Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Some Thoughts on Guns and Schools
I thought you might enjoy this piece I wrote for the Orlando Sentinel (April 17, 2007) after the Virginia Tech shootings.
In the wake of the horrific massacre that took place at Virginia Tech, newspapers around the country wasted no time in reporting that Virginia has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States. According to the International Herald Tribune, “Ownership requires only passing criminal background checks, which can be bypassed by buying from an unlicensed dealer. And unlicensed dealers can sell their wares at gun shows without requiring criminal checks. Guns need not be registered unless the owner wants to carry a concealed weapon.”
For the next several weeks we can expect more of this type of intellectual laziness as reporters, politicians, soccer-Moms and everyone else who is convinced that guns are bad lines up to offer up the latest “proof” that school shootings are “caused” by the lack of “gun control”.
As it turns out, the exact opposite is a fact. School shootings – and many other shootings for that matter – occur because we do not have enough law-abiding, armed citizens.
Let’s look at the evidence. John Lott, a University of Chicago economist, collected data from every one of the 3,054 counties in the United States over an 18-year period and examined changes in the rates of nine different types of crime. He also accounted for the effects of dozens of other variables, including variations in arrest rates, in the age and racial composition of a county’s population, in national crime rates, and in changes made to gun-control laws, including the adoption of waiting periods. Lott’s findings show that concealed weapons laws significantly reduce violent crime. On average, the murder rate fell by ten percent, rape by three percent, and aggravated assault by six percent.
By concealed weapons laws, we are talking of course about citizens who legally carry firearms to provide for their Constitutional protections before the police show up. Ask any law enforcement officer and they will tell you that it is far more common for the police to appear after someone is dead than a few seconds before the trigger is pulled. Society does not have the resources or the power of premonition to place our law officers in the right place at the right time. Therefore, the citizens, as our Founders believed, have the right and responsibility to prevent massacres like the one that has tragically occurred at Virginia Tech.
Every parent who cares about the long run safety of their children should actively pursue gun safety courses, gun training and a home environment that respects guns for what they are meant to do. If more parents did this, rather than listen to the histrionics of people who are ignorant about guns and our rights, then at some point during the Virginia Tech shootings the gunman would have faced the barrel of a gun being held by a responsible citizen. That could have been after one death or twenty, but it would have dramatically increased the probability of lives being saved.
It would have also given future gunmen that much needed moment of pause if more of them realized that there were many potential defenders of life out there among the citizenry.