by Rob Roman
After years of hand-wringing, good intentions, and willful inaction, the school murders continue. With the most recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida, just 40 miles from President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago, there seems to be a new glimmer of hope. The massacre, which left 17 students and educators dead and dozens injured, offers our country hope through the surviving students, who want to pressure local governments and Congress to finally do something to make schools safe from random attacks of deranged people with an affinity for guns.
One thing for sure, the same, tired 20 arguments from the far right explaining why guns are not the problem, don’t make sense and are just excuses for inaction. Another thing for sure, the Left needs to realize that guns are not the whole of the problem and there is no magic piece or pieces of gun legislation that by itself will stop the school shootings. Third, doing nothing is no longer an acceptable answer. Doing nothing will, and should, become much harder to do.
This is the battle cry of the students of Parkland. The public reaction to the students vividly illustrate the fact that the complete inaction of Congress after Sandy Hook and other mass shootings left many people, myself included, with pent up emotions that have infused this new effort with a palpable energy and widespread support. The nationwide walkouts and the March For Our Lives on March 24th in Washington and in cities around America, will demand a response to making schools and communities safer under the moniker #Never Again.
The students wisely understand that the country needs to come together for solutions, and that further regulation of firearms will not fully solve school shootings and general gun violence. Yet, they will not let Politicians hide behind the 20 non-arguments for excluding gun safety from the debate. They also don’t want half-measures, such as a ban on bump stocks or a fix to the NICS system designed to appease the voting public, giving lawmakers political cover to say “We did something.”
The 20 non-arguments, I have listed in an article from over 5 years ago. They are more fully explained here. But in short form they are listed at the bottom of the article. They keep re-appearing again and again. The solutions sought by people on the right boil down to 3 of those non-arguments: “Laws on the books”, “Mental Health”, and “Good Guy with a Gun”.
Improvements in mental health initiatives seem at odds with the penchant on the right for spending cuts on such measures and a resistance to governmental control. So, isn’t that really an excuse to do nothing? They want us to believe that shelving universal health care will somehow improve access to mental health services for children and adults.
“Laws on the books” are a favorite of the right for an answer to gun violence. Improvements to the NICS system geared at coaxing states to share more information with the feds for background checks for gun purchasers was recently proposed in Congress and is approved by the NRA and many on the Right. That’s a good idea, but far from enough. Adam Lanza had no law enforcement or psychiatric paper trail. Neither did Stephen Paddock. There are lots of people with law enforcement or psychiatric histories, but many are not violent and they don’t have a fascination with or easy access to military-style assault weapons.
Then we go back to the old police conundrum: Unless and until a person actually does something, mere threats and potential to act are never enough to take action against them. Also, law enforcement and social services have limited budgets and they always must make choices about priorities, and people who are at risk or might do something must always take a back seat to people that have already done something.
Then there is the “Good Guy with a Gun” argument. If we can arm teachers and staff on a voluntary basis, that might deter a would-be shooter who won’t know which adults are armed. It also gives people in the school a fighting chance in the 10 minutes or so until law enforcement arrives. “Gun free zones” are the problem, and responsible people being allowed to carry concealed weapons in schools, work, and public places are the solution. It sounds like such a great idea, and the gun lobby loves it.
What better than more guns being the solution to mass shootings? But there are severe problems with that as a solution. Very few teachers are going to agree to this, and then they are obligated to do something should a shooting arise. You can train someone to handle a firearm, but being prepared to kill a human being is an entirely different matter. There can be rogue teachers, as has already been demonstrated in recent news, students could get caught in the crossfire, and students might be able to wrestle a gun away from a teacher. Shooters who are suicidal are ready for a shootout. A teacher with a handgun would be very unlikely to confront a maniac who is ready to kill and to die, and is armed with superior firepower. Shooters will change their tactics to counter this new threat, and the presence of armed resource officers have not deterred school shooters.
In the past few weeks, one distraught teacher locked himself in a classroom with a loaded handgun, and one teaching firearms instructor accidentally discharged a round in a classroom.
Betsy Devos, President Trump’s Secretary of Education, just came out with an article highlighting these three approaches.
Laws (already) on the books: “The President has called for strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System based on the legislative framework introduced by Senators John Cornyn, R – Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, that will help improve the system’s accuracy and effectiveness.”
Mental health: “Existing mental health programs must be reformed and expanded, including those that help individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others. The President has proposed such changes for mental health programs as well as support for programs that utilize court-ordered treatment.”
