No, There Is Not An Epidemic Of School Shootings
I don’t like guns. They’re nasty pieces of technology designed to kill things. Almost nobody really needs a gun, and gun ownership is a danger to everyone associated with the owner. The National Rifle Association is a crass industry organization that doesn’t care how many people are killed with the weapons it sells – and it serves as a channel for Russians to spend money in American presidential elections.
That said, it’s time to stop the hyperbole about gun violence in schools.
People are describing an epidemic of school shootings.
Sarah Cody at the Hartford Courant warns of a ”school shootings epidemic”.
Ellen Degeneres writes, “No words, no actions, no laws are enough until we end this epidemic of school shootings in our country.”
Dr. Steven Berkowitz says, ”as a physician I can recognize a growing, unmanaged epidemic. And by any stretch of the imagination, gun violence is an epidemic.”
Is there really an epidemic of gun violence in schools?
“Epidemic” is defined by the Merrim-Webster dictionary as: ”affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time typhoid was epidemic; excessively prevalent; contagious as in epidemic laughter; or characterized by very widespread growth or extent”.
There have been seven shootings at schools in the USA so far this year – most of which involved just one injury or fatality. That’s a rate of 42 school shootings per year.
The USA has 98,271 public schools, and over 33,000 additional private schools. At the annual rate of 42 school shootings, three hundredths of one percent of schools can be expected to experience an episode of gun violence in any given year.
That sounds like a lot of violence, but it isn’t an epidemic, given the size of our country.
Neither is there an epidemic of gun violence in American society in general.
In 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 12 Americans out of every 100,000 were killed by guns – often when gun owners accidentally shot themselves or their friends and family. The highest rate of gun deaths is in the South and mountain states of the West, but even there, guns are not the typical means of mortality.
The USA has a higher rate of gun violence than other countries. It’s a real problem that deserves real solutions. The problem is that, in the current political environment, the solutions being proposed are inadequate.
While the idea that there’s an epidemic of gun violence is nonsense, “common sense gun regulation” is another phrase that’s a load of hooey. Most of the supposed “common sense” gun regulation that’s been proposed doesn’t really go far enough, because it’s hampered by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Raising the legal age to buy a high-powered rifle to 21 isn’t enough. Banning bump stocks isn’t enough.
What’s called for is the repeal of the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment reads, ”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” but most guns aren’t being used to contribute to well-regulated militias these days. The Second Amendment was passed when the memory of the revolution of 1776 was still fresh, and the idea that individuals could pick up their rifles, organize, and overthrow a tyrannical government was plausible. The idea is ridiculous today.
Today, governments have killer robots on the ground, sea, and air, equipped with high-powered bombs and missiles. The government of the United States has tanks, submarines, aircraft carriers, helicopters, jet fighters, and nuclear weapons. The ability of individual Americans to own rifles and handguns is not what keeps liberty alive.
The Second Amendment has been outdated for generations, and it’s time for it to do. Without the Second Amendment, the federal government could prohibit general ownership and sale of military-grade weapons. State and local governments could have the freedom to decide for themselves what additional gun control measures they wish to implement.
People would still be able to hunt. People in the South and West would still be able to buy and keep more guns than they could ever use – and gun violence would still be a significant problem there, though somewhat diminished. The rest of us would see strongly reduced gun violence, however.
Some people might seek to depict the repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution as an extreme move, but it’s really not. The Constitution was designed to be changed to meet the changing needs of the nation. We are no longer living in a land where a battle of British redcoats vs. country farmers is ever going to take place. It isn’t guns that keep us free – it’s the democratic process by which we get to change the rules of our own government that preserves liberty.