Stop Schoolyard Shootings: Hand Out More Guns
By Vin Suprynowicz
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
On May 21, all indications are that pencil-necked 15-year-old
misfit Kipland Kinkel, younger child (and the only one still living at
home) of well-to-do government schoolteacher parents, took a
.22 caliber rifle, shot his mother and father to death in their home,
and then headed down to the school cafeteria to wound 22 of his
schoolmates, while killing two more.
What were all the kids in the mill town of Springfield, Oregon
doing in the school cafeteria so early that morning? Being taught to
expect a government dole and subsidy even for breakfast, it now
At any rate, it was another shooting in the "gun-free zones" which
the "send-a-message" liberals have made of our mandatory youth
propaganda camps -- oops, "public schools." So, needless to say, the
Usual Suspects were shortly heard from.
Within days Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association --
America's largest gun control outfit -- showed up on Katie Couric's
smugly hoplophobic NBC Today show, "debating" all-guns-to-the-state
Congressman Charles Schumer on a typically heads-they-win-tales-we-
lose question: whether it is federal or only local authorities who
should "mandate" gun locks.
Needless to say, Mr. LaPierre never asked why they were debating
locks for handguns, when all the recent schoolyard shootings were done
with long guns. For that matter, the firearms used in these crimes
were not full-auto machine weapons (no innocent American civilians
have been killed by such legally-owned weapons in years, except by
government agents), nor the "murderous" assault weapons which Messrs.
Schumer and Clinton are busily banning, with their "deadly" pistol
grips, flash hiders, and bayonet lugs. (That kind of weapon, as it
turns out, kills an average of three Americans per year ... fewer than
are killed by bowling balls.)
Since few to none of the recent school killings have been
accomplished with handguns (Master Kinkel, like his recent
predecessors in Arkansas, carried a handgun for backup, but preferred
to do most of his shooting with his more accurate rifle -- precisely
the type of "sporting weapon" which the gun-grabbers tell us is safer
to have around), this opportunistic political carrion-feeding on the
young dead to promote bad laws already in the hopper makes about as
much sense as fighting highway fatalities by requiring more life
preservers on pleasure boats.
Nor did Mr. LaPierre ever call the gun-banner's biggest bluff --
never asking Schumer, "So you're saying gun locks are enough? If you
get this law passed you'll never propose another gun control law?
This isn't just one more incremental step toward total prohibition?"
After all, once the victim disarmament gang effectively outlawed
machineguns for most Americans, they didn't hesitate to ridicule the
real reason we own guns -- "a safeguard against tyranny," in the words
of Hubert Humphrey -- by simpering "Oh, you and your friends think
you can stop the 82nd Airborne with your deer rifles?"
Similarly, once every handgun in the country is required to be
double-padlocked inside a time-locked safe, do we think they'll
hesitate to argue, "Since you can no longer get the gun out on short
notice, it's no good to defend you against a rapist, so how can you
argue you still need it?"
Advice From the Germans
Highest soprano among the braying state-power bedwetters, as
usual, was West Virginia's daily Charleston Gazette: "The slaughter
of schoolchildren is a price America pays for being a gun-polluted
society ... The recent mass shooting at an Oregon school was the
latest in a never-ending string of horrors. This is what happens in a
society saturated with 200 million guns. Any child can obtain a
weapon and use it in a moment of childish rage. This is what happens
in a society where the powerful 'right to bear arms' lobby cows
politicians, making them afraid to take any steps to protect people
from the gun danger. How long will America endure this madness?" the
coaldust daily ululated on May 22.
The fanatical cries to disarm the victims even went international,
with Germany's newspaper Bild pontificating on May 25 (in the
quaintly spastic Associated Press translation): "A 15-year-old
murdered his parents in Oregon, shot and killed two schoolmates and
wounded 22 others. Again the affected will stand around the coffins,
beseech God and bemoan the shameful crime. Probably they will
barbarically punish the 15-year-old barbarian. Thereafter they will
claim: continuous shooting in television -- only a game. The
unscrupulous weapons trade -- a successful business. And the
instructions to build bombs in the Internet had nothing to do with the
bloody reality. Really not? High Noon in school. Disarm finally!!
Also in television and the weapons closets at home. It's not a pistol
that makes a man. Playing with violence is instructions on how to
We don't really have to respond to our Teutonic critics, do we?
