School shootings are dramatically on the rise; it’s not a myth, as some will have you believe. The lame excuses offered for them by some are also not supported by the evidence. It’s time we listen to a majority of Americans, gun owners and NRA members, and adopt some common sense reforms, before guns are outlawed by people fed up with such shootings as well as the false explanations.
“Schools are not under siege,” writes James Alan Fox with USA Today. “Rather, this more likely reflects a short-term contagion effect in which angry dispirited youngsters are inspired by others whose violent outbursts serve as fodder for national attention. That should subside once we stop obsessing over the risk.”
I tested this by looking at the number of school shootings from the 10 years after the 1994 Crime Bill was passed, which included an assault weapons ban. During these 10 years, there were 28 school shootings leading to 52 deaths and 109 wounded; a quarter of these deaths came from Columbine High School in 1999. For the 10 years after the Assault Weapons Ban lapsed, there were 130 school shootings with 171 deaths and 205 wounded. Now, it’s up to 184 shootings from 1995 until February of 2018, and shows no sign of letting down, with 241 deaths and 339 injured. The trend shows no indication of subsiding. It’s not a “short-term epidemic.”
New NRA Chief Oliver North blamed Ritalin and violent video games for the shooting. First of all, countries that use more Ritalin than we do (like Iceland) have far fewer shootings. As for violent video games, North should know, as he played a powerful role as an adviser to Call of Duty II, pressing for the game to be made “more authentic.”
Outspoken Texas Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick suggested that it’s our abortions and violent movies and lack of religion to blame. But such violent movies, like our video games, are shown around the world, without a corresponding increase abroad in such gun violence.
“A Pew Research Center study found that a little more than half of Americans say religion is very important in their lives,” writes the conservative Chicago Tribune. “In China, only 3 percent say religion is very important. Japan is only 11 percent. The United Kingdom and Germany are both at 21 percent. In Canada, only 27 percent of people think religion is very important in their lives. Our level of religiosity is high compared with those countries, but our gun violence problem is off the charts.”
It’s the same story with abortion. “According to data from a study released this year by the Guttmacher Institute, the number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 49 in the United States was 13. The rate was the same in the United Kingdom, (though they had far fewer gun murders),” continues The Chicago Tribune. “Sweden had a higher abortion rate at 18 per 1,000 women, but there were only 41 people shot to death there last year.” Nor can we blame mental health, as a U.S. Secret Service study found few shooters with this condition previously diagnosed. The decline of spanking has been cited as a reason, even though the continued use of spanking by some may be a factor, given how the American Psychological Association has found such punishment associated with “increased aggression, antisocial behavior and mental problems.”
Unless common sense gun restrictions, supported by a strong majority of Americans, gun-owners and even NRA members, are adopted, the problem will continue to grow, creating calls for more extreme regulations, even outright bans of firearms. Another more effective reform involves stronger consequences for failing to secure one’s weapons (a Class A misdemeanor if a crime is committed with one) and the laughably short prison sentences for straw purchasers like the ones who provided the Columbine shooters with their guns.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.