The Santa Cruz Sentinel on how to end the pandemic of school gun violence:
Another day, another mass shooting.
Another school shooting, this one at Michigan State University, which killed three students and wounded five others and came almost five years to the day since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High massacre in Parkland, Fla.
And while the victims and those who escaped another senseless spasm of violence from a disturbed shooter might have been older, the parade of grieving parents and friends, bewildered family, and feckless local laws were all too familiar.
Consider that the number of children in the U.S. who have endured a shooting at a K-12 school since 1999 has continued to climb, to a staggering 338,000. This figure is according to a database developed by Washington Post reporters Steven Rich and John Woodrow Cox over the five years since Parkland.
Each shooting has become synonymous with its death toll. At Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., it was 13. At Marjory Stoneman Douglas: 17. At Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas: 21. At Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.: 26. And so many who lived through shootings will endure the trauma for the rest of their lives.
Despite so many school murders over the past two decades, 2022 was the worst year of school shootings in history. Encompassing 46 acts of violence during school hours, 34 students and adults died while more than 43,000 children were exposed to gunfire at the places they go to learn and grow, according to Rich and Cox, who also note that gun violence soared during the pandemic.
In a country where gun violence is the leading cause of death for kids and teens, millions of children must walk through metal detectors or run through active-shooter drills meant to prepare them for the threat of mass murder.
Rich and Cox also say that contrary to popular belief that shooters are mostly white, angry, having been bullied and heavily armed, there is no archetype. After assessing 300-plus shooters, they found the three youngest were 6 years old (including the child accused last month In Virginia of firing a bullet at a teacher), and the oldest, 74.
Many shooters do share similar attributes, though. Most are male. The median age is 16. The overwhelming majority show no signs of debilitating mental illness, such as psychosis or schizophrenia.
The worst incidents, according to the reports, were mostly carried out with semiautomatic rifles or shotguns, but a single handgun was the weapon of choice 80% of the time. In 86% of the cases examined, the children found the guns in the homes of their friends, relatives or parents. There are hundreds of millions of privately owned weapons in the U.S. and if a would-be shooter wants a gun, they can usually find one somewhere.
Amid the carnage — and this includes California workplace shootings such as Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park — new calls for legislation are sounded.
Until this past summer, when Congress passed a gun-safety bill for the first time in decades, federal lawmakers had done virtually nothing to address the problem.
But the shootings continue.
No single solution will end the violence. But much still can be done.
Lacking any current means to keep guns away from potential shooters, a few measures should be mandatory: Every school should be able to quickly lock its doors, a basic security function many campuses still lack.
People who have heard shooters talk about their plans need to immediately alert authorities.
Better background checks to waiting periods before purchase to red-flag laws, and programs such as government gun buybacks and gun licensing are essential, as is prosecuting dealers who allow their supply to flow to illegal markets.
This is a pandemic of violence and it's long past urgent for all states and the federal government to treat it as such.