The shooting at a Sydney high school on Friday, which left 14 dead and 21 wounded, could be a textbook example of mass shootings in Australia.
The shooting happened just hours after the nation’s parliament was due to vote on a controversial law to toughen restrictions on guns and expand the number of firearms allowed in the country.
But with the country facing a surge in gun violence, some academics and academics say it is vital that we rethink the way we approach our gun laws.
The latest research suggests that schools should be prepared to handle mass shootings as a matter of course.
“I think there are lessons here that we can apply to all of our schools,” says Mark Macdonald, an associate professor of criminology at the University of New South Wales and the author of The Gun and the Criminal: Why the Australian Minds and the Gun Laws that Created Them.
He is the author, along with his wife, of Gunfight: The Real-Life Story of a Mass Shooting.
Macdonald says he and his colleagues are concerned that while schools have been busy with safety and security, the focus on mass shootings is a “double-edged sword” and they have been neglecting to prepare students for the risk.
In Australia, mass shootings are becoming more frequent.
The last school shooting occurred in 2013, when six people were killed at a Melbourne school, including the gunman.
But in the United States, mass killings have been on the decline since the mid-1990s.
Despite the decline, the majority of mass killings happen in rural areas, where people fear the consequences of a mass shooting.
There have been several recent mass shootings, but Macdonald says the “main thing we’ve noticed” is that they happen in urban areas.
The number of people who have died in mass shootings has been declining in the past year, he says, partly because of the increased surveillance measures introduced after the Newtown school shooting.
Macdonald said the current wave of mass shooters has raised concerns for many Australians.
“We are seeing more and more mass shootings every day,” he said.
“It’s not just happening in Australia but also in Europe and the US.
It’s not the only thing.
We’ve also seen shootings that are happening in the US, in the UK, and in Germany.”
MacDonald said schools should have a proactive approach to dealing with shootings, even if they are not a priority for them.
It is essential that we understand that it is a risk to the whole community and not just the one individual, he said, noting that “there are many factors that contribute to a high rate of suicide among young people.”
The Australian Government said it was working with the states to increase the number and scope of gun-free zones and training facilities in schools.
National Minister for Education, James Merlino, said the country was seeing an increase in the number, but he cautioned that “schools are not the place to discuss these things with a parent, but to work together with local communities and families to prevent future incidents.”
Macdon said there was no one-size-fits-all approach to the issue of schools, but the importance of educating students about the risks of guns should be a “top priority.”
“If we’re going to be a world leader in education and safety, we’ve got to take into account that the risk to everyone is higher than the risk of one individual,” he says.
Follow Josh Gasser on Twitter: @joshgasser