Tragedy strikes when we least expect it, to be sure. Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut was most certainly tragic. In minutes, a lone gunman killed twenty-six people, twenty of them children.
In the hours that followed this terrible event, the news media converged on the scene to report the developments of the investigation that began the moment law enforcement arrived on-site. Details thus far have ranged from the statement that the guns used were most likely purchased legally to the revelation that the media initially implicated the wrong brother (small wonder). At the press conference around 3:20 PM, when President Obama delivered his remarks, there was hardly a dry eye in the room. Even the President paused to wipe away a tear as he spoke to the assembled reporters.
There are several observations I would like to make concerning this event that will, I am sure, provoke intense controversy and (I hope) some serious, thoughtful debate. (One of the things about the current socio-political climate that disquiets me most is the lack of rational debate on issues and events. Instead, we have talking heads and demagogues shouting talking points at each other without a breath’s space to hear what the other person is saying.)
President Obama’s grief was most likely real. Although misguided, he is certainly a sincere individual. He is also a father, and therefore can relate to the pain and grief of the families who lost their loved ones.
President Obama is misguided. One of the most disturbing points of his plan for America is his insatiable desire to confiscate and destroy civilian-owned guns. This deep-rooted hatred of weapons stems from his belief that guns are the problem (i.e., the “guns kill people” philosophy). Those who espouse this position and ideology argue that if we were to enact and enforce stricter regulations and controls on guns, crime rates would drop. They continue to belabor this point in the face of overwhelming evidence that gun control has not decreased the incidence of crime. In fact, in major cities that have stricter gun laws, violent crime rates are significantly higher.
Detroit, Michigan has topped Forbes Magazine’s list titled Most Dangerous American Cities for the fourth straight year, and although the crime rate has fallen 10% from last year (to 2,137 incidents per 100,000 residents), this number is still more than five times the national average. (1)
According to a June 2010 article, Chicago is three times as deadly as NYC and twice as violent as LA. Violent crime statistics at that time indicated that murders were occurring at the rate of slightly more than 16 per 100,000 residents, while the aggregate violent crime rate stood at 1,125 incidents per 100,000 people. These rates put Chicago as 27th and 30th in the nation, respectively. However, in comparison to the 10 largest cities (each with a population of a million or more), Chicago ranked second only to Philadelphia (2). While Chicago’s crime rate has fallen around 10 percent since last year, there were still 289 murders committed during the summer of 2012, according to an article by William Bratton in the Wall Street Journal. Murders, he states further, were up 31% from last year, and shootings have increased by 6 percent (3).
New York City’s crime rate may well be on the rise again, according to Graham Rayman of the Village Voice, despite the fact that it has decreased every year for nearly two decades. Even though the homicide rate is down 16 percent from last year’s statistics, the citywide crime rate (“based on seven felony categories: murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny, and auto theft…”) is up nearly 4 percent thus far this year. Despite this fact, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has begun vigorously campaigning for stricter gun laws. Most telling is the fact that crime is up in 47 of the city’s 76 police precincts, and in seventeen of those precincts, the increase can be measured in double-digit percentage points (4). As of July 2012, New York’s crime rate is 2,257 crimes per 100,000 residents.
I’d like to pause for a moment and put these numbers into perspective. Recall if you will that these numbers (2,137 [Detroit]; 1,125 [Chicago]; 2,257 [New York]) are all per one hundred thousand. New York City’s population is 8.2 million. Chicago’s is roughly 2.7 million. Detroit stands at just under a million ( roughly 713,000). I can see the gears turning, but let’s remember that there are one hundred hundred thousands in one million. So, taking Detroit, we would multiply 2,137 by 7.13 for a rough estimate of total violent crimes for 2012. Crunching those numbers, our answer is approximately 15,000 (15,236 rounded down to nearest thousand). From this simple problem, we can see that New York City’s number will be appallingly high; and, experience confirms premonition: New York’s crime total is an astounding 1.8 million!
Author John Fund writes on National Review Online:
Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive. “Guns are already banned in schools. That is why the shootings happen in schools. A school is a ‘helpless-victim zone,’” says Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff.
“Preventing any adult at a school from having access to a firearm eliminates any chance the killer can be stopped in time to prevent a rampage,” Jim Kouri, the public-information officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me earlier this year at the time of the Aurora, Colo., Batman-movie shooting. Indeed, there have been many instances — from the high-school shooting by Luke Woodham in Mississippi, to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. — where a killer has been stopped after someone got a gun from a parked car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter. (5)
These are among the “…things you won’t hear about from the saturation coverage of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre…” Fund states.
Among the other things you won’t hear?
Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.
According to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the “high point” (top incidence) for mass killings was in 1929.
Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.
Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.
The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning. (5)
Those who advocate stricter gun laws will rage and scream at these facts, and I fully expect to catch a great deal of flak over my stand on this issue. However, as I have stated many times, I am not afraid to stand and be counted on an issue. Therefore, I stand and declare what I believe on this issue.
I firmly believe that the way to stop these shootings from ever occurring again is to repeal all “gun-free zone” laws and allow adults in school zones to legally carry concealed weapons (guns). While it is true that guns are used to commit crimes, they are also used to prevent and stop crimes. In fact, 60% of the time, a gun is what stops a criminal from continuing in his course of action.
Liberals rage and howl and scream, “But there is nowhere on Earth that proves that giving teachers guns prevents school violence!” “There is nowhere on Earth that proves that arming the populace results in lower crime rates!” “There is nowhere in the world that proves that profiling reduces terrorist attack rates!” (I do not feel that this last statement is out of place, because such shootings are terrorist attacks!)
The answer to all those vehemently spewed statements? There is such a place: Israel.
Israeli teachers are armed. We don’t hear about twenty-six people being slaughtered in schools in Israel.
It seems that every week or so there is another news story about an Israeli holding a potential criminal until police arrive, using–of all things–a gun.
Profiling is something the Israeli security forces practice regularly and unabashedly. I shudder to think what the incidence of terrorist attacks would be if these men and women took the lackadaisical approach that American security forces use.
A suggestion I have heard that I thoroughly agree with is as follows: not only should teachers be allowed to carry weapons, they should be trained in counter-terrorism tactics, much the same as the SWAT teams are. The reasoning behind this? There comes a point in a crisis situation when you can no longer hope for a negotiated settlement. Suppose I were a teacher in an elementary school (since that is the situation du jour, as it were), and a madman with a gun comes into the school. For me, the moment he takes his first shot, there can be no negotiation. As an adult responsible for the lives of hundreds of other people’s children, I must neutralize the threat using any and all means necessary. This may mean–time permitting–gaining the element of surprise and wresting the gun from the attacker. In the case of a heavily armed assailant, as in Newtown, the gloves will come off…it’s either him or the kids. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, but it must be made…now!
Gun control as a crime-fighting tool is as effective as taking shelter under a Kleenex in a hailstorm. Statistics from the world over prove that gun-free zones are not crime-free zones. Cities with the strictest gun laws have some of the highest incidences of crime in the country. And, most importantly, gun control is based on a faulty premise:
Gun control advocates seem to believe that criminals follow laws.