Good Guy with a Gun: “This includes assisting states in training specially qualified school personnel to use firearms on a voluntary basis. Programs such as this currently exist in states including Florida, Texas and Ohio, allowing staff to go through highly specialized courses to be prepared to respond to an incident. Additionally, the administration will develop programs to support the recruitment of military veterans and retired law enforcement — folks who know how to respond to a dangerous situation — into new careers in education.”
Programs such as this do NOT currently exist in Florida. The legislation was just passed on February 28th, 2018. Only 2 states have current programs, even though there’s been a lot of talk about this since Sandy Hook in 2012.
If retired law enforcement and military veterans were interested in being school teachers, wouldn’t they be in the schools already? Why should an excellent teacher get pushed aside for a mediocre teacher, “good guy with a gun”? If any armed teacher leaves their class to pursue a shooter, that class is now defenseless. If the armed teacher is slain, that teacher is no longer able to protect students. Schools are very large, and most mass shootings last 5 minutes, 10 at the most. This is an unpopular idea among teachers and students. I mentioned before about the Sparks, Nevada shooting where the student was confronted by the unarmed Michael Landsberry, a math teacher. At that point, the shooter had a gun, and one student had been wounded in the shoulder. Had Landsberry been armed, would he then have been physically and emotionally ready to kill a twelve year-old 7th grader?
Are we supposed to believe that retired police and military veterans will fill teaching slots in schools all over this country, or will they want to serve mostly only in select areas? It’s really putting a lot on a teacher to make them the designated superman or wonder woman who will have 5 or 10 minutes to stop a crazed mass shooter with a military-style assault rifle among other firearms. Once this idea is put in place, it really becomes impossible to know, merely by the fact that an armed teacher was present during a mass shooting, whether that saved lives or not. Well, only 12 were slain. It could have been 20 or 30. While we’re on the subject, the presence of armed and uniformed resource officers was not a deterrent at Parkland or Columbine, or Arapahoe – even though at Arapahoe, people attempted to claim that a resource officer stopped the shooter and saved lives when he in fact did not. Please see the proof here.
An armed resource officer recently stopped a school shooter in Maryland, but that was a domestic dispute and targeted shooting at the victim, not an indiscriminate mass shooting. At this time, it’s not clear whether the resource officer shot the student, who also fired at the officer, or the student committed suicide.
Update: The student shot himself in the head. The claim is that the student fired at the officer and that the officer shot at the shooter and hit the shooter’s gun.
“At 7:57 a.m., he approached classmate Jaelynn Willey, 16, and shot her once in the head with his father’s Glock 9-millimeter pistol. That bullet also struck 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the leg.
After firing the handgun, Rollins kept walking through the school, where he was confronted by school resource officer Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill just after 8 a.m. Their weapons went off simultaneously 31 seconds later, with Rollins shooting himself in the head and Gaskill shooting Rollins in the hand, officials said.”
There was a big commotion made in the news recently when a New York City school ended the practice of having an armed resource officer located on campus. What these news stories didn’t say was that there were only 3 schools left in NYC that had an armed resource officer, and for the last 10 years, they had been switching from this practice to going to the schools regularly as part of neighborhood patrols. So, in my opinion, armed resource officers are a good idea if the community agrees and agrees to fund it.
What happened at Parkland, where the armed resource officer stayed outside the school, or at Columbine, where the armed resource officer was at lunch, or at Arapahoe, where the armed resource officer waited until the police arrived, and entered the library only after unarmed staff had already entered, illustrates why this might not save many lives. If the armed and trained officers waited for backup, were out to lunch, or stayed away from the shooting, how are you expecting an armed teacher to do better?
I say, arm the teachers as it will be the only way to prove it won’t work. But this is not a viable solution anyways, and cannot be the only solution.
Besides the tired old ‘BS’ about “Laws on the books”, “Mental Health”, and “Good Guy with a Gun”, Devos has one more plan:
“First, we all must acknowledge and address the growing alienation experienced by too many students who feel disconnected from adults and peers around them. Many educators and community leaders have developed innovative ways to foster the social and emotional well-being of their students — the administration will highlight these approaches and every community should expand them dramatically.”
Now, we are talking about something that makes sense.
So, the approach taking shape from the right is the correct approach in that it recognizes that there cannot be a single solution for mass shootings. Which brings me to criticism of the approach from the left.
