A Brief History
On July 26, 2016, a bizarre mass killing near Tokyo was reported in which a 26 year old man, a former employee of a facility for disabled people, went to that facility at 2:30 am local time on July 26, 2016 (still July 25 in Eastern Daylight Time) and killed 19 people with a knife and wounded about 26 more. Police arrived too late to stop the mayhem, and the perpetrator turned himself in at the local police department. Once again, we have tragic proof that a deranged person does not need a gun to commit mass murder, and once again, we have a sad occasion to prove that police cannot protect citizens. (Note: If you agree with this article, share it with your friends and blogs. If you disagree, please feel free to write in the comments section below the article your reasons for disagreement or things you believe the author got wrong.)
Despite ample evidence that gun control measures largely do not work, except to oppress the rights of law abiding citizens, in the United States we are experiencing another current (July 2019) round of demands for “gun control.” Media hysteria does not help, as shown by an article released today (July 26, 2019) by CNN that tells us that in the past 10 years there have been 180 shootings at US schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. The article boldly states that those 180 shooting incidents have claimed 356 victims. Yes, all 356 victims are people injured or killed in the incidents, but the impression purposely given to the reader without clearly saying so is that all those victims are not fatalities. While we believe any school student wounded by gunfire or hurt in the melee of a shooting incident in any way is sickening and a tragedy (not to mention the mental and emotional damage that may be done), openness and clarity are needed to understand and examine the problem of school shootings without misleading media attempts to drum up hysteria. In fact, 114 people died in those school shootings between 2009 and 2018, which is way too many deaths, but much less than the casual reader might infer from the headline. Often times the death or injury to the shooter or shooters is included in the tally, further inflating the horrific numbers splashed across the media.
Before we make rash decisions based on emotion and hysteria, we need to have some perspective. There are about 100,000 public schools in the United States, many more when private and parochial schools are added. Even using only public schools as our sample, this means that about .18% of US public schools were affected by a shooting incident of some kind over a 10 year span. That also means that in any given year, the chance of a school being affected by a shooting is about .018%. That means less than 1 in 500 schools was involved in a school shooting in a decade, and that in an average year, only less than 1 in 5000 US public schools is involved in a shooting. Also, there are 64 million K-12 students in the US, which means an average of 11.4 kids killed in school shootings per year, or in graphic perspective an American public school student has about a .0000178% chance of being killed in a school shooting. While even one child (or any person) shot at a school is too many, we must keep our eye on the reality of the situation and put our resources and energy into the most effective and efficient use of monetary and human resources to benefit our kids and our country. If we waste money and effort on hysteria about school shootings instead of other factors that are in fact much more dangerous to our kids, we risk missing the big picture and end up hurting our own kids! Knee jerk gun control measures that have absolutely no impact on the shootings that generate the proposals do not do us any real good, they are cosmetic and sometimes actually damaging actions instead of helping, as well as diverting money and effort from more effective measures. By merely watching the news you would think school shootings and other mass shootings were the #1 problem threatening American kids.
For example, while anti-gunners are often quoted as claiming 38,000 (or thereabouts) people are killed each year in the United States due to “gun violence,” they cleverly neglect to mention that 60% of gun deaths in the US are caused by suicide. The reality is that this fact leaves about 14,000 Americans murdered by gunfire or killed by police or others engaged in self-defense. The number of actual gun murders is far lower than portrayed by anti-gunners and a media only too willing to fan the flames of hysteria with any particular subject. (Note: About 50% of American suicides are accomplished by firearm. People can easily find ways to kill themselves without guns.)
Sadly, the Democratic presidential candidates have fallen prey to this same hysteria and have embraced platforms with ridiculous proposals about gun control, including the banning of “grenade launcher attachments” to rifles! Have you ever heard of a gunman using rifle grenades in a shooting? May as well ban death rays and phasers as well. Moronic ideas such as banning flash suppressors and bayonet lugs, as well as barrel shrouds have previously been touted as means of reducing “gun violence,” but in fact these are proposals by people that know virtually nothing about guns! While politicians and ignorant gun-banners rail about “assault weapons,” the fact is that only about 2% of gun deaths are attributed to “assault weapons” or rifles in general. These semi-automatic versions similar in appearance to military weapons are a minimal factor in American gun violence, let alone in the big picture of things that threaten Americans, including school children. Yet, watching the news you might think “assault weapons” are some sort of epidemic killing more Americans than anything else, even more ridiculous when you consider that literally millions of these semi-automatic rifles are in civilian hands in the US, yet a tiny, infinitesimally small number are used in crimes! With as many as 400 million firearms in civilian hands in the United States, you can easily see just how tiny a percentage are actually used in crimes. There is virtually no correlation between the number of guns owned by civilians and the rate at which guns are used in crimes.
