Studies find that gun-free zones leave law-abiding citizens vulnerable. Law-abiding citizens will not carry a weapon into a gun-free zone, leaving them vulnerable to criminals who carry illegal firearms. 94% of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones since 1950.
Last Tuesday in Uvalde Texas an 18-year-old gunman walked into an elementary school and opened fire on children and teachers. 17 children and 2 teachers were killed. The gunman used an AR-style rifle.
There was nobody armed at the school and the police allegedly waited close to an hour before entering the school and shooting the suspect.
What if this happened in Missouri?
There are armed teachers in Missouri. Approved legislation in 2014 allowing properly trained school protection officers in school districts gave Missouri teachers the right to protect their students. Since then, there have been fifty-two designated school protection officers assigned.
It is unknown exactly how many teachers carry firearms in Missouri schools. The R-9 Sunrise School District south of Festus and St. Clair R-XII school district in Franklin County are two districts with teachers trained by Shield Solutions, LLC, West Plains, Missouri.
Shield Solutions, LLC told Channel 4 News in St. Louis that the training is not so easy,
"Teachers and other employees who volunteer for the program receive 40 hours of training initially and 24 hours of retraining each year, and that's only if they can pass the screening to be accepted." -Shield Solutions, LLC
Jason Roberts, President of Local 691, Kansas City Federation of Teachers, thinks it's a bad idea,
"I think the idea of arming teachers is one of the stupidest ideas that you can have."
- Jason Roberts, President of Local 691, Kansas City Federation of Teachers
Roberts believes the possibility of a gun falling into someone else's hands is more worrisome, and teachers known to carry would become targets. He also believes Kansas City schools are secure enough.
According to Shield Solutions, LLC, most schools with guns have gun safes, although it is recommended teachers carry the firearm on their person at all times.
A reactive society.
The FBI concluded in a study on their website focusing on "the school shooters perspective", that society tends to act defensively instead of offensively when figuring out how to protect our children at school.
On Tuesday, the shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, sparked angry reactions on both sides. People become emotional and don't know what to do when something horrific happens. It is a terrifying situation, and no one knows how to fix it.
In the "school shooters perspective" document on the FBI website data claims school shootings are rare,
"This recent form of adolescent violence is in fact quite rare. But the sudden, senseless deaths of teenagers and teachers in the middle of a school day, for no comprehensible reason, is far more shocking and gets far more attention than the less extreme acts of violence that happen in schools every week. - Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG)
The bad news is nothing valid is ever realized from the emotional responses to mass shootings. Every opinion contains a good point but leads to another obstacle. Nothing has seemed to work thus far.
Political agendas and reactions after a tragedy.
Political agendas become known in tragedies such as mass shootings. Beto O'Rourke confronted Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a live press conference regarding the Uvalde school shooting. O'Rourke stood and shouted,
"You are doing nothing, you are offering up nothing, you said this was not predictable," "this was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything." -Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke is running against Abbott for Governor and waited fifteen minutes into the press conference to stand up and blame the Governor claiming Abbott should have predicted the shooting.
Senator Ted Cruz then told him to "sit down and don't play this stunt," and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told O'Rourke he was "out of line and an embarrassment."
The Uvalde Mayor, Don McLaughlin, said, "I can't believe that you're a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue."
Being proactive instead of reactive is essential. It only took the Uvalde shooter a few minutes to kill seventeen kids and two teachers, entering the classroom and barricading himself inside.
When reactions started on Tuesday from the shooting in Texas, a teacher was blamed for leaving a door unlocked; however, the facts have proved differently since the day of the shooting.
It was discovered she saw the shooter coming at the school, and while calling 911, she pulled the door shut, assuming it would lock automatically because it usually did. The lock malfunctioned, and the shooter was able to walk right in. She felt the need to hire an attorney to explain her side of the story due to the emotional response after the shooting.
Depending on an outside agency to save unarmed students and teachers may be naive. In a situation where a suicidal gun-wielding maniac barricades himself in a classroom and instantly starts shooting, nothing is fast enough to make a difference other than someone else with a gun.
"Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation." - St. Mary's College of Maryland, Public Safety Active Shooter Protocol
Anytime a gun is pulled, it is a matter of seconds between life and death, especially in a mass shooting. Once a shooter enters a school with firearms and a bag full of ammo, you can assume he is committed to carrying out an act of violence.
Most shooters shoot immediately.
"An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims." - St. Mary's College of Maryland, Public Safety Active Shooter Protocol
Being proactive, not just predictive, in school safety issues is imperative. Prediction can help, but no policy could have predicted the shooting in Uvalde. The shooter showed no previous felony record or psychiatric history.
In the "school shooters perspective" report on the FBI website, it says predicting who will commit an act of violence such as this is nearly impossible,
"Reliably predicting any type of violence is extremely difficult. Predicting that an individual who has never acted out violently in the past will do so in the future is still more difficult. Seeking to predict acts that occur as rarely as school shootings is almost impossible." - Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG)
The fear people experience when talking about semi-automatic rifles is valid. They can do more damage quicker, and it's alarming. People say there is no reason for the kind of power these types of firearms exhibit. The National Rifle Association says that is not true.
"Semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 are the most popular rifles in the United States for home protection and defensive skills-based firearm training and marksmanship competitions, and they’re increasingly popular among hunters. Ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are standard equipment for many handguns and rifles designed for defensive purposes, they’re commonly used in handguns kept for protection at home and carried for protection away from home, and they’re commonly used in defensive skills-based firearm training and sports." - NRA-ILA
Much damage can ensue before police arrive at a scene and stop the shooter. The NRA-ILA feels banning assault weapons will not change anything.
