Almost two years after a shooter murdered 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the Department of Justice released a 575-page report on Thursday. The document confirmed what we already knew from Texas’ report last July. The police made serious mistakes and shouldn’t have waited outside the classroom. There is one big difference between the two reports. The Justice Department report starts its executive summary by emphasizing that the attack used “an AR-15 style assault rifle.”
But what can we do when the police don’t save the day?
Mass Murderers Pick Soft Targets
With guns being banned at the Uvalde school, there was little prospect of teachers or staff fighting back. Had the school allowed guns, the shooter might not have attacked at all. After reading the Nashville Covenant School murderer’s manifesto last year, Nashville Police Chief John Drake revealed: “There was another location that was mentioned, but because of a threat assessment by the suspect of too much security, they decided not to.”
The killer considered two public schools but passed on them because “the security was too great to do what she wanted to do,” according to Nashville City Council member Robert Swope.
Twenty states already allow teachers to carry concealed handguns. In Utah and New Hampshire, any teacher with a concealed handgun permit can carry. In other states, it is up to school boards or superintendents to decide. And there have been no shootings in schools with armed teachers.
The reports focus on the failure of police. It is understandable that police are fearful of running toward an attacker. Teachers in the classroom, however, have no choice but to defend their lives and the lives of their students.
Biden’s Useless Strategy
Universal Background Checks
President Joe Biden is pushing a few gun-control proposals in light of the Justice Department’s new report. His first proposal is for “universal” background checks on private transfers of guns. But the Uvalde murderer didn’t obtain the gun through a private transfer, and he passed a federal background check.
There isn’t one mass shooting in this century that universal background checks would have stopped, but don’t expect Democrats’ accomplice media to challenge the Biden administration on that.
Biden’s second proposal is to impose “red-flag” laws that allow judges to temporarily confiscate guns from people who might endanger themselves or others. All 50 states already have civil commitment laws that allow for such confiscation. Unlike red-flag laws, however, civil commitment laws provide for evaluations by mental health experts and emergency court hearings with free legal counsel provided. Judges also have recourse to more temperate options, such as mandatory outpatient mental health care, which doesn’t infringe on people’s freedom to the degree that firearms confiscation does.
With red-flag laws, the judge sees only a written complaint before making his decision. The judge doesn’t talk to any of the parties involved.
‘Assault Weapons’ Ban
Biden’s third proposal is to ban “assault weapons,” but it’s not clear what this even means. The Associated Press Stylebook, which influences the news media, now acknowledges that “assault weapons” conveys “little meaning.” AP admits the term is “highly politicized.” The oft-maligned AR-15 is, in fact, functionally identical to small-caliber semi-automatic hunting rifles. An “assault weapons” ban will mostly target guns that are designed to merely look militaristic in their aesthetics.
‘Assault Weapons Ban’ Did Nothing
Many studies examined the federal “assault weapons ban” that was in effect from 1994 to 2004. They consistently found no statistically significant effect on mass public shootings or any other type of crime.
Even research funded by the Clinton administration failed to find evidence that the ban lowered any type of crime rate. Criminology professors Chris Koper and Jeff Roth concluded in a 1997 report for the National Institute of Justice, “The evidence is not strong enough for us to conclude that there was any meaningful effect (i.e., that the effect was different from zero).”
Koper and Roth suggested at the time that it might be possible to find a benefit after the ban had been in effect for a longer time. In 2004, they published a follow-up NIJ study with fellow criminologist Dan Woods and found that “there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”
Biden’s claim that the 1994 ban reduced mass shootings relies on one researcher’s unique definition. This definition inconsistently included fights between drug gangs over turf. But even with that definition, there was no statistically significant change in the number of attacks or fatalities of mass public shootings with so-called assault weapons. The researcher looked at total mass public shootings and not just those with “assault weapons.” Instead, the increase in shootings without “assault weapons” drove the growth in attacks. The percentage of attacks with so-called assault weapons fell once the ban became obsolete — just the opposite of what proponents of the ban would expect.
Gun-control advocates attack their opponents as proposing nothing more than “thoughts and prayers.” There have been eight mass shootings at K-12 schools since 2000 that murdered four or more people. One is too much. Everyone wants to stop these attacks, but let’s do something that actually works. Pushing gun-control laws that only disarm law-abiding citizens isn’t the solution.