Although every school shooting is beyond tragic there is no school shooting epidemic in America.
American children do not “risk their lives” when they show up to school each morning — or at least, not nearly as much as they do whenever they ride in a car, swim in a pool, or put food in their mouths (an American’s lifetime odds of dying in a mass shooting committed in any location is 1 in 11,125; of dying in a car accident is 1 and 491; of drowning is 1 in 1,133; and of choking on food is 1 in 3,461). Criminal victimization in American schools has collapsed in tandem with the overall crime rate, leaving U.S. classrooms safer today than at any time in recent memory.
And, perhaps most critically, there is no epidemic of mass shootings in American schools — at least, not under the conventional definitions of those terms.
In the immediate aftermath of the Parkland shooting, progressive activists and commentators (including this one) repeatedly claimed that there had been 18 school shootings since the start of this year. This proved to be a gross exaggeration. In reality, according to new research from Northeastern University, there have been a grand total of eight mass shootings (shootings that kill at least four people) at K-through-12 schools in the United States since 1996. Meanwhile, over the past 20 years, the number of fatal shootings in American schools (of any kind) has plummeted.
If mass school shootings were the only form of gun violence in the United States, the case for treating the regulation of firearms as a pressing policy issue would actually be fairly weak. For the past quarter-century, there has been an average of one mass murder (a killing of four or more people committed with any weapon, as opposed to just firearms) in an American school each year. Every one of those atrocities is a blight on humanity. But it is nearly impossible to design a policy that can bring the incidence of an already exceptionally rare crime down to zero — and given the inherently limited nature of legislative time and resources, it would make little sense to prioritize such a marginal and difficult issue over public health challenges that kill exponentially more people.
There is no “school safety” crisis in the U.S.; only a gun violence epidemic that consists primarily of suicides, accidents, and single-victim homicides committed with handguns. In the decades since Columbine, progressives have often led the public to believe otherwise. And for understandable reasons. Spectacular acts of mass murder committed against children (especially upper-middle class children in “good” public schools) attract a degree of media attention and political concern that our nation’s (roughly) 20,000 annual firearm suicides — and daily acts of urban gang violence — simply do not. The most misleading piece of the Parkland survivors’ message — that their experience is representative of a widespread social problem that threatens the lives of all American children — may well be its most politically effective component.
But if misrepresenting the nature of America’s gun problem has political benefits, it also has policy drawbacks. After all, if the March for Our Lives mission statement were actually true — if “every kid in this country” went “to school wondering if this day might be their last” — then there would be a reasonable case for filling American schools with law enforcement agents and increasing the use of juvenile detention.
I want to state that this doesn’t mean I don’t support making schools safer. In my view, it is ridiculous that we protect our celebrities, banks and government offices with guns and not our school children. We should be putting armed officers in every school and look into arming teachers that have been properly vetted and trained to do so. I also feel thar state and local governments should be dealing with it. Why should the federal government decide how each school protects its kids? The local and state governments are much better at making schools safe in their own communities. My belief in these policies has nothing to do with the frequency of Mass Shootings in schools or anywhere else. In order to fix the problems in school it is important we operate with the facts in mind and not just emotion. We have already seen an armed resource officer stop a school shooter in Maryland.We also have seen that an Obama-era program allowed Nikolas Cruz to pass a background check to purchase the AR-15.(Trump Administration is looking into it)
Making schools safer has nothing to do with the stripping of the second amendment or putting in more gun regulation. Instead of that, we must look into putting armed guards in our schools and eliminating unnecessary loopholes such as the Obama-era program that allowed Nikolas Cruz to get his AR-15.