Writing at The Cato Institute, Jonathan Blanks explains how the hysteria surrounding the debate over gun control in the United States is harming, rather than helping Americans. He writes:
About two-thirds of gun deaths every year in the United States are suicides, making up about half of all U.S. suicides. A relatively small number of people are killed in accidents, but the bulk of the remaining homicides stem from urban street-level shootings and domestic violence. The overwhelming majority of all these deaths — suicides, accidents and homicides — are perpetrated with handguns. Mass shootings, while they may grab headlines for days or weeks at a time, make up a small fraction of gun deaths every year. Even in those high-profile tragedies, however, handguns are far more common than semiautomatic rifles.
These statistics might encourage politicians to focus on smarter urban policies, suicide prevention and better ways to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers to further the downward trend of gun deaths. But instead, the politics of fear — particularly around the rare but high-profile mass shootings — drives much of the gun debate. A comprehensive ban on semiautomatic weapons — rifles and handguns — is far beyond what most gun-control advocates are proposing, in part because it is a political non-starter that would not pass constitutional muster in the United States. The ban New Zealand’s Ardern has proposed wouldn’t limit semiautomatic handguns, either.
Indeed, the fear-driven policymaking has spilled over into school safety. Many schools use armed school resource officers, often on-duty police officers assigned to the schools. These officers make student arrest more likely and sometimes result in violent takedowns of students. Lockdowns and active-shooter drills have led to officers firing blank rounds to simulate live fire, mock executions of teachers, and students tearfully writing out willswhile hunkered down. There’s little evidence police officers or active-shooter drills make schools any safer, but there is growing evidence that they traumatize the very children the schools are trying to protect.
Despite the horrific tragedies at schools in Newtown, Conn., and Parkland, Fla., schools are among the safest places for a child to be. Last year, The Post reported an estimate that the odds of a child being fatally shot while at school any given day since 1999 was 1 in 614,000,000. Statistically speaking, a child is in more danger riding in a car than attending school, but we don’t subject students to staged traffic collisions in a misguided effort to protect them.
To be fair to gun-control advocates, the catastrophe of mass shootings and our vulnerability to them can be awful to contemplate. Fear is a powerful motivator, but right now it is steering policy in unhelpful and even harmful directions. The United States can get better at reducing gun deaths and gun victimizations. Our violent crime rates have been trending downward for two decades. But we need policies that address the far more common underlying problems that lead people to harm themselves and others.
Read more here.
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