First, if you are really concerned about school safety and mass shootings, then everyone, especially people on the Left, need to do their homework in regard to guns. Know the difference between semi-automatic and fully automatic. Know the difference between a magazine and a clip. Know what an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle is and is not. Know what the actual laws on the books are, both federal laws, and in the laws in various states. Know what a “Bump Stock” is, how it works, and why it works. Know that you don’t need a bump stock at all to simulate automatic fire with an AR-15 type weapon, and know the different types of semi-auto and non-semi auto firearms and ammo and their use in school and other mass shootings.
A good guide for me was when I learned the arguments against further regulation of firearms from the “far Right”, now known as just “the Right”, and I responded to each of them here.
Second, some people on the Left refuse to see that gun ownership cannot be banned. I still see talk on the Left all the time about “banning semi-automatic weapons” and repealing the 2nd Amendment. You can’t do that without Amending the U.S. Constitution, requiring a 2/3rds majority of the House and Senate, and/or 3/4ths majority of legislatures of the states to do so. Are there 67 Senators, 290 Representatives and/or 38 state legislatures willing to pass an Amendment? Then why talk about it? This only feeds into fears on the Right that any talk of gun control is really about banning all guns.
Many more on the Left believe that there is some kind of magic gun safety legislation that on its own will end mass shootings in schools and other public places. There is no such legislation. We can only hope to significantly lower the incidents and fatalities of school and mass shootings. Further, when you fully understand the issues of the 2nd Amendment, types of firearms and the rounds they fire, gun ownership, and mass shootings, you will have to come to a set of realizations:
1) The 2nd Amendment is here to stay.
2) Semi-automatic rifles cannot be banned.
3) Millions of people own and use guns safely in the USA.
Third: Any gun safety legislation can never be the single solution to school and other mass shootings. We also have to address the mind and the development of the person committing these atrocities, and the role of society and our culture in fostering such minds.
The recent walkouts across the country were the focal point of the Right for criticisms like this: Children cannot tell the adults what to do. The students only want gun control. Students who believe other solutions besides ‘gun control’ were attacked, disciplined, and / or silenced by their teachers and peers. Most students just wanted to get out of school for a while, and don’t know the facts and / or don’t care about ‘gun control’ or mass shootings. Teachers in public schools, even in the primary and secondary schools, are indoctrinating our kids with Leftist ideas and values leading to Socialism.
If you think that remark about socialism is off the hook, listen to what Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, said recently: “What they want are more restrictions on the law-abiding,” “Think about that — their solution is to make you, all of you, less free.” “If they seize power … our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever,” LaPierre continued. “Socialism is a movement that loves a smear.”
Of course, Wayne LaPierre again uses two of the 20 discredited arguments against further gun legislation to make his point. He uses #1 and #2
- 1. This is a Gun grab / assault on the 2nd Amendment.
- 2. A ban or more controls on certain types of semi-automatic military-style rifles and high capacity magazines would just be the beginning. This is an assault on law abiding gun owners.
But he now adds a new one, which I have to call #21. New gun legislation is part of a Leftist movement towards socialism.
Dana Loesch, among others, recently used
- 7. A ban or further regulation of military style rifles and high capacity magazines will not help save the 500 plus victims killed by handguns each year in Chicago.
But, she gave it a nice racial twist. White America and the legacy media care about mass school shootings and other high-profile mass shootings, but they don’t care about inner city gun violence, which kills a lot more people, many of them children.
The Parkland students brilliantly brought these two separate issues together in their March on Washington. Inner city students eloquently spoke out on the daily loss of life due to gun violence that is increasingly punctuated by another mass shooting. Working together and standing united, the students feel they can address mass shootings by focusing on the types of people and the armaments that make them so deadly, and general gun violence by focusing on the poverty, despair, and lack of opportunity that make this violence so prevalent.
I submit to you that most Americans care about both school / mass shootings and inner city shootings. In reality, the news has been full of the stories in Chicago, Baltimore, and other cities grappling with gun violence. Eight years of Obama, whose hometown was Chicago and seven years of Rahm Emmanuel as Mayor of Chicago haven’t significantly lowered the murders in Chicago. It’s a really difficult situation to address. Donald Trump promised to be the President who would “make America Safe again”, so what is his plan for the inner cities?
So, what I’m saying here, is that on the Right, they are talking about a multi-faceted approach to mass shootings, but they want little to nothing done about the weapons that make them so deadly. On the Left, there’s a tendency to concentrate on the gun issues while losing focus on school security and the non-gun issues and solutions.
