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Gun Violence in the United States 5

In September 1982, George Banks, 40 a prison guard went on a rampage using an AR-15 automatic assault rifle killing thirteen persons including seven children; five of his own, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received the death penalty but the sentence was overturned in 2010 as he was declared incompetent to be executed by a County Judge after a competency hearing the previous month. During his trial, Banks insisted on testifying himself, against his lawyer's advice, stating that he wasn't insane, but his ramblings during the trial appeared to prove otherwise even though the jury convicted him of his crimes and not of being insane.

On July 18, 1984 in the San Diego, California neighborhood of San Ysidro, a man opened fire at a MacDonald's restaurant killing sixteen adults and five children as well as injuring nineteen others. James Oliver Huberty an unemployed father of two was responsible for the rampage that was the deadliest in United States history up until that time and remains the deadliest shooting massacre in the US where the assailant didn't take his own life after the attack. Huberty was ultimately shot to death by a member of a police sniper team. The day prior to the shooting, Huberty made a phone call to a mental health center asking for an appointment but because he didn't express that there was a direct emergency, the call wasn't immediately returned. Earlier that day Huberty and his family went to the San Diego Zoo, stopping at a McDonald's restaurant to eat, then returned back home. According to his wife, later in the day Huberty's behavior seemed bizarre and he mentioned within their conversation that "Society had its chance." He later went out and when questioned by his wife as to where he was going responded that he was "hunting humans". A neighbor spotted Huberty on San Ysidro Boulevard carrying two firearms and called 911, but the dispatcher that received the call furnished the responding officers with an incorrect location.

Seven years later, the Luby's Cafeteria mass murder surpassed the death toll of the MacDonald's restaurant killings, resulting in a body count of twenty-three. In total fifty people were shot as George Hennard exchanged gunfire with responding law enforcement officers before he barricaded himself in a bathroom and ultimately took his own life. He was able to reload his weapons several times and still had a surplus of bullets when he decided to turn the gun on himself. The bloodbath took place on October 16, 1991, in Killeen, Texas. Hennard drove his 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the front window of a location of the well-known Cafeteria franchise chain which operates its locations mostly in Texas and has other franchises based in Oklahoma and Arkansas. He exited the vehicle screaming "This is what Bell County did to me!" as he opened fire with a Glock 17 pistol which he later replaced with a Ruger P89. Hennard killed ten of his twenty-three victims with one single head shot. Hennard was described as an angry, withdrawn man, with a dislike of women.

Before the twentieth century came to an end, two students fulfilled the deadliest attack ever committed at a high school in the United States. Since then, the word Columbine has become synonymous with school violence and massacre. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold met in 1996 when Harris's family bought a house just south of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado where they both became students. Before their now infamous attack, the two made a video called "Hitmen for Hire" as a school project, which showed them shooting imitation guns and "snuffing" out students in the school's hallways. The two displayed a dark side with themes of violence present in their creative writing projects written in early 1999, the same year that the massacre took place, Harris wrote a Doom-based tale, some of its content displaying "Bullet shells sprinkled the floor, on top of a carpet of blood," and "Arms, legs, and heads were tossed about as if a small child turned on a blender with no lid in the middle of a room". Noting that writings of this type were violent and dark, several school administrators were troubled by what was the positive reaction of teachers who read the apparent works of fiction. Commenting on the writing, one of Harris's teachers expressed: "Yours is a unique approach and your writing works in a gruesome way -- good details and mood setting." But although warning signs were exceedingly apparent, no steps were taken to examine the two boys to find out if their imaginations could play out into reality.

On April 20, 1999, Harris and Klebold murdered an overall total of twelve of their fellow students as well as one educator in a thirty-two minute spree. Twenty-seven additional people were injured during the calamity or while attempting to escape the school. The attack was planned in great detail involving a fire bomb which was placed in a field about three miles south of the school to sidetrack firefighters, propane tanks which were converted to bombs and then placed in the school cafeteria, besides a total of ninety-nine explosive devices, and bombs rigged in cars. Ultimately, the duo committed suicide. Patti Nielson, a teacher who made the original 911 call had locked herself inside a break room with one student and some of the library staff. She overheard Klebold and Harris abruptly yell in unison: "One! Two! Three!" These were the final words to be spoken by the two attackers as a volley of gunfire followed instantaneously thereafter. Harris used his shotgun by shooting himself through the roof of his mouth. Klebold used his TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, shooting himself in the left temple.

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