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RE: School Shooting in California....

From: Randy N. Herrst

Hi, Everyone!

I would like to suggest a few issues that we can use to address the school shooting in San Diego, CA. today.

1. The other side has bragged that California has "the toughest gun laws in the nation", yet it is obvious that they have NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER and cannot prevent any crimes, even in a specially "protected" zone such as a school! Why? Because criminals are not deterred or prevented from obtaining firearms (mostly illegally) or prevented from committing even the most serious crimes. The San Diego murderer is apparently underage, so he could not have obtained his firearms legally. There is also a child-access-prevention law in California, which also did not work (although that law did cause 2 deaths and a serious wounding in the "Merced Pitchfork Murders"). In California, it is also illegal to bring firearms onto campus, and that didn't work either. Incidentally, in California I think it is also illegal to shoot people and murder them. Not to mention another dozen or so felony violations. I wonder why those laws didn't work, but new gun control laws will?

2. What would have worked in the short term? The "Israeli Solution" of arming some of the teachers and staff members. This has cut school murders to zero as soon as the policy was enacted and it has maintained that success over a two decade period. Go to for an explanation. Note that the criminal in San Diego told several people, including adults, that he was going to commit these crimes.

3. What else might work? One of the main reasons why these criminals do these things is for notoriety. For this, we can ask why the media insists upon glorifying and promoting the criminals. Let us suggest that the media, IF IT WANTED TO ACT RESPONSIBLY, would glorify the victims and minimize the celebrity treatment of the criminals--even including a refusal to mention the name of the criminal and refusal to publish their photos and refusal to publish the ego-driven ramblings of these criminals . These criminals aren't doing these things so that no one will notice them. Of course, I am just fantasizing here, since I am fully aware that almost no one in the media ever acts responsibly or in the public interest. Still, it would be interesting to see whether the media might be willing to try it as an experiment.

4. Are there any long term solutions? Yes, but this will be difficult to accept and even more difficult to implement. The main reason, IMHO, that school mass murders by students were almost unknown prior to the 1990's (is it only coincidence that school shootings blossomed during the Clinton years?) is the fact that society as a whole had some concept of morality and taught those precepts to the children. Morality was taught, not just in the home, but in the schools, churches, neighborhoods, the courts, the news media, and even the entertainment media (remember when movies and TV shows had "a moral to the story" and the good guys won while the bad guys were punished?) Furthermore, the media did not lionize heinous criminals or make mass murder look like fun (did you know that half a dozen mass murderers have cited "Natural Born Killers" or "The Basketball Diaries" or "Taxi Driver" as their FAVORITE movies?) Up until the mid-1970's, it was not uncommon for even urban high schools to have shooting teams, with members bringing firearms and ammunition onto campus, sometimes via public transportation and school buses. In rural areas then, and in some small town and rural places even today, children brought their hunting firearms to school and either left them in their cars or gave them to the teachers for safekeeping during school hours. Morality was what kept us safe.

5. There is a consistent pattern of violence where it is hard for law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms, whereas there is less violent crime where firearms ownership is widespread and easy. My studies have shown that violent crime is lower in the small cities and rural areas of each state compared to the metropolitan areas (as much as 500% higher) of 42 of the 50 states; while it is comparable in 7 states and in only one state, Kentucky, is the pattern significantly reversed (~35% higher violent crime in small cities and rural areas). The pattern of firearms ownership and crime is an inverse relationship, which should not be possible if the other side were right when it claims that "easy availability causes crime". Why hasn't the media ever noticed that there is less crime where it is easier for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones? Why hasn't the media ever pointed out that crime is highest in the major metro areas where legal firearms ownership is low? Isn't it interesting that Seattle, Washington (metro pop. 2.2 million), where almost any law-abiding citizen can get a Self-Defense-Permit/Concealed Carry Permit, has a murder rate that is lower than the national average? Same for Salt Lake City.

6. The one thing that has become obvious over the last few decades, both here and in other countries, is that although gun control sometimes does no harm (big deal!), the more likely outcome is that GUN CONTROL INCREASES VIOLENT CRIME, by shifting the balance of power to favor criminals, while it disarms innocent victims. The only result that almost never happens is the reduction of violent crime when a gun control law is passed (see U.S. government, National Institute of Justice study, "Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America", still available in a commercial book, "Under The Gun", by Profs. James D. Wright, Peter H. Rossi, and Kathleen M. Daly, Aldine de Gruyter Press). A few examples of this effect are the rising crime rates after the passage of gun control/prohibition laws in Britain 1921, New York 1911, California 1952, 1966, 1973, 1989, Jamaica 1975, Washington D.C. 1976, Britain 1996, and Australia 1997. In contrast to that effect, crime rates have gone down where firearms ownership and public concealed carry have become more widespread and attainable by ordinary citizens (see "More Guns, Less Crime" by Prof. John Lott).

7. A very important additional point: Prof. John Lott has done a study on multiple victim public shootings and found that such incidents decline by 60% after a state passes "shall issue" CCW/Self-defense-permit laws and that fatalities decline by 80%. His rationale for this effect is quite persuasive: in addition to the usual fear of personal harm, the criminal is deterred from even trying the mass murder because they have less confidence that they will be able to complete the vengeful or publicity-seeking act. The criminal doesn't worry about dying (since they might intend to die anyway), they worry about failing in their angry act against "society". Sick, but consistent with what we know about the motivations of such barbarians.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me.

Randall N. Herrst, J.D.
The Center For The Study Of Crime
Web site:

Phone: (310) 715-2812

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