To show an example on the Left, Nicole Hockley, who lost her 6 year-old son Dylan to the Sandy Hook shooter, and is a Director of Sandy Hook Promise, has been immersed in this issue for over 5 years. Darrell Scott, who lost his 17 year-old daughter, Rachel, at Columbine, has been involved in this issue for over 19 years. Both were present at the White House talk, and neither of them talked about gun issues. They talked about peer-based and school based solutions, school safety and security, FUNDING for mental health and preventive measures. These kinds of ideas can help prevent mass shootings and lower the rates of homicides and suicides. These same programs can reduce the escalating and devestating problem of deadly high-tech bullying. Darrell talked about creating a “culture of connectiveness”.
To show an example on the Right, Bump Stocks should have been legislated against in the days after the Las Vegas shooting, which left 59 dead and 422 wounded by gunfire. There are still no plans to ban these toys which just allow an AR-15 style rifle to go butta butta butta butta butta instead of blam blam blam blam. What hunting, self-defense, sport, or target shooting requires this accessory? None whatever.
The major focus of the gun debate is again the AR-15 and similar rifles.
Ted Nugent, spokesman for the NRA, says that the AR-15 pictured is a “family sporting rifle”.
“So, this is a standard AR-15…It’s a semi-automatic sporting rifle. It is not a weapon of war…. It is not an assault rifle and it is not a weapon of war. It is a standard American family sporting rifle that shoots one bullet per trigger-pull.” -Ted Nugent
But that was not what was used at many mass shootings. These were the ones used:
Referring to “terminal ballistics”, Ted Nugent also said:
“See, you can see it makes a little .22 caliber hole in the target.”
Terminal ballistics is the study of how a projectile behaves when it hits its target and transfers its kinetic energy to the target. The bullet’s design, as well as its impact velocity, plays a huge role in how the energy is transferred.
Here are the facts: The AR-15 has a lower recoil due to the small caliber .223 ammo. The light recoil is what allows bump stocks to use this energy to force faster trigger pulls. The rounds are similar in caliber to rounds used in cheap handguns like the Saturday Night Specials, and also the .22 rifle, used to hunt small game. Ineffective .22 handguns have been abandoned for higher caliber weapons (9 mm, .40, .45 ACP) that have more “stopping power”.
Yet, the rounds of AR-15 type rifles are 2.26 inches long, and their velocity is 880 meters per second (963 yards per second), 3 times that of a handgun. The round yaws (spins on a vertical axis) through the air and cavitates on impact, turning bone into dust, and ripping through vital organs and blood vessels. It leaves an orange or baseball sized hole in the body, whether internal or upon entry. Most of these victims bleed to death and never make it to the E.R.
Conspiracy theorists wanted to know why there were no victims in the “triage area” in front of the Sandy Hook Elementary School. This is because only one adult and no children shot directly by this round survived.
Look at what a trauma surgeon said: “One looks like a grenade went off in there,” University of Arizona trauma surgeon Peter Rhee told Wired when comparing the damage done by AR-15 bullets and 9mm handgun bullets. “The other looks like a bad knife cut.”
To see why the above Ted Nugent / Infowars video is full of misleading statements, please click here.
What are the purposes of these designs, other than to sell more rifles?
The comments from the right about standard semi-auto rifles vs these semi-auto rifles suggest that people only want to ban or more heavily regulate these weapons is due to the fact that they are “scary looking”. The reason they are “scary looking” is due to the military-style features that make them fire faster, fire more rounds before reload, make them more concealable, prevent the barrel from overheating when firing many multiples of rounds, etc.
These kinds of modifications have nothing to do with hunting, target shooting, sports shooting, or self-defense.
So fixing the NICS system and the Universal Background Check would help impact mass shootings as well as inner city shootings. Restrictions on the designs and accessories that make a “family sporting rifle” into a military-style assault weapon will also help lower the fatality rate of mass shootings. Bump Stocks and age restrictions, found reasonable by President Trump until he talked to the NRA and far Right Republicans and changed his mind, should be up for discussion. Finding ways to intervene with troubled people who own guns and have violated the law or made threats has wide support.
