Gun control folley

My high school was filled with guns and no one was ever shot.

I lived in a rural area in Ohio and graduated from high school in 1976. On any given day, there would be students with guns in their lockers and guns in their vehicles parked on school grounds. Usually these were kids going hunting before or after school. Students also brought guns to work on in wood shop or metal shop classes.

Based on current hype, one would expect that the mere presence of so many guns would have resulted in OK Corral-type shootouts on a regular basis. That never happened. My high school had its share of bullies and crazy people, but no one chose to release pent-up frustration by murder.

Although the weapons were mainly shotguns and rifles, if someone had decided to go on a spree and kill multiple students, he probably could have easily done so. Small-town police response was slow. There were no cell phones, so anyone reporting the crime would need to make it to the office—a daunting task when confronted by an armed killer.

The lack of mass murder had nothing to do with guns. The reality is that crazy people who want to kill others have been successful in doing so throughout recorded history. Guns are often a convenient weapon of choice. But in reality, a determined assassin will find a suitable weapon.

If there had been a killing rampage, it would not have attracted the level of attention that such events bring today. There was no Internet. There were three television networks and the closest local news affiliates were some distance away. There was a weekly newspaper. By the time word got out about a deranged lunatic who went on a rampage it would have been old news and coverage would have been sparse or non-existent.

Although random mass shootings get more attention today, those who research the subject note that spree shootings are not becoming more common.

The terms “amok” and “berserk” are used in English to describe situations or individuals out of control. The words have Mayan and Norse origins and originally referred to people who went on killing sprees. Both words have been around for centuries. This is obviously not a modern or American phenomenon.

England has strict laws that severely limit gun access. Yet in the 1987 Hungerford massacre Michael Ryan killed 16 people and wounded 15 others before committing suicide. Australia also has rigorous gun control laws, but in 1996 Martin Bryant killed 35 people and wounded 21 before police stopped him.

The first mass school shooting in the United States occurred on July 26, 1764. Four American Indians in Greencastle, Pennsylvania shot a teacher and 10 students. Apparently groups of unarmed children have long been viewed as easy targets. Given the date, I suspect the weapons were single shot muzzle-loading muskets. Those were the assault weapons of that era and apparently they were effective.

The shooting in Connecticut occurred in spite of a state ban on assault weapons. The Columbine massacre was not prevented by a national ban on assault weapons. The shooter in the Trolley Square spree killings in Utah used a shotgun and handgun.

Proximity to specific types of weapons is not an inducement to murder. Banning a class of weapons will not deter a crazy man who goes berserk or amok. Men with explosives, men with swords, and even men using vehicles have committed mass killings.

There are abundant studies and research that shows stricter gun control does little to prevent spree killings or to reduce other types of violent crimes. Focusing prevention efforts on gun control will never work.




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