L. Neil Smith's

Number 38, June 19, 1998

Stop Schoolyard Shootings: Hand Out More Guns

By Vin Suprynowicz

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

          On May 21, all indications are that pencil-necked 15-year-old misfit Kipland Kinkel, younger child (and the only one still living at home) of well-to-do government schoolteacher parents, took a .22 caliber rifle, shot his mother and father to death in their home, and then headed down to the school cafeteria to wound 22 of his schoolmates, while killing two more.
          What were all the kids in the mill town of Springfield, Oregon doing in the school cafeteria so early that morning? Being taught to expect a government dole and subsidy even for breakfast, it now appears.
          At any rate, it was another shooting in the "gun-free zones" which the "send-a-message" liberals have made of our mandatory youth propaganda camps -- oops, "public schools." So, needless to say, the Usual Suspects were shortly heard from.
          Within days Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association -- America's largest gun control outfit -- showed up on Katie Couric's smugly hoplophobic NBC Today show, "debating" all-guns-to-the-state Congressman Charles Schumer on a typically heads-they-win-tales-we- lose question: whether it is federal or only local authorities who should "mandate" gun locks.
          Needless to say, Mr. LaPierre never asked why they were debating locks for handguns, when all the recent schoolyard shootings were done with long guns. For that matter, the firearms used in these crimes were not full-auto machine weapons (no innocent American civilians have been killed by such legally-owned weapons in years, except by government agents), nor the "murderous" assault weapons which Messrs. Schumer and Clinton are busily banning, with their "deadly" pistol grips, flash hiders, and bayonet lugs. (That kind of weapon, as it turns out, kills an average of three Americans per year ... fewer than are killed by bowling balls.)
          Since few to none of the recent school killings have been accomplished with handguns (Master Kinkel, like his recent predecessors in Arkansas, carried a handgun for backup, but preferred to do most of his shooting with his more accurate rifle -- precisely the type of "sporting weapon" which the gun-grabbers tell us is safer to have around), this opportunistic political carrion-feeding on the young dead to promote bad laws already in the hopper makes about as much sense as fighting highway fatalities by requiring more life preservers on pleasure boats.
          Nor did Mr. LaPierre ever call the gun-banner's biggest bluff -- never asking Schumer, "So you're saying gun locks are enough? If you get this law passed you'll never propose another gun control law? This isn't just one more incremental step toward total prohibition?"
          After all, once the victim disarmament gang effectively outlawed machineguns for most Americans, they didn't hesitate to ridicule the real reason we own guns -- "a safeguard against tyranny," in the words of Hubert Humphrey -- by simpering "Oh, you and your friends think you can stop the 82nd Airborne with your deer rifles?"
          Similarly, once every handgun in the country is required to be double-padlocked inside a time-locked safe, do we think they'll hesitate to argue, "Since you can no longer get the gun out on short notice, it's no good to defend you against a rapist, so how can you argue you still need it?"

Advice From the Germans

          Highest soprano among the braying state-power bedwetters, as usual, was West Virginia's daily Charleston Gazette: "The slaughter of schoolchildren is a price America pays for being a gun-polluted society ... The recent mass shooting at an Oregon school was the latest in a never-ending string of horrors. This is what happens in a society saturated with 200 million guns. Any child can obtain a weapon and use it in a moment of childish rage. This is what happens in a society where the powerful 'right to bear arms' lobby cows politicians, making them afraid to take any steps to protect people from the gun danger. How long will America endure this madness?" the coaldust daily ululated on May 22.
          The fanatical cries to disarm the victims even went international, with Germany's newspaper Bild pontificating on May 25 (in the quaintly spastic Associated Press translation): "A 15-year-old murdered his parents in Oregon, shot and killed two schoolmates and wounded 22 others. Again the affected will stand around the coffins, beseech God and bemoan the shameful crime. Probably they will barbarically punish the 15-year-old barbarian. Thereafter they will claim: continuous shooting in television -- only a game. The unscrupulous weapons trade -- a successful business. And the instructions to build bombs in the Internet had nothing to do with the bloody reality. Really not? High Noon in school. Disarm finally!! Also in television and the weapons closets at home. It's not a pistol that makes a man. Playing with violence is instructions on how to kill."
          We don't really have to respond to our Teutonic critics, do we? Their Jewish and Gypsy minorities took their advice to "Disarm finally!!" between 1928 and 1938 -- gun registration leading to confiscation, just as Mr. Schumer and Mr. LaPierre's back-stabbing NRA plan for us here, and is now underway again in both England and France.
          They claim European murder rates are lower than ours? Between 1928 and 1945, the German state murdered at least 8 million unarmed civilians from their own and the captured territories (not counting the deaths of men in uniform, though we probably should.) Counting famines created on purpose for political reasons, Joe Stalin and his Communists during the same years murdered civilians numbering at least 20 million. Even assuming not one single murder has occurred in Europe since 1945 -- ignoring Bosnia and all the rest -- that averages out to 400,000 murders per year since 1928, caused by the citizenry being disarmed, while their governments stayed armed -- exactly what's planned for us here.
          Or have the brave state socialists like Mr. Schumer or Sen. Feinstein called for disarming the DEA, the ATF, and the FBI -- America's SS -- while I wasn't listening?

