AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Former President Bill Clinton may be gearing up to help his wife try, yet again, to be president. Or, he may be latching onto a popular political target with his likely supporters so he can run his mouth and try to remain relevant. Honestly, I don’t know which.
But for some reason, he felt he needed to utter absolute nonsense regarding school shootings.
Proving there is no statute of limitations on political opportunism, this week former President Bill Clinton used the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the tragic school shooting in Littleton, Colo. to pen an op-ed pushing the modern gun control agenda. In doing so, Clinton adopted several of the tired falsehoods that have become attendant to this debate.
In recalling a White House conference on school violence that touched upon school shootings in 1999, Clinton noted, “This was a year before Columbine, when our nation did not foresee how increasingly frequent such attacks would become…” This passage is intended to give the impression that school violence and school shootings are common occurrences that have increased since the 1990s. This is not true.
As we note elsewhere this week, research from Northeastern University Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy James Alan Fox has made clear that schools are safer than they were in the 1990s. A summary of Fox’s research published by Northeastern in 2018 explained that “Mass school shootings are incredibly rare events.”
Citing an interview with Fox, the article also stated,
Four times the number of children were killed in schools in the early 1990s than today, Fox said. “There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” he said, adding that more kids are killed each year from pool drownings or bicycle accidents.
Casting doubt on the efficacy of the gun control policies Clinton has offered to eliminate such violence, Fox went on to state, “The thing to remember is that these are extremely rare events, and no matter what you can come up with to prevent it, the shooter will have a workaround.”
Of course, this is just a snippet of a much longer post looking at Clinton’s comments about mass shootings and gun control. I urge you to see what old Slick Willie had to say on the topic.
Because something he didn’t mention was that while we were honoring the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, that horrific event fell smack dab in the middle of a period in history where we had an assault weapon ban on the books.
If banning assault weapons was likely to an impact mass shootings, how is it that the most famous mass shooting in American history happened right in the middle of the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994 era?
That’s the question I want the former president to answer. If laws like that are going to have an impact, and if they’re necessary to prevent tragedies, then why the hell didn’t it?
Of course, I already know the answer. It didn’t because it couldn’t.
Mass shootings are an incredibly complex problem, one we don’t even understand yet. The one thing we can understand, if we open our eyes to look, is that these mass killers are mass killers. Take away their guns, and they’ll use vans. The pathology that makes them want to kill as many people as possible is still there, even if they don’t have access to a gun.
In other words, it’s well past time to start looking beyond gun control and into doing something more productive.
But that starts with being honest about these events. It’s fine to say they’re more common than any of us want them to be. Once a century is far too often. Yet pretending they’re happening daily, as some gun control groups have claimed, they are devaluing mass shootings as a whole.