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Behind the Latest Mass-Shooting: The Hidden Role of the Pentagon, JROTC, and the NRA

February 16, 2018
David Swanson / David Swanson.org & Pat Elder / Counter-Recruit Press

The worst kept secret in our gun-mad and war-mad culture is that: "US mass-shooters are disproportionately veterans." Even in the latest tragedy, while the teenage shooter wasn't a military veteran, he was a veteran of his high school's Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. Promoted by the Pentagon and funded by the NRA, the JROTC trained Nikolas Cruz in marksmanship skills that were used to deadly effect on the grounds of the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.


Florida School Shooter's JROTC Took NRA Money,
Mass-killer 'Excelled at Marksmanship'

David Swanson / David Swanson.org

(February 14, 2018) -- In the US, 35% of mass shooters are military veterans, as compared with 14.76% in the general population for the same gender and age. (See documentation of this below._

First a couple of Tweets:

Now an image from: https://jrotceagles.com

Whether the latest school shooter's participation in a JROTC program that took NRA money and trained in marksmanship contributed to the shooting or not, it is symptomatic of a culture in which many schools are forgetting that The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Is Not a Substitute for Education. [See story below. -- EAW.]

The worst kept secret in our gun-mad and war-mad culture is that US Mass Shooters Are Disproportionately Veterans.

Are veterans of the US military disproportionately likely to be mass killers in the United States? Asking such a question is difficult, first because of concerns of profiling, discrimination, etc., and second, because it’s hard to answer.

It's important to answer because it's important for us to know whether military training is contributing to this epidemic, a fact that (one must rush to say) would not somehow eliminate the roles played by gender, guns, mental illness, domestic violence, a violent culture, the mass media, economic inequality, or anything else.

Looking at this list of mass shootings in the United States, one notices the following:

* ninety-eight percent of the shootings were done by male shooters;

* the vast majority had mental health problems;

* the racial breakdown looks roughly equivalent to that in the population as a whole;

* the creators of the list have not bothered to create a thorough record of which shooters had been in the military.

Beginning to sort out an answer, one quickly discovers that many mass-killings by veterans have been excluded from this list. World War II veteran Howard Barton Unruh killed 13 people in 1949 in New Jersey, but that was too early to make it onto this list. Persian Gulf veteran Timothy McVeigh killed 168 in Oklahoma City in 1995 but didn’t use guns.

Persian Gulf veteran Robert Flores shot his three nursing professors in Tucson, Arizona, in 2002, but only killings of four or more have been included. The same restriction keeps out US Marine Corps veteran Radcliffe Haughton’s killing of three women in Wisconsin in 2012.

Even the D.C. sniper, Persian Gulf veteran John Allen Muhammad, who killed 17 in the Washington, D.C., area in 2002, with a partner, and using guns, is not included -- perhaps because he didn’t kill all of his victims at once.

Proceeding with this list nonetheless, we should be able to determine what percentage of the shooters on the list are veterans, and then compare that to the general population. But how exactly do we do that? It would be crazy to look at figures for the general population as opposed to those for men only, because the percentages of men and of women who are veterans are very different.

And even looking at men only, the percentage who are veterans in the US population varies dramatically by age group. Almost all of the shooters are men, and almost all of them are between ages 18 and 59. Above age 59, the percentage of men in the general population who are veterans leaps up dramatically. Between 18 and 59 -- by averaging the percentages for each age year -- about 14.76 percent of US men are veterans.

What percentage of US mass shooters who are men between 18 and 59 are veterans? Deleting two shootings from the list that were done by females, and one that was done by a man and a woman, and deleting eight done by men too old or young to fall into our sample, we're left with 83 mass shootings to look at. I then delete one that was an attack on the US military by a foreign-born shooter, as it seems irrelevant to ask if that shooter had been in the US military. That leaves a list of 82 shootings.

In quickly reading available news reports online about each shooting, I see that almost all of the shooters were born in the United States. And I am leaving in the sample list those few that were foreign born, even including some who could not legally have joined the US military had they wanted to. And I am not attempting to find out which shooters received military training from some military other than the US I am also leaving on the list those who said their motivation for shooting was revenge for US wars.

And I’m leaving on the list but not counting as veterans two men who tried to join the US military and were rejected, as well as one who worked at a US Navy base but apparently not as a member of the Navy. I am leaving on the list and counting one whose military training was in JROTC, and about whom I do not know whether he had further military training.

Following a quick search of 82 shootings on the internet, I’ve been able to find that at least 29 of the shooters had been in the US military (again, including the JROTC in one case). On the other side, I've been able to confirm very few of the shooters as having not been in the military. In several cases I've had to read several articles before finding a mention of the military.

In no case have I found a mention of having not been in the military. This leads me to strongly suspect that the number 29 undercounts the number of veterans in the sample. Nonetheless, that's 35% of US mass shooters who are military veterans, as compared with 14.76% in the general population for the same gender and age. In other words, veterans are over twice as likely to be mass shooters, and probably more likely than that.