The Government Dispensary

          Any death of a child is a tragedy. But if someone has to be callous enough to inject a few facts into this debate, let's start here: our murder rates are way below the European rate reported above, not in spite of, but because we are a well-armed nation, where the government (up until the past decade, when they started testing the waters with Waco and Ruby Ridge) never dared attempt such atrocities.
          We'll have more now, of course, after federal judge Edward Lodge on May 14 -- one week prior to the Kinkel rampage -- dismissed all charges against FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, ruling he was "just doing his job" back in 1992 when he shot away the lower jaw and carotid artery of an Idaho woman named Vicki Weaver, wanted for no crime, whom he found standing in the kitchen doorway of her home, armed with a baby. Vicki Weaver screamed for 30 seconds as she lay dying, whereupon the FBI agents who had her family home besieged named their encampment "Camp Vicky," and taunted her surviving family members over their bullhorns, asking if "Mom" was going to cook them blueberry pancakes. The fact that Gunner Horiuchi -- who has testified his qualifications include accuracy within one-half-inch at the range from which he shot Mrs. Weaver -- will not even face a manslaughter trial was by far the most important gun-crime-related story of May, 1998 ... yet how much play did it receive in your local newspaper or television station?)
          Actually, some excellent commentary has moved on the wires in the week since the Springfield cafeteria shooting, though it will be interesting to measure how much of this common sense made it through the nation's anti-gun editorial filters.
          While "What caused this?" tends to be a rhetorical question, with the inquirer standing ready to answer "guns," isn't it interesting that the day before young Kip Kinkel had his bad day in Springfield, two teens were arrested in Clearfield, Penn. for the 10-days-past murder of 15-year-old Kimberly Jo Dotts, who was dragged into the woods by her teenage friends with a rope around her neck when she threatened to "snitch" about their plans to run away to Florida. There, they hanged young Kimberly Jo by her neck from a tree, before bashing her head in with a rock.
          How do the gun-grabbers explain the role of the "easy availability of guns" in causing that schoolgirl murder, in which no firearms were involved? Easy. They just ignore it. In my newspaper, the arrests in Kimberly Jo's death were buried on page 12, on the same day the Kip Kinkel story broke on page one, with photos. And since it didn't fit the anti-gun agenda, Kimberly Jo's horrendous murder was thereafter ignored -- even as we heard day after day of anti-gun drum-beating follow-ups about Kip Kinkel's rampage.
          But even in the Oregon case, there is a far more obvious suspect than "guns," as Maureen Sielaff was quick to detail in the Vigo Examiner (http://www.Vigo-Examiner.com):
          "Kip Kinkel had been attending anger control classes and was taking a prescription drug called Prozac," Ms. Sielaff reported early the next week. "Eli Lilly of Indianapolis, Indiana was recently sued over the homicidal tendencies this drug is alleged to induce in patients.
          "Prozac is commonly given to youth as a treatment for depression. In the book Prozac and other Psychiatric Drugs by Lewis A. Opler, M.D., Ph.D., the following side effects are listed for Prozac: apathy; hallucinations; hostility; irrational ideas; and paranoid reactions, antisocial behavior; hysteria; and suicidal thoughts."
          The drug's form PV 2472 DPP, prepared by Dista Products Company (a division of Eli Lilly) and last revised on June 12, 1997 -- the paperwork included in each package of Prozac -- lists such other "frequent" symptoms as "chills, hemorrhage and hypertension of the cardiovascular system, nausea and vomiting, agitation, amnesia, confusion, emotional liability, sleep disorder, ear pain, taste perversion, and tinnitus."
          If this kid gets a good lawyer, look for a "Prozac defense." And if that happens, my cheery thought for the day is that young Kipland could be looking at as little as three-to-seven on the psychiatric farm.
          "Though many are demanding stricter gun control laws as a solution to this sudden increase in homicidal shootings," Ms. Sielaff continues, "these events do not appear to correlate to a sudden increase in firearm ownership. But when the percentage of these killers that are on Prozac is compared to the percentage of the general public on Prozac, a very disturbing pattern emerges ... "
          In an apparently unrelated incident, I find the Cincinnati Inquirer editorializing on May 14, "Last month, when a classmate suffered a severe asthma attack on a school bus in Mount Airy, MD, Christine Rhodes, 12, shared her prescription inhaler with the stricken girl -- possibly saving her life.
          "In a rational world, Christine would be hailed as a hero. But 'rational' is not a word that fits the world of education these days. Christine was branded a 'drug trafficker' by school officials -- a black mark that will remain on her record for three years. Makes you wonder what they were inhaling."
          Two years before, and also in Ohio, the paper noted, "Two middle-school girls were suspended for sharing a packet of Midol."
          It is not the dimmest, but the brightest of our young men who are bound to go stir crazy as their government incarceration stretches to 13 years and beyond ... as they are forced to spend 12 or 13 years having the sparks of creativity and intellectual curiosity snuffed out, learning less than their grandfathers learned in eight, merely to satisfy the labor unions' economically misguided desire to keep them off the job market, bolstered by the teachers' union full-court-press for full employment now dubbed "dropout prevention."
          Meantime, as the religious zealots whoop it up, demonizing every recreational drug of choice but their own, just as fast as they do "guns," does anyone really know how many of our schoolchildren (particularly boys) are now doped up by school nurses with Prozac and Ritalin, relatively new drugs whose long-term psychiatric effects are only now beginning to be discovered?
          If you shut up enough animals in a small enough cage, they will eventually start killing one another. Do the mass dopings of kids like Kip Kinkel subdue their "escape" response, and if so are the effects actually worse when they finally break through? Is anyone even tracking the growth rate of these mass drug-dosings of our innocent young men by their government wardens? And doesn't this mean our schools' "zero tolerance" drug policies really only mean zero tolerance for competing drug pushers?

