Say, anyone interested in actual facts about guns, violence, and schools? If so, Reason’s Nick Gillespie and Amanda Winkler have five key points about the actual status of school safety and the impact of guns on American society. The truth is that violent crime and mass shootings have declined since the 1990s, even with events like Newtown and Aurora. Schools are safer now than in decades. However, those data points don’t lend themselves to hysterics hopng to panic people into bad legislation that won’t solve the problems they supposedly address:
1. Violent crime – including violent crime using guns – has dropped massively over the past 20 years.
The violent crime rate – which includes murder, rape, and beatings – is half of what it was in the early 1990s. And the violent crime rate involving the use of weapons has also declined at a similar pace.
2. Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.
Despite terrifying events like Sandy Hook or last summer’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, mass shootings are not becoming more frequent. “There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Northeastern University, who studies the issue. Other data shows that mass killings peaked in 1929.
3. Schools are getting safer.
Across the board, schools are less dangerous than they used be. Over the past 20 years, the rate of theft per 1,000 students dropped from 101 to 18. For violent crime, the victimization rate per 1,000 students dropped from 53 to 14.
4. There Are More Guns in Circulation Than Ever Before.
Over the past 20 years, virtually every state in the country has liberalized gunownership rules and many states have expanded concealed carry laws that allow more people to carry weapons in more places. There around 300 million guns in the United States and at least one gun in about 45 percent of all households. Yet the rate of gun-related crime continues to drop.
5. “Assault Weapons Bans” Are Generally Ineffective.
While many people are calling for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons – an arbitrary category of guns that has no clear definition – research shows it would have no effect on crime and violence. “Should it be renewed,” concludes a definitive study, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
We have a violence-glorification problem, but that’s not something a law can fix or a government stamp out — nor should we wish to live in a society where it’s tried. We need to start pushing back in the culture against the glorification of violence and death, not with legislation, but by defending values of life in the public arena. We do not hide behind failed legal approaches (ask Chicago and Washington DC how well gun bans worked for them) as an avoidance measure to deal with issues of mental illness and the degradation of values in our society.