Lusaka, Zambia.

Is it just me or are we not bringing our children up correctly? There is something seriously wrong with society these days.
Marc, London

Whilst this is a terribly sad situation this will continue to happen unless American gets to grip with its gun laws and makes access to guns much more difficult.
Peregrine, London

Insane American firearms laws make it easy for mass murder to be carried out by a teenager in a school
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham
What a difference a day makes! 24 hours ago George Bush was breaking into his holiday to sign legislation to prevent a brain damaged woman from dying with dignity. Today the insane American firearms laws make it easy for mass murder to be carried out by a teenager in a school. No sign of rushing to ban the population from bearing arms though. Such are the twisted morals of American politicians.
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham





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