Their Jewish and Gypsy minorities took their advice to "Disarm
finally!!" between 1928 and 1938 -- gun registration leading to
confiscation, just as Mr. Schumer and Mr. LaPierre's back-stabbing NRA
plan for us here, and is now underway again in both England and
They claim European murder rates are lower than ours? Between
1928 and 1945, the German state murdered at least 8 million unarmed
civilians from their own and the captured territories (not counting
the deaths of men in uniform, though we probably should.) Counting
famines created on purpose for political reasons, Joe Stalin and his
Communists during the same years murdered civilians numbering at least
20 million. Even assuming not one single murder has occurred in
Europe since 1945 -- ignoring Bosnia and all the rest -- that
averages out to 400,000 murders per year since 1928, caused by the
citizenry being disarmed, while their governments stayed armed --
exactly what's planned for us here.
Or have the brave state socialists like Mr. Schumer or Sen.
Feinstein called for disarming the DEA, the ATF, and the FBI --
America's SS -- while I wasn't listening?
The Government Dispensary
Any death of a child is a tragedy. But if someone has to be
callous enough to inject a few facts into this debate, let's start
here: our murder rates are way below the European rate reported
above, not in spite of, but because we are a well-armed nation,
where the government (up until the past decade, when they started
testing the waters with Waco and Ruby Ridge) never dared attempt such
We'll have more now, of course, after federal judge Edward Lodge
on May 14 -- one week prior to the Kinkel rampage -- dismissed all
charges against FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, ruling he was "just doing his
job" back in 1992 when he shot away the lower jaw and carotid artery
of an Idaho woman named Vicki Weaver, wanted for no crime, whom he
found standing in the kitchen doorway of her home, armed with a baby.
Vicki Weaver screamed for 30 seconds as she lay dying, whereupon the
FBI agents who had her family home besieged named their encampment
"Camp Vicky," and taunted her surviving family members over their
bullhorns, asking if "Mom" was going to cook them blueberry pancakes.
The fact that Gunner Horiuchi -- who has testified his qualifications
include accuracy within one-half-inch at the range from which he shot
Mrs. Weaver -- will not even face a manslaughter trial was by far the
most important gun-crime-related story of May, 1998 ... yet how much
play did it receive in your local newspaper or television station?)
Actually, some excellent commentary has moved on the wires in the
week since the Springfield cafeteria shooting, though it will be
interesting to measure how much of this common sense made it through
the nation's anti-gun editorial filters.
While "What caused this?" tends to be a rhetorical question, with
the inquirer standing ready to answer "guns," isn't it interesting
that the day before young Kip Kinkel had his bad day in Springfield,
two teens were arrested in Clearfield, Penn. for the 10-days-past
murder of 15-year-old Kimberly Jo Dotts, who was dragged into the
woods by her teenage friends with a rope around her neck when she
threatened to "snitch" about their plans to run away to Florida.
There, they hanged young Kimberly Jo by her neck from a tree, before
bashing her head in with a rock.
How do the gun-grabbers explain the role of the "easy availability
of guns" in causing that schoolgirl murder, in which no firearms
were involved? Easy. They just ignore it. In my newspaper, the
arrests in Kimberly Jo's death were buried on page 12, on the same day
the Kip Kinkel story broke on page one, with photos. And since it
didn't fit the anti-gun agenda, Kimberly Jo's horrendous murder was
thereafter ignored -- even as we heard day after day of anti-gun
drum-beating follow-ups about Kip Kinkel's rampage.
But even in the Oregon case, there is a far more obvious suspect
than "guns," as Maureen Sielaff was quick to detail in the Vigo
"Kip Kinkel had been attending anger control classes and was
taking a prescription drug called Prozac," Ms. Sielaff reported early
the next week. "Eli Lilly of Indianapolis, Indiana was recently sued
over the homicidal tendencies this drug is alleged to induce in
"Prozac is commonly given to youth as a treatment for depression.
In the book Prozac and other Psychiatric Drugs by Lewis A. Opler,
M.D., Ph.D., the following side effects are listed for Prozac:
apathy; hallucinations; hostility; irrational ideas; and paranoid
reactions, antisocial behavior; hysteria; and suicidal thoughts."
