Debate on guns in US schools

The Parkland, Florida shooting last week has stirred up debate about access to firearms and gun violence, a major problem in the United States.

From the Gun Violence Archive 2018:

  • Total number of incidents 7,803
  • Number of deaths 2,138
  • Number of injuries 3,651
  • Deaths from mass shootings 34
  • Deaths from defensive use 224
  • Unintentional shooting 248

Number of deaths, past years:

  • 2014 – 12,556 (271 from mass shootings)
  • 2015 – 13,516 (333 from mass shootings)
  • 2016 – 15,094 (383 from mass shootings)
  • 2017 – 15,594 (346 from mass shootings)

Horrendous and rising alarmingly. Per population, that rate of deaths would equate to about 230 gun deaths per year in New Zealand.

Students across the country are protesting –  After Parkland, Students Across the U.S. Are Holding Protest Walkouts Over Gun Violence

In a wave of demonstrations reaching from Arizona to Maine, students at dozens of U.S. high schools walked out of class Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the victims of last week’s deadly shooting in Florida.

The protests spread from school to school as students shared plans for their demonstrations over social media. Many lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Hundreds of students from Maryland schools left class to rally at the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds more filed out of their schools in cities from Chicago to Pittsburgh to Austin, Texas, often at the lunch hour. Thousands walked out in Florida.

At the protest in Washington, students held a moment of silence in memory of those killed in Parkland and listened as the names of the dead were recited.

While some groups have worked to organize national demonstrations in the coming weeks, students say gatherings Wednesday were mostly impromptu and organized out of a sense of urgency to find solutions to gun violence.

Many of the protests were accompanied by chants of “Never again,” which has been a rallying cry since the Florida shooting.

However the voice of well organised resistance to gun control has also been heard: NRA’s Wayne LaPierre at CPAC: Gun Control Advocates Are Exploiting the Florida School Shooting Tragedy

Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President, told the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday that politicians and the media are exploiting the Florida school shooting to expand gun control and ultimately abolish the second amendment, striking a defiant tone in his first public remarks since the mass shooting that killed 17 people and reignited the gun control debate in the U.S. to a fever pitch.

“As usual, the opportunists waited not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. Chris Murphy, Nancy Pelosi, and more, cheered on by the national media, eager to blame the NRA and call for more government control.”

“They hate the NRA. The elites don’t care one wit about school children. If they truly cared, they would protect them.”

“It’s not a safety issue, it’s a political issue. They care more about control. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eliminate all individual freedoms.”

“They don’t care if their laws work or not. They just want get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA, the NRA does care.”

He concluded this year’s speech by reiterating the advice he provided in the wake of Newtown five years ago: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Having less bad guys and less guns would help too.

President Trump has been criticised for proposing to arm thousands of teachers to protect schools. He ‘clarified’ his suggestion on Twitter:

I never said “give teachers guns” like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC.

What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.

There are about 3.2 million public school teachers in the US. 20% of that is 640,000 teachers. That is a lot of people to arm and train to a high level on an ongoing basis.

An armed policeman heard the shooting at Parkland but never went inside. Miami Herald: “A school campus cop heard the gunfire and rushed to the building but never went inside — instead waiting outside for another four agonizing minutes as Cruz continued the slaughter.” He has since resigned. What should one person do in that situation? very difficult to know.

Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!

History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!

If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!

Armed police and offensive tactics have not solved a huge death toll from gun violence in the US.

And teachers don’t seem to be very keen.

The culture of gun ownership and gun violence in the US is so ingrained and staunchly defended it is hard to see any easy fixes, especially when the President proposes escalation.

And when the NRA is so financially influential in US politics.

When 17-year-old student Cameron Kasky took the microphone at CNN’s town hall on Wednesday night, he put Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on the spot when he asked: Would you refuse to accept further campaign donations from the National Rifle Association?

After a moment, Rubio gave his answer: No, he wouldn’t.

Rubio has been on the receiving end of some of the largest financial support from the NRA over the years.
His hesitancy to distance himself from the organization shows how many in Congress have come to rely on the NRA’s largesse to help them remain in office — and their fear of crossing a group legendary for its ability to get its supporters out to vote.

According to federal election data compiled by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, eight lawmakers have been on the receiving end of at least $1 million in campaign contributions from the NRA over the courses of their careers, Rubio among them.

 

 

 

The lethal US

As usual after a major massacre in the United States the issue of firearms violence, violence in general, imprisonment rates and other alarming statistics re-surface for a while, but things largely remain the same.

CNN: America the lethal

Americans often think of themselves as belonging to an exceptional nation, and in many ways they do.

Americans tend to be exceptional at praising themselves.

But the United States also leads the world in other ways that don’t match the often complacent self-conception that many Americans have of their own country. The United States locks up more of its population proportionally than any other country in the world, including authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies.

It also leads in another dubious statistic: More Americans are killed by fellow citizens armed with guns than in any other advanced country, according to the Small Arms Survey.

In 2011 alone, according to FBI statistics, more than 11,000 Americans were killed by firearms in the United States (a figure that excludes suicides).

Despite all the reasonable concerns in the United States about jihadist terrorism, in any given year Americans are almost 2,000 times more likely to be killed by a fellow American armed with a gun than by a jihadist terrorist. Since the 9/11 attacks, 95 Americans have been killed by jihadist terrorists, on average about six Americans a year, according to data collected by New America.

Authorities have clamped down on carrying a range of things of dubious threat on planes, but the US remains awash with lethal weapons. About have of privately owned weapons in the world are in the US.

Stephen Paddock, the perpetrator of the Las Vegas concert massacre, was found to have 23 weapons in his hotel room, and a similar number plus explosives in his home.

By contrast, in the United Kingdom, a country which is similar to the United States in terms of its laws and culture, Britain suffers around 50-60 gun deaths a year in a country where the population is around a fifth the size of the United States.

In other words, you are about 40 times more likely to be killed by an assailant with a gun in the United States than you are in the United Kingdom.

To be sure there are occasional mass-casualty attacks in Europe by murderers armed with guns, such as the assaults by the neo-Nazi Anders Breivik who killed 77 in Norway in 2011 and the attack in Dunblane, Scotland at a school where 16 children were killed in 1996, but these are exceptions to the rule.

President Donald Trump has said US will ‘be talking about gun laws as time goes by’:

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the US will “be talking about gun laws as time goes by” in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the nation’s deadliest in modern history.

“Look, we have a tragedy … and what happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job,” Trump said at the White House before he left for Puerto Rico.

The President was asked about a gun bill currently making its way through the House that would loosen restrictions on purchasing gun silencers.

Trump said that he would talk about that later.He didn’t answer when reporters pressed him about whether the shooting was an act of “domestic terrorism.”

Whether it is labelled terrorism or not is just semantics.

The US continues to have a huge problem with crime and violence and firearms, and with the National Rifle Association being one of the strongest lobby groups in the US.

NRASafestPlace

Who are they trying to fool? Oh, that’s right, politicians. Successfully.

While 59 dead in one incident is extraordinary, the current death count from firearms in the US this year  is 11,689. There have been  274 ‘mass shootings’.

Little is likely to change, apart from the location of the next massacre, and the number of  casualties.