What we have not learned since Parkland, even a year later.

Graphic by Bill Cawthon

Robert Davis asked, “One year after Parkland, what have we learned?

After reading his article and considering the evidence from the real world, it appears we haven’t learned anything at all. Which isn’t surprising since nobody seems to want to focus on anything about the shooting at Marjory Stone Douglas High School unless it’s about gun control.

To begin with, we didn’t learn that gun laws, or the lack thereof, played no role in the Parkland shooting. None. They all worked exactly how they were supposed to and there weren’t any new laws that would have made a difference. Just like at Sandy Hook.

We paid no attention to the initial findings of the Florida state commission specifically created to investigate the incident so we didn’t learn from them, either. Hardly surprising, since the media devoted little time or space to the findings when they were released last month.

The commission unanimously blamed the killings on Nikolas Cruz. However, they also unanimously blamed the Broward County school district, the administration and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for giving Cruz, not only the ability to pass a background check; but to commit the shooting itself and to complete it without interference.

The commission also blamed the “abysmal” response of Deputy Scot Peterson, who commission members called a coward, and the ineptitude and lack of training of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in its response. The commission did actually use the term “abysmal” in its description of Deputy Peterson.

Word to the wise: Take everything David Hogg says with a large grain of salt.

Nowhere in their findings did the commission find any grounds to be critical of Smith & Wesson or Sunrise Tactical or any of other the other retailers from which Cruz had purchased additional guns. Nowhere in their findings was there any criticism of federal or Florida gun laws.

In addition to what we didn’t learn, we ignored the fact that Nikolas Cruz is the only person under the age of 21 to have ever used an AR-15 that was legally purchased with their own funds to commit a mass shooting. Not the only person last year, not the only person since the Assault Weapons Ban expired, but the only person in that age group since the first Colt AR-15 was offered to the civilian market in 1964.

Considering that the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were about 12.7 million young American adults in 2018, one is an awfully small percentage. If we hadn’t already done in in some states, it would be hard to believe that we would take away a right from so many people because one person abused it.

We obviously still haven’t learned that not one gun law has ever prevented a mass shooting. They continue to happen even in states that have enacted strong gun laws, including assault weapon restrictions, restrictions on magazine capacities, waiting periods, gun registration and universal background checks. In fact, over the past two years, more than 46% of them took place in states that either had universal background check laws or required a permit to purchase or own a firearm. This includes the widely reported shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, which doesn’t require these things, because the shooter was from and had legally acquired his handgun in Maryland, which does.

Nearly 54% of the firearms involved in the mass shootings had been legally acquired from a federally licensed dealer, meaning a background check had been performed. Another 14% were stolen. The source of the guns was not reported in about 25% of incidents.

We also haven’t learned that politicians and gun control advocates will use any tactics to promote their agenda. This includes lying through their teeth about the effectiveness of gun control laws and standing on the bodies of the dead, sanctimoniously shedding crocodile tears, while calling for measures that wouldn’t have spared even one of the victim’s lives.

We haven’t learned that we have been played for suckers for years by the media.

In a NPR-PBS Newshour Marist study conducted earlier this month, the last question was: “From what you have read or heard, do you think, compared to 25 years ago, the per capita gun murder rate in the U.S. is higher, lower, or about the same?”

82% of all those participating in the survey said the rate was higher (59%) or about the same (23%). Just 12% thought the rate was lower.

The latest year for which we have gun homicide data is 2017. A 25-year period that includes both beginning and ending years begins in 1993. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the firearm homicide rate has fallen more than 36%.

In 2014, the rate of gun murders in the U.S. hit its lowest point in at least 37 years. The 2014 rate was nearly 49% below the 1993 rate. Ironically, the rate in 2014 came only a couple of years following the largest gun-buying spree in modern American history. Even though gun shop shelves had been picked clean and ammunition was being rationed because the factories couldn’t produce it fast enough, the gun murder rate dropped in every single year from 2009 to 2014.

In terms of homicides committed by all methods, 2014 had the lowest rate since 1958.

Apparently 82% of Americans have been lied to by their sources of information. Of course, there is a motive: it’s hard to foment hysteria when the danger has been decreasing.

We haven’t learned to look behind the scary numbers instead of being gullible to the point that we should all own swampland in Florida or famous bridges in New York City.

When the Gun Violence Archives announced there had been 340 mass shootings in the U.S. during 2018, we were aghast and eagerly swallowed headlines about a mass shooting almost every day. What we didn’t do is ask where those mass shootings happened.

California and Illinois were tied for the highest number of mass shootings and California led the nation in the number of people killed in mass shootings. Even looking at the rates of mass shootings per 100,000 people, we find that Washington, D.C. had the highest rate in the nation and Massachusetts had the lowest in terms of both incidents and casualties (deaths and injuries).

Chart created by Bill Cawthon

In between Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts, though, it doesn’t appear that background checks make any difference. While Alabama was #2 in the rate of incidents and Louisiana was the runner-up in total casualties, Arizona was next to last in both rates. Only Massachusetts was lower.

Note that the states highlighted in red all require background checks for all sales of firearms or require a permit to possess or purchase firearms. Most have bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and other laws.

Compare those to the states highlighted in green: These are among the fourteen “constitutional carry” states. These states do not require background checks on private transfers; do not restrict weapons or magazine capacity; do not have waiting periods; allow the purchase of rifles and shotguns at age 18 and don’t even require a state-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun. Not only do none of them require registration of guns or gun owners, Arizona state law specifically prohibits the creation of a gun registry.

So apparently gun law don’t make a difference, even when someone pumps up the numbers by creating their own definition of a mass shooting.

It seems that the most important thing we haven’t learned is that we need to learn. Learn about the truth behind the hype. Learn to always look for the underlying facts and to avoid accepting things just because some politician, reporter or celebrity says it’s so.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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