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The Maryland School Shooting; A Massive Tragedy Averted

         3/21/2018

Officer Blaine Gaskill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

On Tuesday morning, a police officer brought an end to what could have been a much bigger tragedy in Maryland. A 17-year-old shot two students at the Great Mills High School, and was then stopped by a school resource officer.

The details of the situation are still rather unclear, and no one is exactly sure of the student’s motive, but one of the victims had allegedly been in a relationship with the shooter. Thankfully, the only person thus far to have died was the shooter himself, but one of the students is in critical condition. The other student is in stable condition, and, though the shooter shot at officer Blaine Gaskill, he emerged from the engagement completely unharmed.

The shootout was extremely quick, with Gaskill responding in less than a minute, and both sides only exchanging one bullet each. It’s unclear if Gaskill’s bullet hit the shooter, or if the shooter killed himself, but the end result was the same nonetheless.

An armed school resource officer, Gaskill was in the same position as the officer who stood outside while Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students in Florida. Gaskill was praised by the sheriff for doing his job exactly as it was intended, and potentially saving the lives of many other students.

School shootings appear to be becoming increasingly common, and both sides seem to be concerned with the guns involved. Democrats believe these tragedies could be avoided if the weapons used by the shooters were simply illegal (like the shootings themselves), and Republicans want more armed and responsible gun owners to counteract the shootings, but there has been comparatively little talk about the causes as compared to the symptoms.

There is a definite correlation between a rise in mental health issues and school shootings. The problem is compounded by social isolation and ostracism, whose effects have been documented to increase the recipient’s support of ideologically extreme acts and violence. According to the American Psychological Association, ostracism and exclusion are processed in the same regions of the brain as physical pain and can lead to long-lasting resentment, suicidality, and violence. Teens are particularly vulnerable to this kind of silent emotional harm.

Still, until the root causes can be resolved, it is only logical to have someone available who is trained and trustworthy to mitigate the damage. There is no reason to believe the shooter would have stopped his rampage after killing those two students, and an off-location police response can take precious minutes during which many can be killed.

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