The Crime Shortage

          On May 28, I published across the top of our own Op-ed page here in Las Vegas a piece by James K. Glassman of the American Enterprise Institute, pointing out that the New York Times ran the story of the Springfield, OR shootings "for three straight days on the front page," while "President Clinton used his Saturday radio address to decry the 'changing culture that desensitizes our children to violence'."
          The only problem is, according to Mr. Glassman, "The truth about violence in America is that it is falling, not rising. From 1993 to 1996, the number of murders fell 20 percent, and just four days before the Oregon shootings, the FBI announced preliminary figures for 1997 that found both murders and robbery down another 9 percent and overall crime off for the sixth straight year. Murders in New York City fell a stunning 22 percent in 1997; in Los Angeles, 20 percent. ...
          "You have to wonder about the claims of pop psychologists and of the president himself when he says, as he did Saturday, that the rising tide of murders and mayhem on TV, in movies and on video games, is turning kids into killers. U.S. News noted that 'juvenile murder arrests declined ... 14 percent from 1994 to 1995 and another 14 percent from 1995 to 1996'."
          But if violence is falling, why do these rare schoolyard incidents get so much media play?
          "One answer may be a crime shortage," Mr. Glassman figures. "At a Harvard symposium recently, one panelist pointed out that local TV news shows have to import violent footage now that local criminals aren't turning out enough product (there were only 43 murders in Boston last year, the fewest since 1961) ...
          "So, what's the meaning of the schoolhouse slayings? Frankly, not much. The meaning of the hysteria over them ... now, that's worth looking into."
          Writing for the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service a few days later, Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., concurred:
          "I have now been on television news following every one of the recent school killings answering basically the same question: 'How do you explain the trend of shootings by kids in rural schools?' My answer is always the same: I cannot explain it, because no such trend exists ...
          "In 1992, 55 killings occurred in America's schools -- a remarkably small number. By 1997, that number dropped by more than half, to 25. By contrast, 88 people were killed by lightning in 1997.
          "The Los Angeles County School System, with about 600,000 students in it, has not had a homicide since 1995. The District of Columbia, with about 600,000 citizens, has had about 600 homicides since that time.
          "Overall, between 1994 and 1996, there was a 30 percent drop in juvenile homicides in America. Ninety kids were arrested in rural communities for the crime of homicide in 1996, compared to 1,800 in cities ...
          "Between 1992 and 1996, the homicide rate in America dropped by 20 percent. But the number of homicides reported on network news increased by 721 percent ... Distorted coverage of ... these events has violated recently victimized communities, frightened parents, fomented reactionary legislation and misinformed the public. Worst of all, it may be creating an environment where other troubled youths are copy-catting their well-publicized peers."

