It may seem shocking to us today in this era where the idea that the existence of guns in society is in and of itself a cause for violence, but there was a time when guns in US schools were pretty common:
In 1975, New York state had over 80 school districts with rifle teams. In 1984, that had dropped to 65. By 1999 there were just 26. The state’s annual riflery championship was shut down in 1986 for lack of demand. This, sadly, is a familiar story across the country. The clubs are fading from memory, too. A Chicago Tribune report from 2007 notes the astonishment of a Wisconsin mother who discovered that her children’s school had a range on site. “I was surprised, because I never would have suspected to have something like that in my child’s school,” she told the Tribune. The district’s superintendent admitted that it was now a rarity, confessing that he “often gets raised eyebrows” if he mentions the range to other educators. The astonished mother raised her eyebrows — and then led a fight to have the range closed. “Guns and school don’t mix,” she averred. “If you have guns in school, that does away with the whole zero-tolerance policy.”
But how wise is that “zero-tolerance policy”? Until 1989, there were only a few school shootings in which more than two victims were killed. This was despite widespread ownership of — and familiarity with — weapons and an absence of “gun-free zones.”
It seems pretty hard to argue that so-called “gun free zones” have accomplished anything but putting targets on the back of those in the “gun free zone.”
Making a school or a campus or any other place a “gun free zone” attracts shooters who know they’re likely to find unarmed prey in those areas. The shootings we all want to stop are happening, overwhelmingly, in “gun free zones.”
Maybe it’s time to do something about that.