As for really important problems threatening our kids, the number of Americans killed by opioid overdose is about double that of Americans killed by guns each year! Double! While we do hear about the problem, this enormous bane of American health gets a fraction of the heat and energy that gun incidents get. While Americans, including our kids, are dying at a rate of about 200 per day from opioids, these lonely individual deaths do not make for flashy news like a school shooting does, giving us the false impression that school shootings are a bigger danger to our kids than opioids.
In California alone, in 2015, 194 kids between the ages of 5 and 19 committed suicide, well over the total number of kids killed in school shootings in the entire country over a decade. In fact, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 10-14 year olds in the US. A frightening 1 of every 6 kids in grades 9-12 has considered suicide in the past year! You tell us, which problem is the bigger problem? Another troubling fact is that about a half million Americans each year are treated at hospitals for self-inflicted suicide attempts! Seriously, this suicide business is deadly business and is indeed a national scourge that needs serious fixing, compared to the far less dangerous specter of school shootings.
Hysterical cries for “universal background checks” are useless when we see time and again that school shooters and mass shooters obtained their weapons even after passing background checks, or sometimes taking them without permission from an owner that purchased the gun legally. Can you name more than one or two school shooting incidents where “universal background checks” would have denied the shooter access to the firearm used in the crime?
We do NOT minimize the tragedy of school shootings, but merely are saying we should take effective actions instead of following highly emotional, well intentioned but misguided ideas. Making schools with lockable classroom doors that are bullet resistant, educating kids about gun safety, providing mental-emotional counseling to students and ALL Americans without cost, reporting people that indicate a potential toward violence to remove their guns while psychological tests are conducted, arming school security or teachers (on a voluntary basis, no teacher would be forced to bear arms), metal detectors at school entrances, and a system of reporting mentally unstable people to authorities for being placed on a “no gun” list with a reasonable process for such persons to appeal their placement on such a list in a timely manner. Concealed carry and open carry laws passed by states around the country have proven to be an enormous success, with an incredibly tiny percentage of incidents involving a CCW permit holder misusing his legal firearm, while numerous incidents of armed citizens saving lives continue to amass.
(Note: A reader pointed out that alcohol, especially when driving, also contributes to a heavy toll of teenage lives.)
UPDATE, April 22, 2020: On April 18-19, 2020, a 51 year old resident of Nova Scotia, Canada, went on a shooting rampage that left 22 victims dead. The shooter, who had made up his SUV to look like an RCMP police vehicle and had donned an RCMP look-alike uniform prior to the shooting gunned down defenseless victims that apparently did not have or at least did not use firearms to defend themselves. When police finally caught up with the mass murderer, a shootout ensued and the murderer was killed. One of the victims fatally shot was an RCMP veteran of 23 years, the mother of 2 children. In a typical display of political buffoonery, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, vowed to create new and stricter gun control measures, including an “assault weapons” ban. This before he and we even knew what kind of guns the shooter used and how those guns had been obtained.
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you feel safe in school, or do you think you are in danger of becoming a victim of a school shooting? What measures do you propose for making our schools safer? Do school shootings or texting while driving endanger the most students? How can we cut down on the number of suicides and drug over-doses in the US? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Allen, John. Gun Control (Thinking Critically). Referencepoint Press Inc., 2018.
Barton, David. The Second Amendment. WallBuilder Press, 2000.
Lott, John R., Jr. The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies. Regnery Publishing, 2016.
US Government. 2018 Secret Service School Shooting Reports: Making Schools Safer, Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence. Independently published, 2018.
The featured image in this article, an administrative blank map by Bourrichon (atelier graphique) of Kanagawa Prefecture, for geolocalisation purpose, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license.