Too Many Laws

          The NRA's standard cry, "Why don't we enforce the laws already on the books?" can get to sound pretty lame through repetition. But in fact, I remember interviewing Marion Hammer of Florida (since elected to head the NRA in Washington) about one of the tourist murders in Florida five years back, and having her point out that the culprit -- a young woman -- had been arrested for being a convicted felon in possession of an illegal concealed weapon while shoplifting -- as well as resisting arrest -- only few days before. The authorities let her out due to a lack of jail space (too many victimless dope smokers tying up the cells, presumably.)
          Similarly, Kip Kinkel was arrested and booked for storing a stolen gun at school the day before his murder rampage ... but then promptly released back into his helpless parents' custody. So, it turns out the NRA's recurrent cry has some specific application: why push for more gun laws, when the cops aren't able enforce the 20,000 gun laws already on the books? To outlaw everything has the same effect as to legalize everything, except that the cops are thus empowered to harass anyone, any time they want.
          The Florida tourist-shooting epidemic is also relevant in another way. In 1993, as research by Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State University has shown, Florida crime rates were actually plummeting, due to new laws which allowed far more law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. As that beneficial change took place, the only motorists who criminals could be assured would be unarmed were newly-arrived tourists driving rental cars with big fluorescent rent-a-car stickers. Once the airport rental lots started removing those stickers, Florida's "tourist murder crime wave" disappeared virtually overnight. Similarly, one of the last places a criminal knows he can find unarmed victims in an increasingly well-armed and peaceful America today ... is in the "gun free school zones" in which the snivelliberals have locked up our children.