The drug's form PV 2472 DPP, prepared by Dista Products Company (a
division of Eli Lilly) and last revised on June 12, 1997 -- the
paperwork included in each package of Prozac -- lists such other
"frequent" symptoms as "chills, hemorrhage and hypertension of the
cardiovascular system, nausea and vomiting, agitation, amnesia,
confusion, emotional liability, sleep disorder, ear pain, taste
perversion, and tinnitus."
If this kid gets a good lawyer, look for a "Prozac defense." And
if that happens, my cheery thought for the day is that young Kipland
could be looking at as little as three-to-seven on the psychiatric
"Though many are demanding stricter gun control laws as a solution
to this sudden increase in homicidal shootings," Ms. Sielaff
continues, "these events do not appear to correlate to a sudden
increase in firearm ownership. But when the percentage of these
killers that are on Prozac is compared to the percentage of the
general public on Prozac, a very disturbing pattern emerges ... "
In an apparently unrelated incident, I find the Cincinnati
Inquirer editorializing on May 14, "Last month, when a classmate
suffered a severe asthma attack on a school bus in Mount Airy, MD,
Christine Rhodes, 12, shared her prescription inhaler with the
stricken girl -- possibly saving her life.
"In a rational world, Christine would be hailed as a hero. But
'rational' is not a word that fits the world of education these days.
Christine was branded a 'drug trafficker' by school officials -- a
black mark that will remain on her record for three years. Makes you
wonder what they were inhaling."
Two years before, and also in Ohio, the paper noted, "Two
middle-school girls were suspended for sharing a packet of Midol."
It is not the dimmest, but the brightest of our young men who are
bound to go stir crazy as their government incarceration stretches to
13 years and beyond ... as they are forced to spend 12 or 13 years
having the sparks of creativity and intellectual curiosity snuffed
out, learning less than their grandfathers learned in eight, merely to
satisfy the labor unions' economically misguided desire to keep them
off the job market, bolstered by the teachers' union full-court-press
for full employment now dubbed "dropout prevention."
Meantime, as the religious zealots whoop it up, demonizing every
recreational drug of choice but their own, just as fast as they do
"guns," does anyone really know how many of our schoolchildren
(particularly boys) are now doped up by school nurses with Prozac and
Ritalin, relatively new drugs whose long-term psychiatric effects are
only now beginning to be discovered?
If you shut up enough animals in a small enough cage, they will
eventually start killing one another. Do the mass dopings of kids
like Kip Kinkel subdue their "escape" response, and if so are the
effects actually worse when they finally break through? Is anyone
even tracking the growth rate of these mass drug-dosings of our
innocent young men by their government wardens? And doesn't this mean
our schools' "zero tolerance" drug policies really only mean zero
tolerance for competing drug pushers?
The Crime Shortage
On May 28, I published across the top of our own Op-ed page here
in Las Vegas a piece by James K. Glassman of the American Enterprise
Institute, pointing out that the New York Times ran the story of the
Springfield, OR shootings "for three straight days on the front page,"
while "President Clinton used his Saturday radio address to decry the
'changing culture that desensitizes our children to violence'."
The only problem is, according to Mr. Glassman, "The truth about
violence in America is that it is falling, not rising. From 1993 to
1996, the number of murders fell 20 percent, and just four days before
the Oregon shootings, the FBI announced preliminary figures for 1997
that found both murders and robbery down another 9 percent and overall
crime off for the sixth straight year. Murders in New York City fell
a stunning 22 percent in 1997; in Los Angeles, 20 percent. ...
"You have to wonder about the claims of pop psychologists and of
the president himself when he says, as he did Saturday, that the
rising tide of murders and mayhem on TV, in movies and on video games,
is turning kids into killers. U.S. News noted that 'juvenile murder
arrests declined ... 14 percent from 1994 to 1995 and another 14
percent from 1995 to 1996'."
But if violence is falling, why do these rare schoolyard incidents
get so much media play?
"One answer may be a crime shortage," Mr. Glassman figures. "At a
Harvard symposium recently, one panelist pointed out that local TV
news shows have to import violent footage now that local criminals
aren't turning out enough product (there were only 43 murders in
Boston last year, the fewest since 1961) ...
"So, what's the meaning of the schoolhouse slayings? Frankly, not
much. The meaning of the hysteria over them ... now, that's worth
Writing for the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service a few days
later, Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Justice Policy Institute in
Washington, D.C., concurred:
"I have now been on television news following every one of the
recent school killings answering basically the same question: 'How do
you explain the trend of shootings by kids in rural schools?' My
answer is always the same: I cannot explain it, because no such trend
"In 1992, 55 killings occurred in America's schools -- a
remarkably small number. By 1997, that number dropped by more than
half, to 25. By contrast, 88 people were killed by lightning in 1997.
