The National Rifle Association has been using the death of a small number of children to try and mandate the use of armed guards in every school across the country. Not coincidentally for a group funded by gun manufacturers, that would require school districts everywhere to buy a large number of guns. But is such a measure called for?
Not according to a new report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics this week. Confirming earlier studies, the BJS finds that more than 98% of the killings of young people happen outside of school, despite the fact that children spend so much time in school. Expanding on this finding to non-fatal violence, the BJS finds that from 2007-2011 (the last year for which full data is available), more than 99% of gun-related violence occurs outside of school. Schools are already safe.
Furthermore, as both the BJS report and another report released this week by Pew Research show, the rate of crimes committed with guns is sharply lower over the last 20 years. But that’s not what Americans think is going on. In a representative poll of Americans conducted by Pew, 56% of respondents said they thought that the rate of crimes committed with guns had gone up over the past 20 years. 26% of respondents said they thought the rate of gun crime had stayed the same over the past 20 years. Only 12% of respondents answered correctly, that gun crime has fallen over the past 20 years.
Americans are freaking out about school safety and freaking out about gun violence. In neither case is the panic supported by facts.