The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Listen to the police for common-sense gun reforms

Flowers, messages, balloons, stuffed animals, toys and other items on May 31 were left by mourners commemorating the students and teachers of the Robb Elementary School’s mass shooting in Uvalde, Tex. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)
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Police officer Patrick Skinner’s June 5 Outlook essay, “Our ‘best case scenario’ in school shootings is badly misguided,” correctly pointed out the main cause of murders in the United States is the number of guns on the street. However, he should have added that we have incredibly strong evidence for this: the number of murders in almost every other wealthy developed country.

The gun-homicide rate per 100,000 people in the United States is about four, while for 18 other countries (including Canada, Britain, France and Japan) the number is less than 0.5. For Britain, it’s 0.04!

The big difference is those countries restrict gun ownership and we don’t. This is the statistic gun-safety advocates should focus on because it puts to a lie the need for better mental health care and similar ideas for reducing gun murders.

Of course, if right-wing gun elites want to assert that Americans are just plain crazier than the rest of the world, they should put that on their bumper stickers.

Philip S. Church, Fairfax

Kathleen Parker wrote in her June 5 op-ed, “Yes, it has come to this. It’s time to arm teachers.,” that the combination of “smarts, strict adherence to protocol and training” will enable armed teachers to take on active shooters. She even compared “militarized maniacs” to coyotes, foxes, bobcats and bears, when it comes to defending our children and stopping a killer.

Unfortunately, Ms. Parker had not read the Outlook essay by Patrick Skinner, a police officer, former Capitol Police officer, former CIA operations officer and former member of the Coast Guard. Officer Skinner emphasized that no amount of training can prepare a teacher for an active shooter. He noted that in the dozens of school shootings since Columbine, best practices (run, hide, fight) have failed. He pointed out that even trained “good guys with guns” did not prevent a person with a semiautomatic weapon with high-capacity magazines from killing 19 children and two adults and injuring 17 others.

According to Officer Skinner, more guns never lead to more safety. Bullets couldn’t care less about the intended target. Shootings in classrooms, malls or movies theaters result in much chaos.

He concluded that common-sense gun-safety measures, such as restricting access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition, is a no-brainer, because hoping that police or teachers “will run into a room and shoot a guy who is shooting children ... has never worked and it never will.”

Karen Gibbs, Lusby