Needless to say, this is a statistic about a large population, not information about any particular individual. Needless to say, profiling and discrimination are counterproductive.

But here's what else might be counterproductive:
Training people in the arts of mass murder, launching wars, and dropping people trained for wars and having suffered through wars into a heavily armed society full of economic insecurity and the industrialized world's leading lack of healthcare.

Of course it's possible that people inclined toward mass shootings are also inclined to join the military, that the relationship is a correlation and not a cause. In fact, I would be shocked if there wasn’t some truth to that.

But it's also possible that being trained and conditioned and given a familiarity with mass shootings -- and in some cases no doubt an experience of engaging in mass shooting and having it deemed acceptable -- makes one more likely to mass shoot. I cannot imagine there isn't truth in that.

Here are the shootings by veterans on this list:
Texas First Baptist Church massacre,
Florida awning manufacturer shooting,
Fort Lauderdale airport shooting,
Baton Rouge police shooting,
Dallas police shooting,
Umpqua Community College shooting,
Trestle Trail bridge shooting,
Fort Hood shooting 2,
Washington Navy Yard shooting,
Sikh temple shooting,
Seal Beach shooting,
Fort Hood massacre,
Carthage nursing home shooting,
Northern Illinois University shooting,
Damageplan show shooting,
Wakefield massacre,
Caltrans maintenance yard shooting,
Fort Lauderdale revenge shooting,
Air Force base shooting,
Luigi's shooting,
Watkins Glen killings,
Royal Oak postal shootings,
Luby's massacre,
ESL shooting,
United States Postal Service shooting,
San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre,
Welding shop shooting,
Xerox killings, and
Seattle cafe shooting.

Here are the shootings on this list that I have not been able to determine were by veterans:
Walmart shooting in suburban Denver,
Edgewood business park shooting,
San Francisco UPS shooting,
Pennsylvania supermarket shooting,
Rural Ohio nursing home shooting,
Fresno downtown shooting,
Excel Industries mass shooting,
Kalamazoo shooting spree,
Planned Parenthood clinic,
Colorado Springs shooting rampage,
Charleston Church Shooting,
Isla Vista mass murder,
Hialeah apartment shooting,
Santa Monica rampage,
Pinewood Village Apartment shooting,
Sandy Hook Elementary massacre,
Accent Signage Systems shooting,
Aurora theater shooting,
Oikos University killings,
Su Jung Health Sauna shooting,
IHOP shooting,
Hartford Beer Distributor shooting,
Coffee shop police killings,
Atlantis Plastics shooting,
Kirkwood City Council shooting,
Crandon shooting,
Virginia Tech massacre,
Amish school shooting,
Capitol Hill massacre,
Living Church of God shooting,
Lockheed Martin shooting,
Hotel shooting,
Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting,
Atlanta day trading spree killings,
Connecticut Lottery shooting,
R.E. Phelon Company shooting,
Walter Rossler Company massacre,
Chuck E. Cheese's killings,
Long Island Rail Road massacre,
101 California Street shootings,
Lindhurst High School shooting,
University of Iowa shooting,
GMAC massacre,
Standard Gravure shooting,
Stockton schoolyard shooting,
Shopping centers spree killings,
Orlando nightclub massacre,
Binghamton shootings,
Trolley Square shooting,
Dallas nightclub shooting,
Tucson shooting,
Westroads Mall shooting,
Cascade Mall shooting.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director ofWorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
Is Not a Substitute for Education

Pat Elder / Counter-Recruit Press

(February 16, 2017) -- In the following excerpt from Military Recruiting in the United States, Pat Elder discusses how many states allow Army instructors to replace teachers in "educating students."

The Army is specifically asking schools to allow its untrained instructors to meet the curricular requirements of physical education, performing arts, practical arts, civics, health, and government within the confines of its Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. Where is the public indignation? Where are the unions? The policy is causing an academic train wreck.

Florida allows JROTC to substitute for physical science, biology, practical arts, and life management skills. For instance, students at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Florida who take JROTC for two years satisfy both the physical education and fine arts requirements for graduation.

It's deeply troubling that state schools throw the arts under the bus in favor of classes that foster strait-jacketed military indoctrination.

At Spaulding High School in Barre, Vermont, students may satisfy a .5 credit requirement for US government by taking JROTC for a semester. The kids in Vermont may never come to understand the phrase, "We the People."

It's the same at Eagleville High School in Eagleville, Tennessee. The Volunteer State provides a glimpse into how the process of accepting JROTC as a legitimate academic course works.

In Tennessee students may substitute:
* Two credits of JROTC for one credit of wellness required for graduation.
* Three credits of JROTC for one-half unit of United States Government required for graduation.
* Three credits of JROTC for one-half unit of Personal Finance.

Tennessee education officials deliberated on the changes in 2014 pertaining to substituting JROTC for the required and rather complex Personal Finance course standards along with the efficacy of allowing military retirees without an appropriate subject credential to teach the contents of the course, rather than state-certified teachers.

