East End Beacon

Editorial: It’s Not Rocket Science

We’re disgusted, and that doesn’t happen often. But this debate over the best ways to protect our children from mass shootings in schools can’t pit solutions against one another. There are many ways to make schools safer.

We went into writing this editorial unsure how effective a national assault rifle ban would be at curbing gun violence. After all, there are plenty of loud voices out there telling us that criminals will find a way to get a gun, even if it is banned, or that they will find a way to kill massive numbers of people, even if they can’t find a semi-automatic weapon.

But the truth, we found, is that we already have ample evidence that mass shootings have gotten far more deadly in the 14 years since a federal assault weapon ban was lifted in 2004. The statistics in the graph above are among the most compelling we’ve witnessed.

We compiled this graph from data collected by Mother Jones magazine on so-called “spree shootings,” defined by the FBI through 2012 as “a single attack in a public place in which four or more victims were killed.” In years subsequent to 2012, the FBI changed their criteria to three or more victims, and this chart reflects that change.

These statistics couldn’t be more clear. From 1994 to 2004, when the assault weapon ban was in place, an average of 9.6 people were killed in mass shootings each year. In the period from 2005 to today (including 2018, which is only just beginning), we’ve averaged 38.4 mass shooting deaths in this country each year — a fourfold increase.

Should we beef up background checks and make it harder for mentally ill people to get their hands on weapons? Absolutely. Should we arm teachers? That idea seems on the face of it to be as absurd as a recent comic we saw here in which lifeguards were being equipped with sharks to stop shark attacks.

Since the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Fla., a  record high 67 percent of Americans said they supported reinstating a nationwide assault weapon ban (Feb. 20, Quinnipiac University Poll).

We are lucky that New York has an assault weapon ban in place, but our representatives in Washington appear to not want to provide that safety for the rest of this nation. We’ve had enough. We’re writing this on the last day of February, and we’ve already lost 21 Americans to this random violence this year, more than half of our ‘new normal’ quota for the year. This has to stop. Now.

Comments ( 4 )

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  1. Frank Dalene March 6, 2018 Reply

    You want to quote Mother Jones as your authority? Shame on you, do your own research. You are the reporter. If you want to see my research, I’ll gladly show it to you. Worldwide there is no correlation between the rate of gun ownership and the murder rate. This is based directly on UN data, not someone’s tortuous use of statistics. If you don’t know, it appears you don’t, one can manipulate statistics to support any position.

    • Beth Young March 7, 2018 Reply

      Hi, Frank, we work around the clock here on a shoestring budget covering the East End, and we’re happy to highlight the work of other journalists we respect. We’re no fans of “damn lies and statistics” and we wouldn’t be sharing these statistics if they weren’t both compelling and exhaustively sourced over the course of decades. These statistics have nothing to do with “the correlation between the rate of gun ownership and the murder rate.” They are specifically focused on mass shootings and the assault weapon ban.

  2. grifhunter March 11, 2018 Reply

    This is a misleading and devious misuse of a statistic.
    Semiautomatic firearms have been in use in civilian hands since 1910, long before even the military ever adopted them. Where’s the bar graph on mass shootings going back to 1910?

    AR15’s have been sold and lawfully enjoyed by civilian shooters for hunting, target shooting and self defense since the early 1960’s. Where’s the record of these guns having been used in mass shootings before the ban? Same with standard capacity magazines. Where’s your statistics going back to the 1960’s.

    Lets face it, there is something about sick our SOCIETY of the last 30 years that has brought on these shootings, and trying to ban a single means of causing such harm is merely symbolic and diversionary to keep from examining what we have done to our youth with single parenting, throw away kids, non-stop video violence, and a culture of outrage/victim-hood that compels the narrative that payback or “reparations” are an entitlement after every wrong.

    Your op ed is driven by a false narrative that is just fear mongering. School shooting or “mass” shootings are still an extreme aberration compared to other preventable ways of dying. Over 300,000 people die of medical errors annually. 3500 die from being killed by an illegal alien driving drunk. Yet there are no marches, or calls to action on these social ills. Face it: its just about hatred and bigotry against what you despise, rather than any realistic threat to the population.

    • Beth Young March 11, 2018 Reply

      Hi, Grif,
      As parents of high school students, we are opposed to the slaughter of high school students, and we are in favor of sensible restrictions that would help keep our kids safe. You’re right, there is risk inherent in walking out the door and living every moment of the day, but that is no reason to not work every day to make our world a safer place. People work hard every day to make medical treatment safer. Our brave police officers don’t look the other way when they see someone driving drunk. They try to put a stop to it, at risk of great personal danger. Weapons of war have no place in civilian society. That is our position. The only thing we hate here is the thought of kids dying for no reason.

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