Noting that assault weapons have been banned before, at least partially (the 1994 bill didn't encompass pre-existing weapons) so that doesn't necessarily require amendment to the Constitution. That ban also encompassed some semi-automatic weapons.
(For the benefit of gun enthusiasts who may be grinding their teeth right now, I will acknowledge that "assault weapon" is a vague and unhelpful term, and that the 1994 bill had some very weird inclusions.)
BTW, I realised there's one thing missing from NightL's list, which I will also advocate: kill the Dickey Amendment
(re. "Surrounding school with razor-wire fences and armed guards. Kindergarteners being taught to yell and throw books at an attacker - not to stop him, not to save their own lives, but to draw out their deaths so their schoolmates have a few more seconds to get away. ")
From this post
and this one
, you certainly seemed to be advocating armed guards and perhaps even arming teachers, but perhaps I misunderstood?
Fencing has been widely advocated as part of a defensive strategy; if you google through recent discussion on school safety measures or see e.g. here
, you'll find it. It's pretty much inevitable if you want to defend something the size of a school campus without hiring dozens
of guards (unlikely to be affordable); you need to restrict access to a few choke points that can be covered by a small number of guards, and that means serious fences or walls or something similar.
And you'd better hope the guards are good, because if they don't stop that shooter in a hurry... well, the same measures that were meant to stop the shooter from getting in will also stop students from getting out
I'll agree that Everytown is partisan. Breitbart is very, very partisan. Unfortunately, thanks largely to that Dickey Amendment, it's very hard to find non-partisan sources on this issue. But in this case we can make some headway by looking at the partisan sources.
The Everytown report I linked to was published in 2017, drawing on data about shootings up to December 2016. The Breitbart article was published in 2014, so obviously it's not a direct response to that report, but let's look at it anyway.
The Breitbart piece is drawn pretty much entirely from this 2014 CPRC report
. The first author on that report is John Lott, and as I mentioned before, Lott only considers public
mass shootings. The introduction makes this clear: "In this report, the CPRC looks at mass public shootings
since the beginning of 2009."
They do go on to criticise a 2014 report from Everytown (not the same one I linked to):
"The CPRC also re-evaluates Everytown for Gun Safety's recent findings on mass shootings... Everytown greatly exaggerated their number by including gang killings and shootings as part of some other crime as well as residential killings involving families."
In other words - both sides are in agreement
that the Everytown stats include residential mass shootings, and CPRC's do not. To give CPRC their due, they are very clear that their stats refer only to public
mass shootings (i.e. less than half of all mass shooting incidents).
Breitbart repeats that language in the article, but their headline drops out that important qualifier "public". People who only read the headlines then cite that as "92% of mass shootings in gun-free zones", which is simply false, and not supported by either report.
The CPRC report states that "Everytown's discussion contained numerous other errors. Everytown’s claims were flawed as to the extent of mental illness, the age of the killers, and even where the attacks occurred. Those errors occurred because they did not do a complete news search on each case."
As noted above, this refers to an earlier report from Everytown, not the 2017 report that I linked.
The one I did link includes an appendix
which gives the details of all the shootings they looked at in order to get their numbers. So you don't have to take it on trust; if you don't believe Everytown has reported them accurately, you can go verify those reports for yourself.
Since home shootings are the central point of contention here, I randomly picked three of the "home shooting" incidents in their appendix.
#1: Sinking Springs, PA, 08/06/2016. Everytown says: "Mark Short, 40, fatally shot his wife and their three children ... before fatally shooting himself."
So, did that happen?
Yep. He shot the family dog, too.
#2: Liberty, SC, 10/14/2011. Everytown says: "Susan Diane Hendricks, 48, fatally shot her ex-husband, their two sons, and her stepmother."
#3: Greenwood, NM, 9/10/2015. Everytown says: "Brian Short, 45, fatally shot his wife and their three children ... before fatally shooting himself. The shooting took place in the family’s home."
In all three of those cases, the Everytown appendix seems to be an accurate summary of the facts as reported. I didn't check further - reading up on this kind of shit is profoundly depressing - and I'm sure that if you looked long enough and hard enough, you could find an error in the details here and there. But three for three is enough for me to be pretty confident that their reports are mostly correct.
