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Study: Mass School Shootings Very Rare; Not Worse Than 1990s

Before we turn schools into armed fortresses and ban every gun in sight, it’s worth getting a little perspective.

A new study shows that school shootings are exceedingly rare events – not that there should ever be any – and that things were just as bad or worse in the 1990s.

I agree with efforts the strengthen background checks and raise the age at which one can purchase a rifle or a shotgun from 18 to 21. It’s already 21 for handguns. Yes, we send our kids to war at 18, but we train them damn well first. I don’t think high school students should be able to purchase guns. I just don’t.

It doesn’t mean they can’t go hunting with their parents or shoot at a range. It just means they can’t buy the gun.

But the problem is that the left is going to use warnings of an “epidemic” to curtail the gun rights of law abiding citizens and ban them from purchasing certain weapons with which to hunt and defend themselves. So it’s worth a sober look at whether there actually is an “epidemic.”

According to the study, an early version of which was published on the Northeastern University website:

The deadly school shooting this month in Parkland, Florida, has ignited national outrage and calls for action on gun reform. But while certain policies may help decrease gun violence in general, it’s unlikely that any of them will prevent mass school shootings, according to James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern.

Mass school shootings are incredibly rare events. In research publishing later this year, Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel found that on average, mass murders occur between 20 and 30 times per year, and about one of those incidents on average takes place at a school.

Four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than today, Fox said.

Fox said, however, some policy changes aimed at decreasing school shootings and gun violence in general certainly have merit. Banning bump stocks and raising the age of purchase for assault rifles from 18 to 21 are good ideas, and may lead to a decrease in overall gun violence, he said. But he doesn’t believe these measures will prevent school shootings. “The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround,” Fox said, adding that over the past 35 years, there have been only five cases in which someone ages 18 to 20 used an assault rifle in a mass shooting.

Fridel said increasing mental health resources for students is another strategy that might improve school safety, calling this a critical need that has been historically overlooked.

4 Responses to Study: Mass School Shootings Very Rare; Not Worse Than 1990s

  1. There has been oh-so-much discussion on the whys and what happened that it’s hard to get a bead on the crisis. It is a crisis when schoolchildren are mowed down by one crazy after another.
    A lot of old fogeys like myself have related how guns in schools were tolerated in days gone by, mostly during the hunting season in some states. It wasn’t unusual to see long guns displayed in the rear window of pickup trucks in school parking lots, and of course, when families had multiple guns/firearms in their homes.
    The point is that young people were familiar with firearms and the damage they can do. It was also pointed out that some students (and teachers) were armed during school hours.
    This fact is exactly what some are advocating to prevent the school carnage – the next time.
    My peers were no more sane or crazy than today’s children/adults.
    The big elephant is the “no-gun” state of certain places – it’s almost an invitation to someone bent on acting out some revenge or some crazy voices in their heads.
    IMO, we don’t need the National Guard patrolling our schools, nor do we need to arm teachers to protect anyone.
    A simple approach like that used in government buildings and other places is a sensible way to address this issue.

  2. We cannot prevent the next shooter right now. It will happen. But we can take reasonable steps for the future:

    Ban any gun sale prior to age 21.
    30 day waiting period.
    Revise HIPAA to allow professionals to report challenged people and put them on the no buy list.
    Add a new tax to gun and ammo purchases that will fund metal detectors in schools.
    Ban assault rifles permanently.

    Revisit the mental health issue and help those at risk, even after they hit the legal age of 18. Right now, a parent loses all control at 18. Trust me, I’ve seen it personally.


    • Excellent points, Harv – especially on the mental health issue. In an old episode of The Simpsons, mother Marge laid it down when describing son Bart’s troubled schoolmate Nelson…

      “Nelson’s a troubled, lonely, sad little boy. He needs to be isolated from everyone.”

      Harsh (and a cartoon, obviously), but those at risk need help – all the warning signs can’t be ignored, with no recourse for those who can help.

  3. I’m not sure whether to laugh, cry or bang my head against a wall. The usual suspects have used a bunch of more or less traumatized teenagers to peddle their narrative of hatred against the NRA, against law-abiding citizens, and against a firearm that’s ubiquitous across the country in hundreds of thousands of homes. All this, while the reasons for this latest episode are as day — a local sheriff’s office and a federal law enforcement agency that blew off and failed to act on a blizzard of tips and warnings about the danger Cruz presented to the kids at that school. Then, of course, we have the Obama-Holder policy of paying local school and enforcement agencies to NOT arrest suspected student offenders. Why? Because it offended — who, exactly? Minorities? politicians? some freaking moron at the ACLU? Steps can be taken to tighten the NCIS system, which could be much more efficient than it is now. Raise the age for someone to buy a rifle? Some states already have such restrictions. I haven’t seen any so-called pundits note that Florida doesn’t allow the purchase of a handgun until age 21, but does allow purchase of a rifle at 18. That makes sense if you understand that most homicides by firearm are committed with a handgun. The law, as Keith notes, can be strengthened and adjusted to allow for supervising and training youngsters in the safe handling of weapons. Oh, and while we’re on the subject — there is no organization in the country which does more along those lines: training, coaching, safety, than the NRA. And they have a fully activated program in being for helping schools ‘harden’ to resist assaults like Stoneman-Douglas. Check it out:

    But, what the hell…let’s jump all over the NRA with track spikes on, lets scream and holler about so-called ‘assault’ rifles which are not, and let’s allow a bunch of teenagers to dictate national policy while being used by the anti-gun mob in their never-ending quest to strip the Second Amendment out of the Constitution, one gun at a time.