Another school shooting, this time by a 15-year-old at Saugus High School in California, another quest for answers. Yet, 20 years after Columbine, the United States is still looking for how to stop mass public shootings. The rest of the world, where mass public shootings are actually much more common, is also looking for solutions. Russia, France, Finland, and Norway are among the European countries that have experienced far more deaths per capita from these attacks.
Change is coming, if slowly, in the United States. Earlier this year Florida and Texas passed major improvements to their laws that are significantly increasing the number of teachers with guns at school. Both bills received strong support from those states’ Republican governors.
Florida’s bill removed a limitation that only allowed non-classroom-based teachers to defend the classroom. Texas removed the cap on the number of school personnel that can carry firearms at schools.
It isn’t by coincidence that every mass public shooting in Europe since at least 1990 has occurred in an area where general, law-abiding citizens are banned from carrying firearms for protection, and for recent mass public shootings in New Zealand, Brazil, and the Netherlands. That has also held true for 94% of such attacks in the U.S. since 1950.
Moms Demand Action, a gun control advocacy group funded by Michael Bloomberg, argues that the bills in Texas and Florida “would make school a much more dangerous place for our children.” By contrast, President Trump keeps proposing arming teachers and staff at schools, saying: “I’m telling you that would work.”
But 20 states currently allow teachers and staff to carry guns to varying degrees on school property, so we don’t need to guess about how safe these schools are. Some states have had these rules for decades. In recent decades, only California and Rhode Island have moved to be more restrictive. The Crime Prevention Research Center, of which I am the president, has just released a new report looking at all the school shootings of any type in the United States from 2000 through 2018.
During these years, Utah, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and parts of Oregon allowed all permitted teachers and staff to carry, without any additional training requirements. Other states leave it to the discretion of the local superintendent or school board. As of December 2018, teachers carried in more than 30 percent of Texas school districts. And in September 2018, Ohio teachers were carrying in over 200 school districts.
Roughly 5 percent of Utah teachers carry permitted concealed handguns at school, according to Clark Aposhian, the senior member of Utah’s Concealed Firearm Review Board. Support staff — including janitors, librarians, secretaries, and lunch staff — carry at a higher estimated rate of between 10 and 12 percent.
Carrying in a school is no different than in a grocery store, movie theater, or restaurant. Seventeen million Americans have concealed handgun permits — which is 8.75 percent of the adult population outside of permit-unfriendly California and New York. Nobody knows whether the person next to them might have a gun, unless it happens to be needed………..
Not a single person has been injured or killed by a teacher’s gun. But even more amazing, not a single person has been shot during school hours. Gun control groups may paint fearful pictures of what might go wrong with teachers carrying, but that fear gets harder to push given these programs’ successes. This research provides evidence that armed teachers deter attacks.
It is past time for us to do something that really works. With another mass public shooting in California, it is time for California to recognize that its gun control laws might actually be part of the problem. Let’s stop leaving our schoolchildren as sitting ducks.