Gun control activists and a growing number of Republicans insist something must be done to address gun violence but one of the leading researchers on guns says the data prove the gun control proposals getting discussed will not stop future atrocities but ideas getting shouted down by Democrats and the media would make a difference.
More and more Republicans are urging action by Congress, from universal background checks to denying people on the No Fly List from purchasing guns. Some aren’t even sure what they want but insist something needs to get passed and President Trump needs to lead on the issue.
“You have an obligation to give us a package to consider, regarding school safety and guns. You did a good job talking in front of the country about the problem,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“Propose something, Mr. President, and I think Republicans have an obligation to work with Democrats to make it law if we can,” added Graham.
Crime Prevention Research Center President Dr. John Lott has studied gun and crime data for decades. He is not impressed by the generic demand for action.
“I’m very frustrated by this whole debate myself. What makes me even more frustrated is the fact that the types of solutions that are being offered have really nothing to do with stopping these types of mass public shootings,” said Lott.
Lott then took aim at ideas like expanded background checks and banning so-called assault weapons, explaining why he thinks they would’t work.
“The number one solution that Democrats go to all the time are the background checks on private transfers of guns. If that type of law had been in effect, it wouldn’t have stopped any mass public shooting this century or even years before that. And yet they keep pushing it,” said Lott.
He says the statistics on “assault weapons” are also unconvincing.
“To go and ban guns based on how they look really never made much sense to me and there’s a lot of academic research that shows that it had no impact on these types of crimes,” said Lott.
Many conservatives recoiled last week when President Trump seemed warm to ideas ranging from raising the minimum age for purchasing rifles to expanded background checks and possibly even portions of an “assault weapons” ban.
Lott says people need to remember how Trump approaches policy and adds he will not judge Trump until he sees concrete proposals.
“I don’t put too much weight on any one part of the conversation. I want to see what comes out in the end, but Trump is a very practical person. You can’t go and argue with him, I don’t believe, just saying this is a right.
“I don’t think that’s the way he thinks about things. He wants to know what will work, what will stop these types of things,” said Lott.
Lott is very pleased Trump seems to be on board with allowing teachers and staff voluntarily conceal carry on school property. He also applauds Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., for introducing legislation to repeal the federal gun-free zones.
He says the research shows those zones are magnets for deranged killers.
“I don’t know how somebody can get around it. You read the diaries, you read the other statements these killers leave, they’re very explicit on why they picked the targets that they do. Over 98 percent of the mass public shootings since 1950 have occurred in places where guns are banned,” said Lott.
Politicians in both parties recoil at the idea of teachers and school staff voluntarily carrying guns, with some preferring armed security instead. Lott says that’s not nearly as effective.
“Putting somebody in uniform is like putting someone there with a neon sign that says ‘Shoot me first,'” said Lott. “If it’s concealed (on staff or teachers), the attackers won’t even know who they have to worry about. It takes away the strategic advantage that these killers have.”
But is there any evidence that arming faculty and staff will work?
“It varies a lot across states but there are 25 states that allow staff and teachers to carry to varying degrees. There’s never been an attack at one of those schools,” said Lott.
Of course, mass shootings don’t only happen in schools, and Lott says concealed carry is also the best defense of those settings as well.
“We have 17 million Americans in this country who have a concealed carry permit. They’re at the malls. They’re at the restaurants, at the movie theaters, at the grocery stores. You have no clue whether somebody next to you has a concealed carry permit or not.
“If you take out California and New York, over eight percent of the adult population in the rest of the country has a concealed carry permit. It’s very likely when you’re just going around that there are people there who have a gun. You’d only know if something bad happened,” said Lott.