School Shootings: There Are No Solutions
“There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” – Thomas Sowell
In a country where we have a constitutional right to bear arms, there is no gun control law: that could have prevented the mass murder at Sandy Hook. There was already a “gun free zone” in place, which Lanza ignored. He stole the weapons and the semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 rifle he used was not impacted by the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994-2004.
Some people have suggested that we arm teachers as the Israelis do. It’s worth keeping in mind that while there are a few exceptions, military service is compulsory for both men and women in Israel. In other words, almost the entire population is comfortable handling weaponry in a way that most public school teachers in the United States wouldn’t be. Insisting that all of these teachers carry firearms just isn’t going to be practical.
Others have noted that Adam Lanza was a strange kid and that perhaps he should have been institutionalized. Given what we know about the Aurora shooter, James Holmes, you might be able to make that case about him, but Lanza had never been in trouble with the law and to the best of our knowledge right now, there were no indications he was dangerous before the killings. If we start institutionalizing every weird, shy kid in the country, their numbers would mount into the tens of millions and while online gaming profits might plunge, it probably wouldn’t make a dent in the crime rate. You could make a better case for putting away more obviously disturbed and violent offenders, but the ACLU has been fighting to keep those people on the streets for years and in all fairness, 99.9999999% of them aren’t going do anything like this.
We can talk about God being taken out of schools, a culture of violence, violent video games, etc., but changing a culture is unsteady, slow and uncertain work even if people buy into it, which is far from a given. Could we change some of those things? Sure, but it would require a revitalization of Christianity in this country and that’s not going to happen as a result of a school shooting.
The one thing we could do that might have a practical impact would be to put an armed security guard at every school in the nation. Is that doable? Yes, but it would be very expensive. There are roughly: 140,000: schools in the United States. Figure $50,000 a head for each security guard in expenses and benefits and you’re talking a cost of $70,000,000,000. Moreover, that’s just one guy. The shooting could happen on the other side of the campus or the shooter could kill him by surprise first and then move on to the students. A killer could easily kill a classroom full of kids before a guard shows up….or more likely, if we had armed security guards at schools, we’d have just as many shooters, but they’d simply target other locales that are softer targets.
Setting all this aside, the largest mass killing at a school in U.S. history was done with bombs in 1927. It produced a death toll of: 45 dead with 58 wounded.
As people in the military sometimes say, “If someone is willing to give his own life to kill you, he’s got a pretty good chance of succeeding.” That’s just the sad truth and anyone telling you otherwise and promising to “fix” the problem in return for your giving up a little bit more of your freedom isn’t telling you the truth.
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