On April 2, 2012, we once again witnessed the tragedy of a shooter walking into a place of education, totally unimpeded, and killing one (or more) people before getting safely arrested (sometimes after leaving the scene of the crime) or committing suicide. Or, as we have unfortunately come to call them, school shootings. This time, a 43 year old man who was angry over being teased about his inability to speak English and for being expelled from Oikos University in Oakland, California randomly chose people at the university to shoot after he was unable to locate a specific school administrator.
Similar to any of the school shootings that have taken place prior to this incident, there was no way for anyone at the school to defend themselves. Nor was there any armed protection on campus to protect those who couldn’t defend themselves. One Goh is the name of the man who carried out this latest attack, and he had no trouble carrying out the plan that he had worked on for weeks prior to the attack. Walking into a school – any school, any level – and committing an act of violence is something that is all too easy to do these days.
California is a state that maintains the highest score on the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence State Scorecard ratings. With a score of 81 points out of 100, California is the only “4 star state” on their scorecard. (Iowa received a score of 7, tied for 25th with Maine & Ohio, and received a “0 star” rating.) In spite of this, Goh was all too successful in taking innocent lives on Monday. His success was not based on his ability to get a firearm. Nor was his success based on the weeks of planning that he put into his act, or his use of a semi-automatic pistol that could be easily fired and reloaded. His success was based on one simple fact: when committing an act of violence in a school setting, there is nothing in place to prevent the act from taking place.
There are no metal detectors at the doors, manned by armed guards. There are no armed guards assigned to the hallways, let alone in the administration offices or classrooms. Faculty, staff, and students are prohibited from carrying firearms. Someone with the mindset of doing harm would find nothing in place to stop such an attack.
This same scenario has been played out time after time in different locations, but with similar results. Virginia Tech. Columbine High School. Millard South High School (Omaha, NE). Nickel Mines, PA. These are just four examples of school shooting that provided a target rich environment for killers who had nothing in their way to prevent them from carrying out their plan. Since the January 17, 1989 school shooting in Stockton, California, 92 people – mostly students – have been killed in school shootings that involved multiple fatalities. The attack at Millard South HS is not included in that number, but the attack at the University of Iowa on November 1, 1991 is included. The Stockton shooting is credited with having a direct effect on the banning of “assault weapons” in California.
But still, that ban did nothing to prevent the deaths in Oakland yesterday. Nor did it prevent 4 deaths in Olivehusrt, CA on May 1, 1992.
Legislation has been introduced in Iowa to allow private investigators and private security guards with an Iowa Professional Permit to Carry Weapons to carry firearms during the course of their duties on school grounds. That legislation has died every year it was introduced. While it does not completely solve the problem, it is a step in the right direction.
It is clear that banning firearms on campuses and banning “assault weapons” has done nothing to stop school shootings, even in California, where the Brady Campaign finds a great deal of support. It is human nature to find the path of least resistance. In the case of a criminal who is intent on doing as much damage as possible, the path of least resistance is to find a location where people will not be present to fight back against an attacker. Gun free school zones are exactly that – zones where an attacker will not meet any resistance from someone using a firearm. No amount of legislation will ever make a school zone totally safe unless there is an armed guard assigned to every student and administrator.
The true definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. How many more times will we enact this law or that rule, and expect to see different results? How many more students, faculty, and staff need to be killed before someone decides that perhaps it might be a good idea to actually allow a building with our most precious treasures – our kids – to have people armed and ready to defend the lives of those inside the school?