Very good article.
The latest Small Arms Survey estimates that there are 393 million privately owned guns in the United States. Most American estimates put the number at 300 million to 310 million. We do know that there are more than 16.3 million active concealed carry licenses in the U.S. but the number who do is likely higher because 12 states permit at least state residents to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
The Giffords Law Center percentage is misleading. Yes, criminals do get guns from gun shows but studies have consistently shown that the percentage of gun show firearms is only between 2% and 4%. The largest percentage of crime guns are obtained by theft. The next-largest percentage is sales and loans from friends. This is true even in areas that regulate face-to-face private sales. A recent study of expanded background checks in Colorado and Washington state showed them to be ineffective, since there is no way for law enforcement to know if or when a transaction has taken place. Citizens routinely ignore the law, since the likelihood of detection is very small, and some law enforcement officials don’t even bother trying to enforce the laws.
Looking at the mass shootings that have occurred since background checks became mandatory that in cases where the source of the firearms was reported, 76% of mass shooters had successfully passed one or more of them.
The problem with restricted entrances and metal detectors is that while everybody remembers Sandy Hook, nobody seems to remember how Adam Lanza got in the school, which did lock entry doors after the school day began. In other school firearm instances, students have passed guns through windows and taken other steps to prevent being spotted entering the school with a gun.
Mental health is an issue but numerous reported school shootings have been triggered by things like child custody disputes, jealousy, gangs and fights that may have begun elsewhere.
People want to pass this law or that but they overlook a law that was first passed in 1990 and then modified in 1994. That was the law that declared that any public school receiving federal funds had to establish a gun-free zone.
States and merchants have raised the age to purchase a rifle or shotgun to 21. Yet only two people under the age of 21 have ever used a firearm that they purchased themselves in a mass shooting. The first was Dean Mellburg, a 20-year-old airman who had been separated from the USAF. He shot up Fairchild AFB in 1994 with an AK-47 clone. The other was Nikolas Cruz in Parkland 24 years later.
During the 2017–2018 school year, a total of 35 students, teachers and staff members were killed in school shootings. Parkland and Santa Fe accounted for 27 of those, leaving eight for the rest of the 97,200 K-12 public schools in the U.S. All of those deaths are tragic, but there are about 50.7 million students enrolled in K-12 public schools in the most recent year, so the percentage of students killed in school shootings is still vanishingly small-about 0.000069%. Children in the 5 to 18 age group are 12 times more likely to drown.
In the larger world of mass shootings, things are even more challenging. Motivations run the gamut from anger over job losses, marital problems, racism and real mental health issues. Venues are impossible to secure. How do you prevent a guy that passed more than a dozen background checks, spent perhaps two years planning his act and scouting locations and flew so far under the radar that even his live-in girlfriend didn’t know what he was planning from shooting into a crowd at an open-air music event?
But everyone is so busy pushing one agenda or another, usually involving reruns of legislation that has been shown to be ineffective or a tired mantra of “supermax” high schools and good guys with guns.
It’s worth remembering that the deadliest school massacre and the deadliest mass murder in U.S. history didn’t involve guns at all.