"The Los Angeles County School System, with about 600,000 students
in it, has not had a homicide since 1995. The District of Columbia,
with about 600,000 citizens, has had about 600 homicides since that
"Overall, between 1994 and 1996, there was a 30 percent drop in
juvenile homicides in America. Ninety kids were arrested in rural
communities for the crime of homicide in 1996, compared to 1,800 in
"Between 1992 and 1996, the homicide rate in America dropped by 20
percent. But the number of homicides reported on network news
increased by 721 percent ... Distorted coverage of ... these events
has violated recently victimized communities, frightened parents,
fomented reactionary legislation and misinformed the public. Worst of
all, it may be creating an environment where other troubled youths are
copy-catting their well-publicized peers."
Too Many Laws
The NRA's standard cry, "Why don't we enforce the laws already on
the books?" can get to sound pretty lame through repetition. But in
fact, I remember interviewing Marion Hammer of Florida (since elected
to head the NRA in Washington) about one of the tourist murders in
Florida five years back, and having her point out that the culprit --
a young woman -- had been arrested for being a convicted felon in
possession of an illegal concealed weapon while shoplifting -- as well
as resisting arrest -- only few days before. The authorities let her
out due to a lack of jail space (too many victimless dope smokers
tying up the cells, presumably.)
Similarly, Kip Kinkel was arrested and booked for storing a stolen
gun at school the day before his murder rampage ... but then promptly
released back into his helpless parents' custody. So, it turns out
the NRA's recurrent cry has some specific application: why push for
more gun laws, when the cops aren't able enforce the 20,000 gun laws
already on the books? To outlaw everything has the same effect as to
legalize everything, except that the cops are thus empowered to harass
anyone, any time they want.
The Florida tourist-shooting epidemic is also relevant in another
way. In 1993, as research by Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State
University has shown, Florida crime rates were actually plummeting,
due to new laws which allowed far more law-abiding citizens to carry
concealed weapons. As that beneficial change took place, the only
motorists who criminals could be assured would be unarmed were
newly-arrived tourists driving rental cars with big fluorescent
rent-a-car stickers. Once the airport rental lots started removing
those stickers, Florida's "tourist murder crime wave" disappeared
virtually overnight. Similarly, one of the last places a criminal
knows he can find unarmed victims in an increasingly well-armed and
peaceful America today ... is in the "gun free school zones" in which
the snivelliberals have locked up our children.
Hand Out More Guns
In fact, it turns out that if a solution to schoolyard violence is
needed, experts with some mighty solid credentials propose that the
solution is not to ban guns, but to hand out more:
On Monday, June 1, I published in the Review-Journal an
excellent piece initially prepared for the Los Angeles Times by John
R. Lott, Jr., a fellow at University of Chicago School of Law, and
author of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 1998),
under the headline: "To stop mass shootings, hand out more guns: when
Israel armed teachers, the school shootings ended."
In that essay, Professor Lott writes: "What might appear to be the
most obvious policy may actually cost lives. When gun-control laws
are passed, it is law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, who
adhere to them. Police officers or armed guards cannot be stationed
everywhere, so gun-control laws risk creating situations in which the
good guys cannot defend themselves.
"Other countries have followed a different solution. Twenty or so
years ago in Israel, there were many instances of terrorists pulling
out machine guns and firing away at civilians in public. However,
with expanded concealed-handgun use by Israeli citizens, terrorists
soon found ordinary people pulling pistols on them. Suffice it to
say, terrorists in Israel no longer engage in such public shootings.
"The one recent shooting of schoolchildren in the Middle East
further illustrates these points. On March 13, 1997, seven Israeli
girls were shot to death by a Jordanian soldier while they visited
Jordan's so-called "Island of Peace". The Los Angeles Times reported
that the Israelis had 'complied with Jordanian requests to leave their
weapons behind when they entered the border enclave. Otherwise, they
might have been able to stop the shooting, several parents said.'
"Hardly mentioned in the massive news coverage of the school-
related shootings during the past year is how they ended. Two of the
four shootings were stopped by a citizen displaying a gun. In the
October 1997 shooting spree at a high school in Pearl, MS, which left
two students dead, an assistant principal retrieved a gun from his car
and physically immobilized the shooter while waiting for the police."
