I once suggested that military veterans, reserves, or police officers should be hired to stand guard at schools as a way to prevent mass shootings. I do not think that is a good idea any more. This is for several reasons, but the two biggest are that 1) 99.99999% of students (that’s a real number and a conservative estimate if my calculations are correct) will not be killed via gunfire at schools if conditions remain unchanged and 2) large scale central planning tends to result in unwarranted disasters, not solutions.
I also think it’s a bad idea to arm teachers, depending on what exactly that means. Again, if we’re talking about a large scale scheme, it’s bound to fail. And offering bonuses to teachers who agree to carry a weapon, as President Trump recently suggested, seems like a breeding ground for perverse incentives. The teachers who are most desperate for supplemental income are probably the last ones who should be tasked with carrying a deadly weapon around kids.
A better approach that would require far less coordination, planning, and use of resources would be for schools and school districts to independently reconsider their gun-free zone statuses (Trump criticized gun-free zones too). Rather than setting a blanket policy that inadvertently gives violent criminals an edge, administrators should quietly conduct an inquiry to find out if anyone on their staff is a trained marksman who might be willing to carry a pistol at school. This does not need to be headline news or landmark legislation. This should be a local, not a global, initiative.
Though it may come as a surprise, legally-armed citizens are one of the least likely demographics to commit gun crimes and crimes overall. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, police officers are guilty of gun crimes at a rate of about 16.5 violations per 100,000 officers. Concealed carry permit holders, on the other hand, only commit 2.4 gun crimes per 100,000 individuals.
The overall crime rate among police officers is 103 crimes per 100,000 officers. While this rate is 37 times lower than the general population, it’s six times higher than Americans with concealed carry permits.
What’s more is that of all the gun crime committed in the United States, less than a fifth is done with legally-owned firearms. A whopping 79% of gun crimes are committed by individuals carrying a weapon of which they are not the legal owner.
Apart from schools themselves, news outlets may also be able to do their part. Ben Shapiro’s website The Daily Wire recently announced that it will no longer publish the names or images of mass murderers. Shapiro cites a 2016 psychological study to explain why:
“As Professor Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy of Western New Mexico University found in a paper presented to the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in 2016, ‘media contagion’ can help make mass shootings more common. ‘Unfortunately,’ said Johnston, ‘we find that a cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is desire for fame.’ The rise of such a trait in mass shooters, she claimed, rose ‘in correspondence to the emergence of widespread 24-hours news coverage on cable news programs, and the rise of the internet during the same period.’ Johnston recommended a media pact to ‘no longer share, reproduce, or retweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years.’”
Shapiro argues that “the value of public knowledge regarding specific names and photographs of mass shooters is significantly outweighed by the possibility of encouraging more mass shootings.” Even if the Johnson and Joy study is overzealous in its conclusions, I concur with Shapiro that the risk overshadows the reward tremendously.
I do not publish the names or images of mass shooters on How to Cure Your Liberalism, and I never will. I hope the mainstream media will follow suit, but I’m not keeping my hopes up.
If the media refuses to help, perhaps law enforcement could step up by actually doing their effing jobs. The performances by both local and federal authorities surrounding the Parkland shooting would make for excellent comedy if they hadn’t resulted in 17 deaths.
First off, it’s been reported that police were called to the shooter’s house 39 times for various reasons over the past seven years. Eight of those instances and their circumstances, which include explicit concerns over shooting up a school, occurred over the past two years and can be read about here.
At CNN’s recent town hall on gun policy, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had the gall to blame gun policy and the NRA for the shooting instead of his own department’s incompetence.
Beyond local police, the FBI was tipped off directly on two separate occasions regarding the shooter’s potential to actually go through with it. A YouTube commenter with the shooter’s name wrote “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” in September 2017, and the uploader reported it to the FBI. On January 5th, the FBI was contacted again, this time by an individual close to the shooter who specifically warned of his potential to commit mass murder. The FBI did not follow up on either of these reports.
Maybe most egregiously, resource officer Scot Peterson was present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School throughout the entire massacre. Stunningly, he chose to remain outside instead of engaging the shooter.
But that’s not all. In 2015, the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s ‘resident on campus’ program was under audit. The program was designed to provide after-hours security for schools by having police officers live (rent-free) in trailers on campus. The chair of the 2015 audit was so embarrassed by the condition of the program that he said he would “shut it down immediately.” Officers were not available during times of need, did not file necessary paperwork, and were ineffective in reducing theft and vandalism altogether.
Amazingly, Peterson himself was quoted rebutting the results of the audit: “These colleagues work hard. We are crime prevention, an audit report will never show how much we prevent.”
Many people argue that to prevent gun crime, just enforce the laws on the books. Considering the pathetic performance in Broward County, I wonder whether or not we should be leaving so much of our security in the hands of law enforcement in the first place. Perhaps private citizens should start to look for solutions on their own instead of waiting for the government to take action.
One idea that puts people in control of violence prevention comes from National Review’s David French. French suggests that, instead of blanket gun control laws, individuals with good reason to believe that a family member or colleague is primed to commit an act of violence should request a gun-violence restraining order (GVRO) that would temporary suspend the subject’s Second Amendment rights. I highly recommend taking a look at French’s idea in more detail, but keep due process in mind as you think it through.
It’s a shame that this discussion needs to be had, but this is the deck we’ve been dealt. Let’s stay level-headed and put our best ideas forward.