Reeling from the most recent mass homicide, today we mourn the victims of Newtown. Tomorrow, we should examine how federal law aided and abetted their murders.
In coming months, gun control advocates will insist banning assault weapons is crucial, even though such firearms are, in reality, functionally identical to common hunting guns. Indeed, the assault weapon moniker was coined to create confusion between semi-automatic firearms and fully automatic assault rifles restricted since 1934.
Theyll say high capacity magazines facilitate mass killings, even though a murderer armed with multiple weapons can kill dozens with revolvers, single shot firearms or even knives.
Youll hear about destructiveness of .223-caliber ammunition allegedly used, although our military issues .223 not for its lethality but rather because it is light weight and low recoil. Military veterans routinely complain about lack of terminal stopping power. In truth, .223 is ballistically inferior to hunting ammunition.
What they wont say, however, is how gun control has fueled 16 years of school killings. Passed first in 1990, the federal Gun Free School Zones Act, banning guns in and around schools, was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995.
Congress, having passed the Brady Act and assault weapon ban, responded with great fanfare by tweaking its language and promptly reenacting it. Amid the controversy, people learned guns were effectively banned within 1,000 feet of any school. (If you own firearms, youre probably an inadvertent criminal.)
Then the killing began. Between the first significant school shooting, in 1966, and reenactment of the GFSZA in 1996, media timelines reveal eight shootings with 134 victims killed or wounded a rate of 4.3 victims per year. Between 1996 and 2012, the review finds 62 shootings and 367 victims a fivefold increase to 23 victims per year. Meanwhile, the ban on semi-automatic firearms became law in 1994 and expired in 2004 during which period the rate of victimization remained unchanged suggesting it had little or no impact.
While media bias probably favors reporting of recent school killings, the GFSZA has clearly been an abject failure. Worse, evidence suggests it may actually create kill zones which attract violent predators.
Researchers John Lott and William Landes, then at Yale and the University of Chicago, respectively, studied multiple victim public shootings. Said Lott, Gun prohibitionists concede that banning guns around schools has not quite worked as intended but their response has been to call for more regulation of guns. Yet what might appear to be the most obvious policy may actually cost lives. When gun-control laws are passed, it is law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, who adhere to them.
Examining data from 1976 to 1995, they discovered that mass homicides in states adopting concealed handgun laws declined by 84 percent, deaths plummeted by 90 percent and injuries by 83 percent. Crediting the reductions to deterrence (even suicidal maniacs avoid armed victims), Lott and Landes called their findings dramatic, concluding: [T]he only policy factor to have a consistently significant influence on multiple victim public shootings is the passage of concealed handgun laws.
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch advocates arming school personnel as we do airline pilots. Israel started arming teachers in the 1970s. Thailand followed suit in 2004. Indeed, armed intervention by citizens not police stopped school rampages in Pearl, Miss.; Edinboro, Pa.; and Virginias Appalachian School of Law.
Wondering how teachers with concealed handgun permits would respond, I asked our email recipients and received uniformly positive responses from teachers, college instructors and post graduate professors who lamented inability to protect students from even routine murders, assaults and rapes.
Said a middle school principal who carries a firearm everywhere but to work: I am charged with the safety of nearly 700 children and adults every day I step into the office. Yet the only instruments I have to carry out that task are my good intentions.
Paul Valone is the president of Grassroots North Carolina, a gun-rights advocacy group.
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