For Release: Thursday, April 24, 2003
Second School Shooting in as Many Weeks
Firearm Murder-Suicide Claimed 37 Lives in Pennsylvania in First Half of 2001, Violence Policy Center Report, American Roulette, Reveals
WASHINGTON, DC – Today’s firearm murder-suicide involving a student shooting his principal and then himself at Red Lion Area Jr. High in south-central Pennsylvania is yet another disturbing example of the continued torment easy access to firearms brings to our nation, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) stated today.
Firearms play a unique and deadly facilitating role in murder-suicide according to the 2002 VPC study American Roulette: The Untold Story of Murder-Suicide in the United States. Based on news clips nationwide, the analysis is the largest and most comprehensive study ever conducted on murder-suicide. The study found that at least 662 Americans died in murder-suicides during the first half of 2001, and almost all (94.5 percent) were killed with firearms. Using these figures, more than 1,300 Americans die each year in murder-suicides. Pennsylvania was one of only seven states that had more than 10 murder-suicides during the study period. The study notes that murder-suicides range from high-profile mass shootings like the April 20, 1999, Columbine massacre to familial shootings claiming the lives of spouses and offspring.
VPC Communications Director Naomi Seligman states, “In the past two weeks, we have seen American schools shaken by an assault rifle shooting among students and now a handgun murder-suicide involving a student and his principal. The common thread that binds each of these cases is the unique and destructive lethality of these weapons.”
Bryan Miller, executive director of CeaseFire PA adds, “Today’s horrific shooting makes clear that we cannot, and will not, accept these tragedies, and the effect they have on our schools and communities, as part of our lives. And we are here to make sure of that.”