The Sandy Hook and Guang Shan Primary School Massacres of 2012

Kids names in henan
Kids in Henan's Massacre

This is so weird… was the first thing I thought when I heard the news about these two schools which are a world apart, but share have shared a similar fate. With social media abound, we can feel weird about both of these unbelievable acts at the same time. And although that’s remarkable, it begs deeper questions of these two very different countries which have so much in common.

Almost immediately after the shooting at Sandy Hook there were renewed calls for gun control measures in the US. This is an obvious reaction within an elected-representative system. But politicians in American have a big challenge ahead of them. They know further gun control will only anger the people who already own guns and treat the 2nd Amendment as scripture. Opponents of gun control think it’s too late to do anything about the millions of guns already in circulation. I also think that widespread gun control isn’t the answer- So what can be done?

Across the world, China just had a primary school massacre in Henan province which involved a deranged man with a knife. 22 children were severely injured… Similar attacks occurred in 2010. It’s unclear if this kind of thing happened before Chinese Twitter arrived because news outlets are always censored when sensitive events occur in China. Although I’ve never heard of anyone getting checked, it is said that authorities started requiring registration when people buy cleavers and other large knives… but anyone who wants to get a knife can find one- So what can be done?

Henan Boy in Hospital
Henan Boy in Hospital

Although modern forms of media have given us the ability to hear about Everything the Moment it happens, there is nothing fundamentally different about the world we live in today. Horrible things happen everyday and, due to a booming world population, you should expect more of these things to happen. I’m sure fewer incidents occurred when there was only 1 billion people on the planet. Now we are a global community of over 6 billion. Another reality is that guns and knives have been in society for all of modern history. Nothing has changed.

The underlying issue seems to stem from culture and education. For instance, tackling bullying at school in America should be a major priority and I believe it is already taken very seriously. Providing better counselling to young Chinese would help prevent the situation there. In China, one attack in 2010 came from a man who wanted to save  children from the hells of modern society because he had felt enslaved by the demands of this modern world. Due to skyrocketing house prices in China, anyone born after 1980 will almost certainly have to work until 40 or 50 just to finish making payments on their apartment. This kind of future makes life seem very bleak for young Chinese entering the workforce, especially those from the poorer countryside.

There are issues to be faced in both America and China. I hope lawmakers are realistic about the laws they pass. They need to remember that the issues are deep and can’t be solved with superficial layers of bureaucracy. If you are still reading, Thank You. What do you suggest we do that would help these immediate and long term issues?

  • saba

    What a great perspective. This event is not a trauma that is unique to Americans — the tragedy is something that we all face. The solutions may be local, but the sadness is global.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Saba, it really is an issue facing the world. I wish it was something else that brought us all closer together… but this time it has come from a tragedy.