As Mr. Chase mentioned, the Dickey Amendment did not prohibit the CDC from conducting gun research. It did prohibit the use of federal funds for advocacy research. That means research favoring either side.
While Congress did cut the CDC budget for funding gun research, it also cut CDC funding in other areas, including investigations into preparations for mass epidemics.
In 2013, President Obama direct the CDC to do a study on gun research into the efficacy of gun control laws on violence. The CDC was unable to find a clear indication that gun laws affected violence one way or the other. The Rand Corporation reached roughly the same conclusion a few years later.
The Dickey Amendment does not prevent researchers from seeking other support. Indeed, numerous studies of gun control laws, gun ownership, and crime have been conducted since 1999.
In fact, researchers have a marvelous microcosm to study: California. Most, if not all, of the “commonsense” gun laws are in effect in California, some of them since 1999. California does have a comparatively low rate of actual gun violence, i.e., violence inflicted on one person by another. California’s gun murder rate has gone down. However, the gun murder rate in Arizona, which eliminated the requirement for permits to carry a concealed handgun in 2010, has declined at a greater rate. According to the FBI, the homicides in the majority of the “Constitutional Carry” states, which have statutes similar to the Arizona law, are much lower than the rate in California.
When it comes to the largest percentage of gun deaths, suicides, both California and Connecticut have passed red flag laws: Connecticut in 1999; California in 2015. Both states had lower-than-average firearm-related suicide rates before the laws were passed and both states have seen the rate decline even farther. However, the total number of suicides and the total rate of suicides has continued to increase. Connecticut’s suicide rate has increased more than the national rate. It appears that red flag laws are ineffective in reducing the incidence of suicide.
Based on data provided by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, a total of 41 students were killed by school shooters in 2018. This doesn’t include the killers who committed suicide. That’s out of an estimated 50.7 million students enrolled in 98,200 K-12 public schools in the U.S. The only incident in which a student was prevented from committing a school shooting was in late 2018, when a student’s mother noticed him carrying an odd bundle to school. She called the school, which went on lockdown and notified law enforcement. When the youth arrived at the school, he was confronted by local police and state troopers. After exchanging fire with the officers, the boy committed suicide.
The Parkland shooting has been touted as an excuse for more gun control laws. Yet the Florida state commission created to investigate the incident found no flaw in the Florida statutes in effect at the time. The commission was unanimous in blaming Nikolas Cruz for the actual deaths and injuries but was sharply critical of Broward County. Both the school district and sheriff’s office were called out for enabling Cruz to carry out his attack. Diversion policies prevented Cruz from being brought into the criminal justice system despite a long history of violent behavior. Without a criminal record, there was no information to deny the NICS inquiry made in accordance with federal law by Sunrise Tactical. In addition, the commission was extremely critical of the administration at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for its lax security, poor personnel policies and lack of training.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was recently removed from office in part because of his agency’s handling of the Parkland incident. The commissioners actually described the response of Deputy Scot Peterson as “abysmal.” It was the poor response of BCSO personnel, including preventing officers from another department to enter the school, that enabled Cruz to not only complete his spree, but escape from the school.
Exactly how gun control would have prevented that is a mystery.
Speaking of profiting from fear: We have created a climate of fear in public schools. We have glorified killers and used them to produce a boogeyman to frighten parents and students. Manufacturers rushed to produce things like ballistic backpacks that would be useless. The plates in these backpacks would not stop easily foreseeable threats, offered minimal body protection and were difficult for smaller children to deploy. Gun control advocacy groups and gun rights groups profited because interest and donations were enhanced.
We have raised a hue and cry over the idea of armed teachers with suggestions that, frankly, are insulting to teachers. This whole debate is silly. No research is needed. Texas has had armed teachers since 2007. The only mass shooting at a school in Texas since that time was an incident in a district with its own police department consisting of sworn law enforcement officers with full law enforcement powers. It should be noted that, unlike the Parkland shooting, officers arrived on the scene within minutes and engaged the shooter and took him into custody. A district police officer was critically wounded by a close-quarter hit from a 12-gauge shotgun, but other officers carried out their duty.
There has never been a mass shooting at a Texas school with armed teachers. There has never been an accident; never has been an incident where a student was able to get control of a teacher’s gun.
One of the knee-jerk reactions to the Parkland shooting was raising the age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from 18 to 21. Nikolas Cruz was the only person under the age of 21 to legally purchase an AR-style rifle and use it in a mass shooting since the Colt AR-15 Sporter went on the market in November 1963.
Raising the age seems like a bit of overreaction.
The is a legitimate question of what needs to be studied that hasn’t already been studied to death?
Another legitimate question is whether the proposed “commonsense” gun laws make any sense at all. By all of the available evidence, they don’t. Considering the number of mass shooters that passed background checks and the fact that states that have enacted universal background checks have not seen a beneficial change tells even a dabbler such as myself to conclude they are fairly worthless.
I would suggest a test for any proposed gun law: Would this law have prevented Adam Lanza from carrying out his attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School? Even the Assault Weapons Ban fails this test.
I remember an ad for the ACLU from back in the 1970s. It boasted that the group defended Americans’ Constitutional Rights and proceeded to list them. Curiously, the Second Amendment was omitted.
Good to know that even in the midst of great change, some things are constant.
Incidentally, ATF trace statistics are available on the agency’s website.