Tuesday morning a young woman walked onto the YouTube campus in San Bruno, Calif., and shot three people before turning her 9mm pistol on herself. If one has been paying any attention to the news the past few weeks, two points should have stuck out.
The weapon was a pistol.
The shooter was a woman.
By Wednesday morning, CBS News was reporting the woman had told her family she was unhappy with YouTube rules changes that caused videos she posted to earn less money than she was used to.
Twenty shots fired, three people plus the shooter wounded – the latter fatally. Some might say things could have been worse had she used a military-style weapon. On the other hand, she reportedly got off 20 shots, probably meaning she had to reload at least once, and may have been a little familiar with the gun.
In comparison, Nickolas Cruz, reportedly using 10-shot clips in an AR-15 rifle, killed 17 people at the Parkland, Fla. high school. Was it the gun that killed the higher number, or Cruz’ practice with the weapon. He had a small arsenal at home. He shot regularly and was a member of a shooting club.
Which brings me to the questions I think we are not asking. I submit for possible discussion: Why are virtually all shooters young men? Why so many shootings at school? Why with military-style weapons?
Herewith, my observations.
We generally treat men as the tough guys. Men are soldiers and police. I know technically that’s not true, but when we think of our heroes, we think of men. When we talk about soldiers and marines in foreign shooting galleries, we don’t usually think about women. Even Leroy Jethro Gibbs treats his girls way differently than he does the men on his NCIS team.
On the television cop and soldier shows, the characters are men, with an occasional woman tossed in for love interest. There are a few exceptions, I guess, but generally, that’s accurate. And when it comes to the tough stuff, those tough guys are too often carrying AR-15- style weapons, and wearing cammies and masks over their faces.
OK, there are exceptions. Girls scream really well in horror flicks, but guys are increasingly in the screamer rolls. And girls are taking more assertive rolls in dangerous story situations. But generally, the old stereotypes with which I grew up still apply.
Which comes to why shoot up schools, and that’s probably the easiest question to answer. The woman shooter in California Tuesday went to the YouTube building where her boyfriend worked. The guy who shot up the concert in Las Vegas had been a long time out of school and if a workplace was mentioned, it did not take a large part of the story. The descriptor for such shootings was, for several years, “going postal” because the shooters had worked in the post office they shot up, and had a beef with their employer boss or other employees.
So it makes sense that a 19-year-old who’s been bullied most of his life, lost two sets of parents, and was expelled from school because of his misbehavior, would go back to the place central to his complaint to take out his frustrations.
None of which excuses what he did. But I would like to know what brought Nicholas Cruz to a point in his life where he decided the only way to be heard was to grab a semi-automatic rifle and kill 17 people. And why was no one paying attention before he got to that point?
We answer that and we will be on our way to ending such violence.