That assistant principal had, fortunately for all, violated
federal law by bringing that firearm onto campus, even though he left
it in the glove compartment of his car.
"More recently," Professor Lott continues, "the school-related
shooting in Edinboro, PA, which left one teacher dead, was stopped
only after a bystander pointed a shotgun at the shooter when he
started to reload his gun. The police did not arrive for another 10
minutes. Who knows how many lives were saved by these prompt
Dr. Lott's exhaustive studies of multiple-victim public shootings
in the United States from 1977 to 1995 reveal that "only one policy
was found to reduce deaths and injuries from these shootings:
allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.
"The effect of 'shall-issue' concealed handgun laws, which give
adults the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a
criminal record or a history of significant mental illness, was
dramatic. Thirty-one states now have such laws. When states passed
them during the 19 years we studied, the number of multiple-victim
public shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings
plummeted on average by 90 percent, injuries by 82 percent. ...
"Unfortunately, much of the public policy debate is driven by
lopsided coverage of gun use. Horrific events like the Colin Ferguson
shooting receive massive news coverage, as they should, but the 2.5
million times each year that people use guns defensively -- including
cases in which public shootings are stopped before they happen -- are
ignored ... Without permitting law-abiding citizens the right to carry
guns, we risk leaving victims as sitting ducks."
Sitting ducks like Colin Ferguson's victims on the Long Island
Railroad, that is -- all forbidden by New York law to carry weapons
for their own self-defense.
The gun-grabbers will respond "a resident of the house is more
likely to be injured than an intruder." But only if they cleverly
include suicides in their statistics, of course. Besides, you can
scare away 100 intruders without ever wounding one, just by showing
(or audibly cocking) your weapon. Which makes the minuscule "injury"
statistics a red herring.
Crediting Eddie Eagle
All these statistics can get a little boggling, I know. So let's
take a specific example. The Elko Daily Free Press reports that on
April 7 of this year, an unnamed 15-year-old boy in that northern
Nevada community tried to stop an intruder from beating his mother,
but found he was not strong enough to do so. The lad therefore raced
into his mother's bedroom, retrieving a .22 semiautomatic handgun,
loaded several rounds into the magazine, inserted the magazine into
the weapon, returned, and fired at the assailant three times, hitting
him twice and killing him.
"He is credited with saving the life of his mother, and possibly
the 3-year-old child also present," the newspaper reports. "The mother
suffered a broken cheekbone, a broken nose, several bruises on her
body, and a cut to her forehead from the attack."
"It seems to me to be a fairly clear-cut case of self-defense,"
said D.A. Gary Woodbury, in which case "an inquest is not warranted."
If Mr. Schumer's proposed federal "gun lock" bill had been in
effect -- or even the non-federal version tacitly okayed by Mr.
LaPierre -- the Elko teenager would have done better attempting to
whack his mother's assailant with a fireplace log.
Following the successful Israeli example of arming teachers and
parent volunteers, Georgia state legislator Mitchell Kaye has now
proposed one of the few legislative initiatives likely to directly
address the problem: he wants to authorize and encourage Georgia
teachers to carry concealed weapons at school. "They know that all
the adults in these school gun-free zones are unarmed, and that's the
problem," Kaye told CNN the day after the Oregon shootings.
In a carefully scripted line, the gun-grabbers reply that teachers
"are supposed to educate children, not execute them."
But we don't give weapons to police officers in the hopes they'll
"execute" their suspects, do we? Guns are the great deterrent,
preventing crime by their very presence.
The NRA does do something useful. The victim disarmament gang
whine that the group's "Eddie Eagle" gun safety and training classes
are nothing but "Joe Camel with feathers." But as it turns out, the
parents of the young wrestling team member who finally jumped and
subdued Kip Kinkel, 17-year-old Jacob Ryker, credit his firearms
training with the fact that he was able to detect when Kinkel's .22
rifle was empty, timing his leap when the assailant had to change
Linda Ryker also credited her son's familiarity with firearms for
helping Jacob deal with the crisis, keeping his wits about him even
after he was shot. With his son shot but recovering, Linda's husband
Robert, a Navy diver, proudly wore his National Rifle Association cap
during the family's press conference.
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las
Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at
http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the
United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box
4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.