Jewish World ReviewJune 10, 1999 /26 Sivan 5759
Mass shootings and mass hysteria
IN A WORLD of emotional-outburst TV shows and dumbed-down education, it may not be so surprising that the deaths of
15 people have stampeded Congress toward laws affecting more than a quarter of a billion Americans and their descendants.
That stampede is called "gun control."
The tragic irony is that such laws are much more likely to increase shooting deaths
than to reduce them. For those of us old-fashioned enough to think that facts still matter, comprehensive research has shown
that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons reduces gun violence, as well as other kinds of violence.
Unfortunately, facts may carry very little weight politically, in the midst of an emotional orgy with rhetorical posturing. Yet the
evidence is overwhelming that allowing law-abiding citizens to be armed has reduced violence in general and mass shootings
For those to whom facts still matter, John Lott's book "More Guns, Less Crime" presents overwhelming
evidence. Another study of his, with Professor William Landes of the University of Chicago as co-author, addresses mass
shootings, such as those which have been taking place in schools, post offices and other public places. These shooting
rampages have been far more common in places where there are strong gun control laws. No matter what other factors
these authors take into account -- poverty, race, population density, etc. -- the results are still the same. Places with many
armed citizens have fewer mass shootings. Their data cover mass shootings in every state and the District of Columbia, going
back nearly two decades.
Congress would do well to call Lott and Landes as witnesses who could provide some
much-needed education for the public and the media, as well as for the legislators who are being rushed toward
ill-considered legislation. Gun control laws have a bad track record, however popular they may be in some quarters.
about it: People who are committing illegal acts are not going to be stopped because guns are illegal. What does stop them
then? Often it is somebody else with a gun. Indeed, such shootings may not occur at all in places where there is a high
probability of encountering armed resistance, either from an intended victim or from someone else on the scene in a public
place. If those who are asking emotionally, "How can we stop these school shootings?" were serious, they might discover
that some of these shootings have in fact been stopped by an armed adult at the school. None of them would have been
stopped by the kinds of gun control laws that Congress is currently being stampeded into passing.
Waiting periods? The
young murderers in Colorado waited longer than any waiting period ever suggested before carrying out their well-planned
orgy of death. "Assault weapons" ban? Such bans would not have applied to the kinds of guns that were used. Nor would
the Columbine High School tragedy have been prevented by programs for "troubled youths." The Columbine killers had
already been given a clean bill of health by shrinks running such programs. So had the young killers in another school mass
shooting. The track record of psycho-babble is miserable, however popular it may be in the media.
Some people support
gun control laws simply because they are opposed to guns. We may all agree that the world would be a better place if guns
had never been invented. The same could be said for everything from bows and arrows to nuclear weapons.
is no way to unring the bell. The only options available to us today involve choices about what to do now, given that all these
deadly things exist and cannot be made to disappear, no matter what kinds of words we put on paper.
In a country where
there are millions of guns available illegally to criminals, the real question is whether we should allow potential victims be
armed as well. Even people who never carry a gun are less likely to become victims in a community where concealed
weapons are widely permitted to law-
abiding citizens, because the criminal has no way of knowing who is armed and who isn't.
Statistics on gun accident
deaths need to be weighed against statistics on reduced murders where gun ownership is widespread. The latter far more
than balance the former -- but only if facts
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©1999, Creators Syndicate