We’re asking all the wrong questions about the shooting last week at a Michigan high school that killed four students and injured seven, some critically:
Here’s the right question: Why can just about any American adolescent get his hands on a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol? Furthermore, why do we no longer even think this question is worth asking?
Why did he do it? It’s natural to wonder, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s not like understanding the warped psychology of one school shooter will help us stop the next one. There are 60 million K-12 students in this country; no one should be surprised that a few are capable of horrific actions.
The Monroe County Community School Corp. board in Bloomington, Indiana, deserves a ton of credit for its brave and correct decision to reject an offer of free metal detectors from the state.
In the midst of a panic over school shootings, including the shooting of a teacher and student last spring at a Noblesville middle school, nearly every school district in Indiana jumped at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s offer of free metal detectors. The MCCSC board said no, and for good reasons.
“I think that just the fact that we have these, whether or not we ever use them, diminishes the good feelings our parents and our kids have in our schools,” board member Jeannine Butler said.
That’s exactly right. Parents and students want schools to be safe, but they also want them to be warm, welcoming places, not “hardened” targets that resemble prisons or detention centers. What message does it send if a school acts as if everyone who enters the door is a potential killer?
It was Indiana’s turn. An incident last week at Noblesville West Middle School brought the plague of school shootings close to home. We’ve had school shootings here before, of course; but following closely on deadly incidents in Florida and Texas, the Noblesville shooting grabbed national attention.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The odds of a shooting in your child’s school are extremely low. School shootings are so horrifying and get so much media coverage that it seems they’re happening everywhere, all the time. But there are 50 million students attending over 100,000 schools in the United States. Very few of them will experience a shooting at their school.
As Harvard professor David Ropeik writes in the Washington Post, the odds of a child being shot to death at school on a given day are roughly 1 in 614 million, considerably less than the odds of dying from a serious disease or being killed on the way to or from school or from a sports injury.
I’m hearing stories of parents who are thinking about homeschooling their children rather than risk sending them to school. Of course, parents have every right to worry and make decisions about their children’s safety. But for most children, schools are among the safest places they can be.
It’s the guns. The United States has more mass shootings, including school shootings, than other countries for one reason: We have a lot more guns and put few restrictions on them. As Max Fisher and Josh Keller report in the New York Times, Americans are 4.4 percent of the world’s population but own 42 percent of the guns. Nearly one-third of gunmen in mass shootings are Americans. Continue reading