From 1900 to the late 1990’s, there were no mass shootings in schools. Lest it be thought that guns were uncommon in schools, that was not the case. Guns were commonly brought to school for shooting competitions, hunting after school, for teachers to trade or show to each other or their students, or for show and tell. Guns were even made in shop class under the supervision of the shop teacher. Guns were common in gun racks in pickup trucks in the school parking lot. Even today, many schools provide special dispensation for students to take off from school for deer hunting season.
During the height of gun control fever during the first Bush Presidency, the Congress passed the Gun Free School Zones act of 1990. It was designed to make it impossible for ordinary people to carry guns most places, because it forbid the carrying of guns within a thousand feet of a school. If you overlap the 1000 foot gun free zones that surround schools in most cities and towns, no one can go about their daily business without intersecting one of these zones at some time.
The Gun Free School Zone act was quickly challenged in the courts, and found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court under the interstate commerce clause, in U.S. v. Lopez, 1995. The reasoning was simple: If merely possessing a gun within a thousand feet of a school was interstate commerce, and therefore subject to federal regulation, what could possibly be construed as not interstate commerce? Virtually everything would then be controlled by the federal government. As the Constitution means something, the interstate commerce clause must mean something. If all of life can be controlled by the federal government, the clause means nothing.
President Clinton blew a gasket when the Gun Free School Zone act was found unconstitutional. He fiercely lobbied congress to pass a replica act, slightly modified. He threatened to keep congress from adjourning to go home to run for office if they did not pass the replica act. They passed the new Gun Free School Zone act in 1996. Since then, federal prosecutors have been very careful not to prosecute many cases under the act, not wanting to present the Supreme Court with another test case.
The results of the Gun Free School Zone act’s passage have been devastating. The first mass shooting in a school since before 1900 occurred in 1997. As prominent researcher John Lott has noted, mass shooters are attracted to defenseless victim zones. While zones that ban armed citizens are a tiny percentage of the nation’s area, according to Lott, only one of the “successful” (four or more victims) mass shootings in the past thirty years occurred outside of a defenseless victim zone (gun free zone).
Why do mass shooters chose defenseless victim zones? Because they want the fame that goes with the media attention that a mass killer gets, and to get the attention, they have to kill a lot of people. If they are stopped by an armed citizen, they lose their chance to make the “record books”, and there is no point in mass killing.
Armed citizens stop about one in ten of mass killings before they become “successful”, but they are rarely mentioned because of this fact. Most of these life saving actions occur outside of defenseless victim zones.
We have a real world counterexample to the Gun Free School Zone act in Israel. Israelis were confronted with a similar problem after the Maalot massacre in the 1970s They responded by allowing teachers, responsible older students, and volunteer parents to be armed in their schools. They have not had a child shot in a school since.
Since the Gun Free School Zone act was passed for the second time in 1996, 13 mass school shootings have occurred. This unconstitutional law has been a disaster and should be repealed.
Note: The Frontier Middle School shooting, which happened in 1996, does not make most lists of mass school shootings becaue only three people were killed before the shooter was subdued by gym coach Jon Lane. It occured in the breif period after the 1990 law was struck down by the Supreme Court and before the 1996 Gun Free School Zone Act was passed.
Update: Ever wonder why we have these insane zero tolerance policies about guns in schools? You know, where an eagle scout and honor student has his life ruined because he tried to do the right thing?
The 1996 Gun Free School Zone act is the reason. If schools do not implement "zero tolerance" policies, they lose federal funding, so school administrators are scared to death of being accused of not following the insane "zero tolerance" rules. Just another cut at cultural genocide of the gun culture (a fair proxy for Western Civilization) by the left.