Alternative Solutions to Mass Shootings

Since 9/11/2001, more than 400,000 Americans have been killed by guns. That is four times the number of Americans killed in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the 1st Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War all combined. Terrorists killed less than 1% of the Americans killed by guns since 9/11/2001 and most of those were on 9/11.

Among the developed nations, the United States has the highest death rate per capita from guns. A person is five times more likely to be killed with a gun in the U.S. than in Canada, nine times more likely than in Germany, and 42 times more likely than in Great Britain. (Per capita, the U.S. does not have 42 times as many mentally ill people.)   Within the U.S., the states with the most open gun laws are the states with the highest death rates from guns.

Americans have four broad alternatives in addressing gun issue:

  1. Arm teachers and school officials.
  2. Adopt Swiss-type gun laws.
  3. Repeal the 2nd Amendment.
  4. Do nothing and allow mass shootings with assault weapons to continue.

Solving the school shooting problem by arming teachers and school officials is a severely flawed concept for at least three reasons. First, while a teacher is searching for her or his gun, a shooter with a semi-automatic weapon can fire one round per second at the teacher or 12 rounds per second with a fully automatic weapon. Second, studies show that police accurately hit targets 88% of the time when shooting at a target that is not shooting back, but only 18% of the time when shooting at a target that is shooting back. Third, when the swat team arrives, they may shoot persons with a gun because they are unable to distinguish between a teacher and a criminal.

A better solution is to examine the gun policies of countries similar to the U.S. Switzerland has the most liberal gun laws in Europe and the second highest percentage of gun owners, next to the U.S. Per capita, the Swiss also have the most deaths from guns in Europe, but their death rate from guns is 70% less than the U.S. Switzerland has had no mass shootings in the last 15 years.

Swiss gun laws have three characteristics that differ from the United States: (1) 100% background checks; (2) gun registration; and (3) no assault weapons. Polls show that the vast majority of Americans support these terms. This would reduce American deaths from guns while still allowing high gun ownership.  .   .   Lifting the Federal ban on funding gun research and funding for antiquated computer systems at ATF would also be positive.

The NRA opposes these restrictions. The NRA provided more than $54 million supporting Congressional candidates in the 2016 elections. They also ran television ads and mailed fliers to voters. Economics are an important issue for the NRA. If gun laws were passed that were supported by a vast majority of Americans, the NRA would lose its issues and significant revenue.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to own guns. The U.S. is the only developed country with this constitutional protection. The Second Amendment also makes it difficult to prohibit gun ownership by people who are mentally ill. Conservative columnist, Bret Stephens, recommended repealing the 2nd Amendment. This is clearly the least like alternative.

According to The Economist magazine, “America’s constitution does not prevent tighter gun control. Lack of political will does.” Based on American history, the most likely outcome is that the President and Congress will do little or nothing and more school children will die.