According to the NRA-ILA website, the facts surrounding "assault weapons" and "large" magazines, tell a different story,
- The congressionally-mandated study of the federal "assault weapon ban" of 1994-2004 found that the ban had no impact on crime, in part because "the banned guns" were never used in more than a modest fraction of gun murders."
- Rifles of any type are used in only two percent of murders. Subsequent research conducted by the RAND Corporation found no conclusive evidence that banning "assault weapons" "or "large" capacity magazines has an effect on mass shootings or violent crime.
- Murder rates were 19.3% higher when the Federal [assault weapon] ban was in effect.
- Americans own over eleven million AR-15s and buy hundreds of thousands of new ones every year.
- AR-15s are the most commonly used rifles in marksmanship competitions, training, and home defense.
- Total violent crime and murder have fallen to near historic lows, while ownership of the firearms and magazines that gun control supporters want banned has risen to all-time highs.
- AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles are not the fully-automatic, military-grade firearms; they are often claimed to be by gun control supporters and the media.
- Ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are standard equipment for many handguns and rifles that Americans keep for self-defense.
So how will a ban on magazine capacity affect gun owners?
Thursday, at a hearing on gun control, Republican Greg Steube of Florida displayed his collection of firearms in a video meeting with his fellow House Judiciary Committee members.
He demonstrated the magazine capacity for his guns and how any ban on magazine capacity would render many handguns useless.
Republicans claim that recent shootings are used as a political tool to gain approval from Americans who are unfamiliar with firearms and their inner workings. If unfamiliar with firearms and their magazines, there is no way to understand the implications of a magazine ban.
There are claims that the misrepresentation of magazine restrictions to people who are not familiar with firearms is a way for anti-gun groups and Democrats to leverage support for banning firearms. Anti-gun supporters don't realize that high-capacity magazines are also used in handguns.
The "Black Market of Weapons."
Semi-automatic rifles are plentiful, and if they cannot be obtained legally, they can easily be bought for a quarter of the price on the "black market."
Many believe if you outlaw certain guns, shooters will not be able to commence a mass shooting. If someone is disturbed enough to carry out an act of violence, such as a mass shooting, obtaining a firearm is secondary to everything else. This week, a man with a knife walked into a hospital and started stabbing people. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Law-abiding citizens do not commit shootings in places like Chicago, St. Louis, & New York City, with high crime rates with legally obtained guns and clean police records. Felons commit these crimes with guns they are legally not allowed to own or carry purchased on the black market.
Criminals can get a gun of their choice much faster and cheaper than law-abiding citizens. However, law-abiding citizens will not go to gun-free zones with a gun and break the law.
It doesn't matter if a gun is worth $2000. On the streets, it's only worth $200-$400. They are all considered throwaways, and they are readily available and cheap. They cannot resell them for their actual value due to their criminal history.
Felons would prefer not to buy guns with paperwork leading back to them and are unwilling to pay the high prices in gun stores. They can get the same thing for a quarter of the cost or even trade drugs for firearms.
The idea that you control felons by enforcing strict gun laws is a heated debate. It seems you immediately give criminals an advantage when enacting zones where people are not allowed to protect themselves. These zones still have guns in them. The criminals have guns, and the law-abiding citizens are helpless. The whole purpose of the 2nd Amendment is so Americans can avoid this very situation.
Although mass shootings are disturbing and horrific, they are the smallest piece of the pie regarding gun violence. Not to say that there cannot be precautions in place, but that 99% of gun violence is NOT related to mass shootings.
Although you see it all over the internet and on the news, it is improbable your child will die this way. More dangerous for your children are homes with guns that are not locked up.
Forty-four percent of U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun, including about a third who say they personally own one, according to a Gallup survey conducted in October 2020. Those are bad odds if you think your child may not visit a home with a gun.
According to the survey, at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children resulted in 765 deaths from 2015 to 2020.
Prevention and teaching gun safety.
Keystone Shooting Center says prevention is not just about predicting what may happen when your child is alone and avoiding those situations but also about being proactive, teaching our youth to be responsible, and educating them in firearm safety.
For instance, you don't tell your child never to look at the water because they can't swim. You send them to swimming lessons and teach them. Learning to swim gives children the skills to survive in the water. At the same time, you don't let them swim alone.
You teach children knives are sharp and dangerous. You teach them not to touch knives and keep them out of reach. You don't get rid of all the knives in your house because your child may stab himself.
Teach your children about guns, take them to a shooting range and show them how loud they are and the damage they do. After that, many will think differently. It's all fun and games when you play cops and robbers with fake guns, but the truth will demonstrate how deadly firearms truly are.
A "red-flag law" where people can report if someone is mentally unstable and may need their firearms confiscated has bipartisan support. Considering most mass shootings are conducted by people in mental crisis, addressing mental health care seems like a step in the right direction.
The flawed mental health system in the United States is a big player. Identifying someone with a mental health issue in time to prevent mass shootings is difficult, especially if they have no access to mental health care.
Making mental health care accessible to people in crisis calls for reform. Without reform, we will continue to see such tragedies.
Raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21 unless a parent or guardian is present is a good idea with bipartisan support. Background checks can weed out people who are not legally permitted to buy guns; however, the people you are weeding out often will not try to buy a gun legally.
On the flip side, the people who commit these horrific acts of violence on innocent children and teachers have shown that they can lawfully jump through hoops and obtain firearms. Now what?
The issues surrounding gun control are many, and with constitutional rights at stake, there is a thin line when deciding what action to take.
Change comes from involvement, and involvement is easier than you think.
What are your thoughts on gun control?
Read another article by Pink Politic about Missouri gun legislation recently passed.