I haven't hunted down the earlier report that CPRC was criticising, so for all I know it's quite possible that it did
have all the failings that CPRC attributes to it. But if so, it's also quite possible that Everytown saw that criticism and improved their quality-checking for the 2017 report.
Bottom line: a very large percentage of mass shootings take place in private homes, the CPRC stats explicitly exclude
those events, and therefore they're not going to give accurate information about "mass shootings" in general.
Yes, if a zone has designated people on duty carrying guns there, it's not "gun free". That's what those words mean.
Otherwise, are we going to say that a school with armed guards is still "gun free" because the students aren't allowed to carry?
Last weekend I went to a concert with about 3000 other people. To the best of my knowledge, none of the audience were armed, and neither were the security guards. I expect there would've been a handful of police there, armed with handguns, but I didn't see them.
It wasn't scary at all. The only thought I had for safety was checking that there wasn't any risk of a crowd crush (there wasn't) and then I spent the rest of the evening listening to music and chatting to my partner.
I can understand that if you're used to a violent society, it would feel instinctively scary to know that somebody could attack and you don't have the means to fight back. Even in my neck of the woods, it's not completely risk-free; last year some dickhead killed six people with a car before the police stopped him. But the fact that it's so hard for those dickheads to get guns - especially rapid-fire high-capacity guns - greatly outweighs the tiny difference that carrying a gun might make to my own safety.
As an example, "gentlemen's club" wasn't always a euphemism for "strip joint". Once upon a time it was a place where men could go and spend time exclusively in the company of other men of similar social status and political persuasion. They've declined a bit lately, and some now admit women, but there are still quite a few men-only clubs around. A club may not be officially
white-only, but it's easy for them to end up that way; people have plenty of ways to discourage others from showing up.
That's a safe space. It's not called that, it's not advertised as that, it doesn't officially
impose the same sort of rules you'd find in a university campus safe space, but in practice it serves the same sort of purpose: it's a place where people can go to relax or to focus on something, without the unpleasantness of having to encounter a contrary opinion.
One thing that these "sheltered snowflakes can't deal with the world, so they demand safe spaces" discussions pretty much always miss is that nobody
is expecting to live in that sheltered environment 24/7. Safe spaces are about giving people space where they can breathe easy just for a few hours without having to argue with somebody who believes they shouldn't exist/etc. etc.
"The criminal set" is not a monolith.
Australia has organised crime. I walk past a mob-owned restaurant almost every day. I would expect that our local mafias still have access to semi-automatic weapons if they want them; they have the connections and the resources to smuggle them in, or occasionally to steal them from police/military.
But mafias are businesses, and the people who run them want to stay in business. They may be vicious sons-of-bitches, and sometimes they go after one another
, but they're smart enough to understand that mass murder - or any murder of innocent parties - is very bad for business.
I have no doubt that there are other people who've held on to their semi-autos. But a ban gives them a very strong incentive to stash them out of sight, which reduces the temptation to pull them out in the middle of a domestic argument, and reduces the risk that somebody else will get hold of them. That's very nearly as good as taking them out of circulation altogether.
Note also that mass shooters almost always turn out to have a track record of domestic violence, which means at least one family member who has a strong incentive to report any illegal firearms.
They can, and occasionally they do. But there are reasons why guns are the mass killer's weapon of choice.
If a killer just wants to rack up a body count and make the headlines, and doesn't care who they kill, yeah, they can do what the guy in Nice did and drive a vehicle into a crowd during a public event.
But most mass murderers want to target some more specific group: workmates, family members, classmates, and so on. Vehicle attacks aren't so effective for that kind of attack.
There's also the psychological side. Shooting somebody is a different act to bombing them or stabbing them or driving a truck into them; it lets the attacker maintain a certain distance while still seeing the consequences first-hand. A terrorist who can't get a gun will look for some other weapon that does the job; it's not so clear that other would-be killers will simply substitute weapons.
Your numbers are roughly correct, but note that this wasn't a lone attacker like mass shootings are, or even a two-person attack like Columbine or San Bernardino. It was an organised attack by a group of eight
terrorists. Between them they killed 31 civilians, i.e. on average ~ four per attacker. Eight attackers with a gun could've killed a lot more.