Ted Nugent’s video for Infowars showing how a shotgun is deadlier than an AR-15 is full of misleading statements, otherwise known as lies. Dana Loesch’s speech at CPAC was full of lies. A recent article by the Washington Examiner entitled “Lies, damned lies, and statistics about guns” contains a main paragraph which is a complete lie and phony statistics citing a Mother Jones article which does not say what the author says it does. Here’s the paragraph:
“According to data gathered by Mother Jones, the average mass shooting or spree in 2017 not involving a semi-automatic weapon was deadlier than ones using at least one semi-automatic weapon. And, in four of the past six years, the total death count for non-semi-automatic mass killings exceeded the semi-automatic count.”
-Completely and utterly false.
So if the arguments on the Right, which purport that more gun legislation will not significantly lower the incidents or fatalities of mass shootings is such a valid and reasonable argument, why all the lies and efforts to deflect or mislead??
The Left and the Right are both missing the mark. There is no single solution for mass shootings. The weapon design, the accessories and the ammo (.223 x 2.26”) make these military-style assault weapons the go-to weapon for mass shooters looking for the top kill score, and make them by far the most deadly in a mass shooting. Of course, without these designs and accessories, crazed shooters will still resort to shotguns and handguns, etc. but they will be more survivable for a variety of reasons.
The correct approach to mass shootings is a variety pack of security measures, mental health measures, school based, peer based, and early preventive measures, but we also have to look at the weapons, ammo, and accessories that are made not for hunting, sport shooting, target practice, or self-defense, but to kill the most possible people in the least amount of time.
People of any perspective or viewpoint are encouraged to comment
Contrary to the Washington Examiner article, there were only 3 shooting sprees listed in 2017 where a semi- automatic weapon was NOT used. There were 10 fatalities and 2 suicides. The other 105 fatalities were caused by semi-automatic weapons.
1. Calls for sensible gun safety legislation are just a Gun grab / assault on the 2nd Amendment. -FALSE.
2. A ban or more controls on certain types of semi-automatic military-style rifles and high capacity magazines would just be the beginning. This is an assault on law abiding gun owners. -FALSE.
3. Guns are just a tool. They are inanimate objects. People are responsible for misusing guns. Don’t blame the gun. -FALSE.
4. Knives, forks, cars, and bathtubs are just as dangerous as guns. -MISLEADING.
5. An “assault weapon” is fully automatic”. A semi-automatic military style rifle with high capacity magazines is not an “assault weapon”. -FALSE.
6. I need my semi-automatic military style rifle and high capacity magazines to protect my home and my family. -FALSE (unless your name is Tony Montana).
7. A ban or further regulation of military style rifles and high capacity magazines will not help save the 500 plus victims killed by handguns each year in Chicago. -True (That’s a different subject than mass shootings).
8. Gun free zones are “murder magnets”. We can’t reduce the rate and fatalities of mass shootings unless we get rid of “gun-free zones” and allow concealed or open carry in all schools and other public places. -Sounds good until you think about it for a few minutes.
9. An FBI background check did not stop the Boston Bombers. More people were killed by drones authorized by President Obama than were killed in mass shootings in the USA during the Obama years. -True, but what’s the connection?
10. My 2nd Amendment rights come straight from God almighty and are meant to establish an armed militia against a tyrannical government. –Yeah, right.
11. Gun homicides, suicides and gun accidents have declined dramatically since 1994. -False, rates have remained the same since the late 90’s -Mass shootings are getting deadlier due to the weapons used.
12. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. -Guns are not going to be outlawed.
13. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. -Right, so guns need to be kept out of the hands of the wrong people.
14. Laws won’t help because criminals don’t obey the laws. We have enough laws on the books but they are not enforced. -False. -Are you willing to fund the enforcement of laws already on the books?
15. Chicago has the most gun laws and the most gun deaths, so there! –Because neighboring cities and states have lax gun laws.
16. We don’t need gun control, we need a mental health solution. A mental health only solution is the answer to mass shootings. -We need both, and are you wiling to fund the mental health solution?
17. Mass shooters are mostly liberals and most general gun violence is caused by liberals. -Rated by Politifact as “Pants on Fire”.
18. Millions of AR-15s are in circulation and are being safely owned and operated by more and more law abiding gun owners as we speak. -Right, and they’re falling into the hands of the wrong people, so more regulation is required.
19. The Universal background check is not good, fair, necessary because ….. because ….. uh … please see reasons 1 through 18.
20. In this country, and especially in certain parts of this country, supporters of doing absolutely nothing about gun violence are the most vocal. They are the vocal minority and they will never compromise and nothing about gun safety will ever be done. -Right. Now it’s time for the majority to get vocal and have their say.
21. Calls for ‘gun control’ are part of the Left’s march towards socialism.