Hand Out More Guns

          In fact, it turns out that if a solution to schoolyard violence is needed, experts with some mighty solid credentials propose that the solution is not to ban guns, but to hand out more:
          On Monday, June 1, I published in the Review-Journal an excellent piece initially prepared for the Los Angeles Times by John R. Lott, Jr., a fellow at University of Chicago School of Law, and author of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 1998), under the headline: "To stop mass shootings, hand out more guns: when Israel armed teachers, the school shootings ended."
          In that essay, Professor Lott writes: "What might appear to be the most obvious policy may actually cost lives. When gun-control laws are passed, it is law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, who adhere to them. Police officers or armed guards cannot be stationed everywhere, so gun-control laws risk creating situations in which the good guys cannot defend themselves.
          "Other countries have followed a different solution. Twenty or so years ago in Israel, there were many instances of terrorists pulling out machine guns and firing away at civilians in public. However, with expanded concealed-handgun use by Israeli citizens, terrorists soon found ordinary people pulling pistols on them. Suffice it to say, terrorists in Israel no longer engage in such public shootings.
          "The one recent shooting of schoolchildren in the Middle East further illustrates these points. On March 13, 1997, seven Israeli girls were shot to death by a Jordanian soldier while they visited Jordan's so-called "Island of Peace". The Los Angeles Times reported that the Israelis had 'complied with Jordanian requests to leave their weapons behind when they entered the border enclave. Otherwise, they might have been able to stop the shooting, several parents said.'
          "Hardly mentioned in the massive news coverage of the school- related shootings during the past year is how they ended. Two of the four shootings were stopped by a citizen displaying a gun. In the October 1997 shooting spree at a high school in Pearl, MS, which left two students dead, an assistant principal retrieved a gun from his car and physically immobilized the shooter while waiting for the police."
          That assistant principal had, fortunately for all, violated federal law by bringing that firearm onto campus, even though he left it in the glove compartment of his car.
          "More recently," Professor Lott continues, "the school-related shooting in Edinboro, PA, which left one teacher dead, was stopped only after a bystander pointed a shotgun at the shooter when he started to reload his gun. The police did not arrive for another 10 minutes. Who knows how many lives were saved by these prompt responses?"
          Dr. Lott's exhaustive studies of multiple-victim public shootings in the United States from 1977 to 1995 reveal that "only one policy was found to reduce deaths and injuries from these shootings: allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.
          "The effect of 'shall-issue' concealed handgun laws, which give adults the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness, was dramatic. Thirty-one states now have such laws. When states passed them during the 19 years we studied, the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted on average by 90 percent, injuries by 82 percent. ...
          "Unfortunately, much of the public policy debate is driven by lopsided coverage of gun use. Horrific events like the Colin Ferguson shooting receive massive news coverage, as they should, but the 2.5 million times each year that people use guns defensively -- including cases in which public shootings are stopped before they happen -- are ignored ... Without permitting law-abiding citizens the right to carry guns, we risk leaving victims as sitting ducks."
          Sitting ducks like Colin Ferguson's victims on the Long Island Railroad, that is -- all forbidden by New York law to carry weapons for their own self-defense.
          The gun-grabbers will respond "a resident of the house is more likely to be injured than an intruder." But only if they cleverly include suicides in their statistics, of course. Besides, you can scare away 100 intruders without ever wounding one, just by showing (or audibly cocking) your weapon. Which makes the minuscule "injury" statistics a red herring.

Crediting Eddie Eagle

          All these statistics can get a little boggling, I know. So let's take a specific example. The Elko Daily Free Press reports that on April 7 of this year, an unnamed 15-year-old boy in that northern Nevada community tried to stop an intruder from beating his mother, but found he was not strong enough to do so. The lad therefore raced into his mother's bedroom, retrieving a .22 semiautomatic handgun, loaded several rounds into the magazine, inserted the magazine into the weapon, returned, and fired at the assailant three times, hitting him twice and killing him.
          "He is credited with saving the life of his mother, and possibly the 3-year-old child also present," the newspaper reports. "The mother suffered a broken cheekbone, a broken nose, several bruises on her body, and a cut to her forehead from the attack."
          "It seems to me to be a fairly clear-cut case of self-defense," said D.A. Gary Woodbury, in which case "an inquest is not warranted."
          If Mr. Schumer's proposed federal "gun lock" bill had been in effect -- or even the non-federal version tacitly okayed by Mr. LaPierre -- the Elko teenager would have done better attempting to whack his mother's assailant with a fireplace log.
          Following the successful Israeli example of arming teachers and parent volunteers, Georgia state legislator Mitchell Kaye has now proposed one of the few legislative initiatives likely to directly address the problem: he wants to authorize and encourage Georgia teachers to carry concealed weapons at school. "They know that all the adults in these school gun-free zones are unarmed, and that's the problem," Kaye told CNN the day after the Oregon shootings.
          In a carefully scripted line, the gun-grabbers reply that teachers "are supposed to educate children, not execute them."
          But we don't give weapons to police officers in the hopes they'll "execute" their suspects, do we? Guns are the great deterrent, preventing crime by their very presence.
          The NRA does do something useful. The victim disarmament gang whine that the group's "Eddie Eagle" gun safety and training classes are nothing but "Joe Camel with feathers." But as it turns out, the parents of the young wrestling team member who finally jumped and subdued Kip Kinkel, 17-year-old Jacob Ryker, credit his firearms training with the fact that he was able to detect when Kinkel's .22 rifle was empty, timing his leap when the assailant had to change weapons.
          Linda Ryker also credited her son's familiarity with firearms for helping Jacob deal with the crisis, keeping his wits about him even after he was shot. With his son shot but recovering, Linda's husband Robert, a Navy diver, proudly wore his National Rifle Association cap during the family's press conference.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at vin@lvrj.com. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.

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