Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 2/23/18
Several busloads of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida went to the state capitol in Tallahassee and demanded that lawmakers take action to prevent another horror like the one that befell their school last week. Who can blame them? Seventeen of their classmates and teachers are dead. More than a dozen others are injured, some very grievously so.
The shooting happened despite the fact that many saw it coming and took steps to prevent it. Such steps were rendered meaningless by the bureaucratic bumbling of the FBI, which had received a very detailed and credible tip that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, posed a clear and present danger.
If I were a student at that school, I’d be mad as hell. So let them march on their state capitol and let them loudly and vociferously demand that something be done. They have every right to be angry and every right to vent and every right to yell at their elders in their state legislature.
Just understand that nothing that these legitimately aggrieved students are demanding will do anything whatsoever to prevent the next school shooting. Nor will the donations of upwards of $2 million to their cause by rich, virtue-signaling liberals like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey make the slightest difference.
Predictably, the cry has gone up to ban so-called “assault weapons” like the AR-15 rifle that Nikolas Cruz used. Doing so won’t change a thing. We don’t have to guess on this one. We know it. We had a law banning “assault weapons” on the books for ten years starting in 1994. When that law sunsetted in 2004, multiple studies all came to the conclusion that the law had had no discernible impact on crimes involving gun violence. Hysteria over rifles like the AR-15 and the fact that one was used in this most recent tragedy notwithstanding, the truth is that such weapons are statistically among the least likely to be used in a civilian mass murder.
Tightening up background checks on gun buyers may or may not be a good idea. But background checks are only as good as the bureaucracy that curates them and that fact alone raises real doubts as to any potential benefits. What isn’t in doubt is that such tightening will have the effect of making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy a gun.
The simple, unavoidable truth is this. A generation ago we did not have — indeed didn’t even imagine — mass murder at our schools. That condition prevailed even though there were far fewer gun ownership restrictions on the books than there are now.
This problem will not yield to legislation. Something other than the ability to purchase and own a gun has gone terribly wrong. The pathology runs deep, has been growing for at least half a century and was brought about by a host of societal failures.
There are no soundbite-length answers. Beware, therefore, of politicians and media talking heads that offer them.