Tragically, this isn’t the first time we’ve used this space to discuss a mass shooting at an American school. It happens all too frequently. Seventeen people — 14 students and three staff members — were killed on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
We have advocated for a renewed ban on high-capacity magazines, which was one of the components of the assault-weapons ban in place in the United States from 1994 to 2004. Any gun is lethal, but the absence of a high-capacity magazine would allow more people to escape from shooters such as the suspect in the Parkland school shooting.
A study by Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts-Boston found that “compared with the 10-year period before the ban, the number of gun massacres (six or more people shot and killed) during the ban period fell by 37 percent, and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43 percent. But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers shot up again — an astonishing 183 percent increase in massacres and a 239 percent increase in massacre deaths,” the Washington Post reported.
That’s not an emotional response, as those responding to the slaughter of children seeking an education are often accused of demonstrating. That’s evidence.
In the wake of the horrific mass shooting on Oct. 1 at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas — in which 59 people were killed by gunfire and 422 more were wounded — we called for a ban on bump stocks, devices which can convert a semiautomatic weapon into, essentially, a fully automatic weapon. A bump stock was instrumental in the Las Vegas shooter’s murderous rampage. We’re still waiting for Congress to take action on that.
(President Trump on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department on Tuesday to issue regulations banning bump stocks.)
We’re also in favor in measures that would make schools, to use military lingo, less of a soft target for the lethally armed. Such measures would include reinforced exterior doors and armed security personnel, including police officers.
One of the other commonalities among mass shooters in recent years is mental-health issues, people behaving in a manner that would make any rational person think “the last thing I want that person to have access to right now is a deadly weapon.”
David French, a senior writer at the National Review, wrote a thought-provoking piece published Feb. 16 under the headline “A Gun-Control Measure Conservatives Should Consider.” We join French in advocating for the widespread passage into law of gun-violence restraining orders.
“What if, however, there was an evidence-based process for temporarily denying a troubled person access to guns?” French writes. “What if this process empowered family members and others close to a potential shooter, allowing them to ‘do something’ after they ‘see something’ and ‘say something?’”
California passed a GVRO statute in 2014, and it went into effect in 2016; other states are in the process of considering comparable measures. In general, they permit a spouse, parent, sibling, or person living with a troubled individual to petition a court for an order enabling law enforcement to temporarily take that individual’s guns right away; the individual can contest the petition; in the event of an emergency, a hearing can be scheduled within 72 hours; and the order should lapse after a definite period of time unless petitioners can present convincing evidence that the order should remain in place.
As with banning high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, no, implementation of gun-violence restraining orders will not stop every person determined to go into a school and start shooting.
But we’re tired of, and angry about, the repeated sight of students walking single file out of their own schools, hands above their heads, because another school-shooting incident has taken place and law enforcement officers have to separate the victims from the suspects.
There are ways we can simultaneously keep students safe in their schools and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Some of those ways are listed above.
There are ways we can simultaneously keep students safe in their schools and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.