Some Perspective You May Not Have Heard

On Sunday John Fund posted an article at the National Review that provides a slightly different perspective on the murders in Connecticut on Friday. The first thing Mr. Fund points out is that mass murders are not becoming more frequent–their frequency has actually declined.

The article reports:

In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.

The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.

Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.

Obviously the statistics do not mask the horror of what happened, but we do need to put this in perspective. I don’t think it helps that every newscast has at least three stories about the shooting or that a lot of the information being put out is false.

Mr. Fund mentions the two aspects of this tragedy that are not being widely discussed–how we treat the mentally ill and the fallacy of creating gun-free zones.

Mental illness has played a major role in many of these shootings. The article reports:

First, the mental-health issue. A lengthy study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.” New York Times columnist David Brooks and Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson have both suggested that the ACLU-inspired laws that make it so difficult to intervene and identify potentially dangerous people should be loosened. “Will we address mental-health and educational-privacy laws, which instill fear of legal liability for reporting potentially violent mentally ill people to law enforcement?” asks Professor Jacobson. “I doubt it.”

There will always be a danger of someone being wrongly committed to a mental institution, and there will always be an issue about how institutions treat the mentally ill and how much room is available at these institutions. A blog called “The Anarchist Soccer Mom” posted an article on Friday entitled, “Thinking the Unthinkable.” The writer states her challenges and fears in dealing with her own teenage son who has threatened to take her life and his own. She states that she is unable to have him committed until he actually follows through on his threat.

The article also reports on the failure of gun-free zones:

Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive. “Guns are already banned in schools. That is why the shootings happen in schools. A school is a ‘helpless-victim zone,’” says Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff. “Preventing any adult at a school from having access to a firearm eliminates any chance the killer can be stopped in time to prevent a rampage,” Jim Kouri, the public-information officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me earlier this year at the time of the Aurora, Colo., Batman-movie shooting. Indeed, there have been many instances — from the high-school shooting by Luke Woodham in Mississippi, to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. — where a killer has been stopped after someone got a gun from a parked car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.

Please read the entire National Review article by John Fund. The article cites many of the facts that the media seems to have ignored.

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