I don’t usually write about politics or society, but this issue rises above many other political controversies in its importance to protecting innocent life as well as basic human rights.
1. Gun control will not work.
There are hundreds of millions of guns in the U.S. And, unfortunately, a resourceful teen can find a way to get his hands on one or more of them. Getting rid of “assault rifles” or reducing the number of rounds in a magazine does not prevent a shooting. At that point, you are just arguing about which types of guns the shooter should bring with him to the shooting. Instead, you want to prevent the crime entirely.
Shootings occur in States like California, which already has strict gun control, as well as in States with few restrictions on guns. There is no evidence that gun control reduces school shootings in the U.S. Other nations are too dissimilar for us to conclude that their approaches would work for us.
The recent Santa Fe shooting involved a Remington 870 shotgun, one of over 11 million model 870′s sold since its inception. The other firearm was a revolver, of which there are also many millions in the U.S. We cannot stop these shootings by restrictions, which are in any case necessary, on who may buy guns and what types of guns they may buy. For example, banning assault rifles won’t stop school shootings, as that type of firearm is not essential to the crime. Keeping firearms away from persons who are mentally ill is necessary, but not sufficient. We simply can’t guarantee, by any set of laws, that a criminal or a mentally ill person won’t be able to obtain a firearm.
Do we really want a society in which people want to commit mass murder, but can’t only because they lack guns? That is the real suggestion behind the “take away the guns” mentality. Would it not be better to have a society in which no one wants to kill innocents?
2. Why not assign armed officers to each school?
Assigning one uniformed patrol officer, in a marked police vehicle, to each of the K-12 schools in the U.S. would cost $50,000 per officer times 100,000 schools for a total of 5 billion dollars.
And all that money means only one officer per school, which is a limited amount of deterrence and a limited ability to respond to a shooting.
A significant percentage of schools already have a sworn officer on-site, who is in many cases armed. One LEO with a gun is just not enough protection for hundreds or thousands of students.
3. Arm teachers.
Allow certain teachers to undergo training and to carry a firearm on their person during school hours. It is the fastest way to respond to school shootings. Within a few months, we could have armed teachers at a high percentage of schools in the U.S.
Teenage shooters are not highly trained. They are not experienced in life. They are not hardened criminals. It is likely that many youthful shooters will be deterred by the presence of multiple armed teachers in a school.
And give the teachers laser sights. Accuracy is more important than firepower, when a minimally trained teacher is firing a gun in a location with many innocent children. A laser sight makes any pistol much easier to fire under duress and much more accurate.
4. Media and Culture
Emotionally disturbed youths consider committing shootings because of the repeated wide coverage of past shootings by the media. They are imitating these other students. It may be that these shooters are attracted to the media attention. We live in a society in which youths seek notoriety through social media. Committing this type of atrocity results in notoriety. This is an important overlooked factor. Teens live in a culture which idolizes fame of any kind.
I wonder, what type of cultural influences would cause teens to turn aside from this behavior? There must be some type of view of this behavior that we could inculcate among youths that would make them see it as not desirable. A team of researchers should investigate the psychology behind these shootings, and then make recommendations to government on how to remove the cultural supports for this behavior.
5. Self-defense is a fundamental human right.
You don’t solve societal problems by depriving citizens of their rights. The solution to the problem of mass shootings is not the deprivation of the right to self-defense. We will not end up with a safe and free society, if we go down that path.