With every mass shooting comes a debate over what caused this tragedy and what could have stopped it.
Each time, the circumstances of the carnage differ slightly, allowing commentators to focus on what would have prevented this particular incident and not on the obvious common factor: that America is a country with almost as many guns as people where purchasing a gun is incredibly easy, including guns that make it very easy to kill a lot of people at once.
Because the National Rifle Association has moved the gun conversation so far to the right, and because there are simply so many guns in America, gun control advocates tend to propose solutions that would likely fall short of stopping mass shootings, or even other gun deaths. Background checks wouldn’t have caught the Las Vegas shooter who killed 58 people, for instance. A lot of energy has been poured into trying to ban assault weapons, as it should be, but most gun homicides involve handguns. (Most gun deaths, in fact, are suicides, and using a gun makes it a lot more likely that a person who tries to kill themselves will succeed.)
This isn’t the fault of gun control advocates. It’s just the hand they’ve been dealt, and it’s totally fair and sensible to propose solutions that would mitigate, if not end, gun deaths, given the political and cultural circumstances that make it impossible for America to truly consider the thing that would stop them: making it very, very hard to buy any gun, and confiscating many of the 300 million guns in civilian hands.
But there is another category of proposed solutions to gun violence: those that are not just insufficient or timid, but downright stupid. These are usually proposed by people who want to pretend that there are solutions that don’t involve restricting guns at all, though sometimes the ideas are just the last resort of frightened individuals.
What follows is a list of everything that has been proposed to solve mass shootings that isn’t “ban guns, the things that are used to shoot and kill people.”
In the days after the Parkland shooting, many, including our dumbass president, suggested we should arm teachers as a way to protect schools against mass shootings. In some states, like Texas, teachers can already carry guns. From USA Today:
Texas school administrators operating under what’s known as the Guardian Plan are allowed to carry handguns on them or keep them locked in a safe. Schools receive stipends under the plan to cover ammunition for practice and annual tactical training. The plan is just one of three ways Texas public schools can arm staff. Others include forming police forces and establishing school marshals. Districts also may contract with security firms and law enforcement to patrol campuses.
Two days after Donald Trump released his proposal about arming teachers, a teacher in California accidentally fired one shot during a public safety class. It caused moderate injuries to a 17-year-old boy when “fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged into his neck.”
A rural Pennsylvania school district has equipped all 200 of its classrooms with buckets of rocks that students and teachers could use as a “last line of defense” in the event of a school shooting, the district’s superintendent said on Friday.
The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High returned to class this week forced to wear clear backpacks—designed, presumably, to alert teachers if someone was carrying a gun into school in a backpack. The students mercilessly roasted the pointlessness of the backpacks:
Some companies are selling bulletproof backpacks or bulletproof inserts to backpacks. One company told ABC News that the bags “sold out within three days of the shooting” in Parkland. Their effectiveness is mixed: an expert told ABC that a backpack would need to be made of steel or titanium to protect against rifle fire, though the company that makes the bags said it “could be the difference between [a] lethal and unlethal wound.” The bags also range in cost from $200 to $500.
After the shooting at YouTube’s headquarters this week, ABC News posited that perhaps the “open campus model often favored by Silicon Valley tech companies” was too vulnerable, and quoted a former U.S. counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security:
“The problem is, from a security perspective, the more open, the more that an individual can move around and come into contact with other people, the easier it is for an attacker to operate in that environment, as well,” Cohen said.
With open work spaces, employees “aren’t in self-contained offices with doors that can lock — they’re instead in these huge rooms. There may be controlled access to get into that work space,” Cohen said, but “that controlled access can be bypassed by someone who is really committed to do it.” And once you get inside the open space, there is “tremendous accessibility,” he added.
Yeah definitely, open offices are the problem. Why stop there? Why not seal every worker into a closed pod made of steel, accessible only by fingerprint technology?
Former presidential candidate and famous secretion Rick Santorum suggested that instead of working to end gun violence, the Parkland students should learn CPR, saying: “How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that.” He later said he misspoke—but only because CPR does nothing for a shooting victim.
When Sen. Mike Rounds was asked about the Parkland shooting, he gave this answer:
I think number one you have to recognize, our most valuable assets are our kids, and yet at the same time when we start talking about the security activities that we’ve done so far, we’ve tried but many cases we probably haven’t looked at exactly what it’s going to take to provide multiple lines of defense around schools. Nobody wants to see schools turned into armed fortresses, and yet compare that with just walking into this office building right here, you walk into this office building right here, there’s locked doors to begin with, you’ve got to be allowed in, one at time, there’s cameras there, then you go into the front desk, where you are then ID’d and then you are able to come in with an escort into the rest of the building. Compare that with what happens with a school. So what I think we have to be talking about if we really want to do this is look at whether or not we’re prepared to put resources in place that will actually allow for multiple lines of defense on a school by school basis.
Absolutely, much better if a mass shooter has to shoot someone on reception first.
Special mention must be made of columnist Megan McArdle and her truly offensive suggestion, after the Newtown massacre (of children), that young people (children) should just bum-rush the shooter (with their child bodies):
I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.
On April 10, Erie News Now reported that the Millcreek School District in Pennsylvania has handed out a 16-inch baseball bat to each of its 500 teachers as “an option for teachers to use, should they need to fight back in a school shooting.” Millcreek School District Superintendent William Hall described the bats as “the last resort” and “symbolic”—symbolic, presumably, of the utterly desperate situation these teachers are in.
This post has been updated.