The record from the Tennessee State Board of Education provides insight into their decision to grant the waiver:
In order to determine the best policy option to address this discrepancy, the Department of Education reviewed the Personal Finance course standards, researched the JROTC programs in Tennessee, and met with supervisors and teachers of multiple JROTC programs across the state. The Department found that JROTC instructors could meet all of the Personal Finance course requirements within the third year of JROTC, if they have received training on the Personal Finance course requirements.

The measure was adopted. Aside from JROTC instructors, all other teachers must be licensed to teach Personal Finance. Only teachers who are certified in Economics, Business, Marketing, and Family and Consumer Sciences meet the employment standards.

Personal finance is extraordinarily important in the lives of American school children. We examined the complexity of the Military Enlistment/ Re-enlistment Contract in the 1st chapter and the genesis of a culture that produces high school graduates who cannot understand or negotiate the complex contracts and agreements that increasingly run their lives.

Tennessee's Personal Finance Course Standards are quite impressive and cover, in detail, subjects including: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) credit card agreements, consumer protection standards, writing argumentative essays, consumer credit, investment strategies, and identity theft, to mention a small sampling. Army Instructors without the necessary professional training and credentials are unqualified to teach Personal Finance.

In 2014, California became the first state to allow JROTC instructors to apply for official authorization to teach physical education in their JROTC classes. The measure was strongly opposed by PE teachers, who saw the act as an affront to their profession.

All California students must take a minimum number of PE classes; whereas JROTC is an elective. Students often register for PE to satisfy graduation requirements, rather than registering for the military course. Allowing JROTC instructors to teach PE provides a new lease on life for JROTC. Instructors must pass two tests, one in basic academic skills and another in knowledge of physical education.

An examination of high school PE and JROTC classes, by Kathryn Anne Holt and others of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, compared four JROTC classes with four PE classes, and found that students were engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity 60% of the time in physical education and 24% of the time in JROTC.

SHAPE America, The Society of Health and Physical Educators, is the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals. The group is committed to insuring that all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. SHAPE calls on school districts to prohibit students from substituting JROTC for PE class time or credit requirements.

Meanwhile, the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition prominently cites several disturbing statistics on its website:
* Only one in three children are physically active every day.
* More than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.
* Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video games, computer).
* Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.

Nonetheless, 23 states allow JROTC to take the place of physical education classes: AL, AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IA, KY, LA, MA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, OH, SC, TN, TX, WV, and WI.

Eleven of the states are from the old south, a region of the country steeped in military traditions. The region also boasts the most overweight population in the country. Mississippi, for instance, is "the fattest state again," according to the Washington Examiner.

Eight of the ten "fattest states" in the nation allow students to skip PE classes in favor of JROTC.

Responsible school systems do not grant physical education credit for JROTC. This practice serves the narrow interests of the military but fails to address many of the standards, indicators, and objectives of physical education curricula. PE standards encompass exercise physiology, biomechanics, social psychology, and motor learning. There are numerous cross-curricular connections among PE and other disciplines.

Like the ASVAB Career Exploration Program and other recruiting operations in the schools, JROTC is extraordinarily deceptive. Military programs would be less welcome in the schools if the Pentagon fessed up about its true intentions.

The Army describes the JROTC program this way:
JROTC is a program offered to high schools that teaches students character education, student achievement, wellness, leadership, and diversity. It is a cooperative effort between the Army and the high schools to produce successful students and citizens, while fostering in each school a more constructive and disciplined learning environment.

The outcomes of the JROTC program are:
* Act with integrity and personal accountability as they lead others to succeed in a diverse and global workforce
* Engage civic and social concerns in the community, government, and society
* Graduate prepared to excel in post-secondary options and career pathways
* Make decisions that promote positive social, emotional, and physical health
* Value the role of the military and other service organizations

JROTC is marketed as some sort of value-driven social work program for segments of society that need remedial courses in things like character, emotional development, and personal integrity. High school websites that describe the program routinely say JROTC is not a recruiting program.

Elda Pema and Stephen Mehay, researchers from the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, recognize JROTC as a program that trains youth for military service. They wrote:
Although it is similar to vocational education and School to Work programs, JROTC has been overlooked by education researchers. This oversight may stem from the perception that military science classes represent extracurricular activities that do not affect employment, a perception fostered by the US Department of Education's classification of high school military science classes as 'enrichment/ other' rather than vocational education (Levesque et al., 2000).

This designation contradicts the Department of Education's own definition of career technical education as classes that teach skills required in specific occupations or occupational clusters.

More important, this classification misrepresents the scope and content of JROTC. The curriculum, the use of military instructors, and the close link with the employer are clear indicators of the program's vocational orientation.

Military science 'concentrators' (students with at least 3.0 Carnegie credits) receive an advanced pay grade if they enlist. About 40% of such concentrators enter the military (Taylor, 1999), which is similar to the 43% of vocational students who find jobs in training-related civilian occupations (Bishop, 1989).

Copyright (2016) by Pat Elder. Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website Counter-Recruit.org, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.




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