At the Washington Times: There have been no shooting attacks in schools where teachers can legally carry guns

Apr 11, 2023 | op-ed

Dr. John Lott and Thomas Massie have a new op-ed at the Washington Times. The piece was the “most popular piece on the Washington Times website.

Earlier this month, cameras filmed Rep. Jamaal Bowman, New York Democrat, yelling in the halls of Congress that “Republicans won’t do s—- when it comes to gun violence.” It’s a common refrain from gun control advocates.

“Force [Republicans] to respond!’ Mr. Bowman shouted. “Why the hell won’t they do anything to save America’s children? And let them explain that all the way up to Election Day on 2024.”

That was when one of us, Rep. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Republican, happened to walk by and pointed out, “Did you know there’s never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry?”

“Carry guns?!” Mr. Bowman shouted back at the top of his lungs. “More guns lead to more death!”

When Mr. Massie tried to respond, Mr. Bowman continued shouting so loudly that Mr. Massie could not be heard. Mr. Massie reminded Mr. Bowman that, at that very moment, both of them were being protected by guns in the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Bowman, seemingly forgetting his request from just a minute earlier for Republicans to explain, even physically pushed between Mr. Massie and the cameras to prevent Mr. Massie from being heard.

What facts are Mr. Bowman so scared of? Why is it so upsetting for him to learn there have been no shooting attacks in schools where teachers can legally carry?

That statistic comes from the other author of this piece, John Lott. According to Michael Bloomberg’s gun violence news website, The Trace, Mr. Lott is a “major factor” behind why the U.S. hasn’t passed stronger gun control laws — an assertion that suggests the policies Mr. Lott supports caused mass public shootings.

Here’s the reality: Guns in the hands of teachers and other responsible citizens can prevent mass shootings.

On March 27, a mass murderer once again attacked a place where guns were already banned. Six were killed at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

As with many other mass public shootings, people with guns actually deterred the school shooter from attacking another potential location. In the words of Nashville Police Chief John Drake: “There was another location that was mentioned, but because of a threat assessment by the suspect of too much security, they decided not to.” It was soon revealed that she had passed up two different targets because “the security was too great to do what she wanted to do.”

Many other shooters have expressed similar fears of armed pushback. Last year, the shooter in Buffalo, New York, wrote: “Areas where CCW permits are low may also be good areas of attack.”

Most national media outlets refuse to report on that and also ignore similar explicit statements by other attackers. They also fail to report that 94% of mass public shootings occur in places where civilians are banned from having guns.

Twenty states already allow teachers to carry concealed handguns. In Utah and New Hampshire, any teacher with a concealed handgun permit can carry. In other states, it is up to school boards or superintendents to decide. And there have been no mass shootings under that policy.

Last week, Mr. Massie reintroduced the Safe Students Act to repeal the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. The national default should not be to advertise our children as sitting ducks.

Naturally, everyone wants to do something to prevent this type of violence, but many of the proposals being talked about would do nothing to stop these attacks.

For example, within hours of the shooting at The Covenant School, President Biden called for an assault weapons ban. But even The Associated Press’ Stylebook recognizes that the term “assault weapon” conveys “little meaning” and is “highly politicized.” It’s nonsensical to ban guns just because they look like military weapons when they function exactly like semi-automatic hunting rifles.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in place from 1994 to 2004, didn’t reduce the rate of mass public shootings that involved prohibited weapons.

Another favorite proposal from gun control advocates is background checks on the private transfer of guns. But that wouldn’t have stopped the school shooting in Nashville. In fact, there is not one mass public shooting this century that such laws would have stopped, even if they were in place and perfectly enforced.

Meanwhile, many Republicans are backing the federal Safe Schools Act, which is different from Mr. Massie’s bill and which would fund armed school safety officers. Having an armed ally in a school could indeed stop some attacks, but the drawback is that readily identifiable officers are an easy target for mass shooters.

Mr. Biden is right that schools shouldn’t be like prisons and lockdown drills are a sad reality today. But there is another alternative. Instead of posting gun-free zone signs in front of schools, let’s post signs warning attackers that there are staff members with concealed handguns.

• John Lott is the president of Crime Prevention Research Center. Republican Rep. Thomas Massie represents Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District and is the co-chair of the Second Amendment Caucus.

John R. Lott, Jr. and Thomas Massie, “There have been no shooting attacks in schools where teachers can legally carry guns,” Washington Times, April 10, 2023.