A recent bill sent from the Michigan House of Representatives to the Governor would make it easier to carry a concealed weapon in a school. After Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger said the policy could have been "the difference between life and death for many innocent bystanders."
Is he right? Will allowing guns in schools make those schools safer? It hasn't helped much in homes or on the street, researchers say, and evidence suggests that access to guns could actually exacerbate violence.
A 2009 University of Pennsylvania study financed by the National Institutes of Health looked at the chances of being shot when holding a gun versus not holding a gun. In Pennsylvania, from 2003 to 2006, police sent the epidemiological researchers reports of gun-related assaults soon after they happened. A research firm then matched those victims with similar people in the area who did not own guns through phone surveys conducted by random-digit dialing. (This is the same sort of research setup that goes into studying the link between drunk driving and car crashes or smoking and lung cancer.) With both a gun-owning victim and a non-gun-owning Philadelphian, researchers had a variable and a control group. Then by comparing those who were shot and had a gun on them with the control group, the researchers looked for a correlation--and found one. In the study, someone in possession of a gun was about 4.5 times more likely to be shot. If the victim had a chance to resist, he or she was 5.5 times more likely to be shot.
Even more interesting is what the research didn't find. "There was an expectation that we should surely find a protective value," the study's lead researcher Charles Branas, of the University of Pennsylvania, says. But having a gun, he says, "on average was found not to be protective in assaults." This is the conclusion written in the study: "Although successful defensive gun uses can and do occur, the findings of this study do not support the perception that such successes are likely."
Branas says there are a few possible reasons why they saw the increased risk among those with guns: For one, people might enter an environment they'd normally avoid. A conflict might also escalate when a gun was involved. Finally, and most unlikely, someone could have the gun taken from him or her and be shot with it.
Other studies support the notion that guns and personal safety do not go hand in hand, especially with guns in the home. The Harvard School of Public Health's David Hemenway published a study in 2011 and concluded that the chances of violence occurring in the home were increased when a gun was around. "On the benefit side, there are fewer studies, and there is no credible evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in," Branas says.
These studies don't zero in on school shootings, obviously. But it's not hard to see how the same conclusion might apply: having guns around is unlikely to swing a shooting toward a better outcome.
The problem with this study, and with gun ownership in general, is that it includes anyone who owned a gun. It groups a well-trained and well-practiced gun user with someone who is fooling around with a gun they inherited from their grandparents.
Possessing a gun can be effective at stopping a crime. But in order to have it when and where you need it, you have to carry it around with you all the time. Proper training and practice is absolutely necessary to prevent other problems from arising while carrying your gun around with you all the time.
This sort of training and ethical instruction in gun use should be required of all gun owners, but in order to accomplish that the 2nd Amendment of the U.S.Constitution would have to be changed.
Here Pop-sci goes again, no science just political hack's.
Instead of putting guns in schools why not put TASERS in school with long range TASERS capable of incapacitating a shooter? That wont' make things more dangerous for the public at large as that won't kill and can't be used itself as a weapon of mass destruction in a small environment such as a classroom--or theater.
What we need are more TASERS in the hands of those who can stop these nut cases. If just one non-uniform person was in each theater room on a random bases-just like we have those on air plane flights--or one non-uniform person equipped with a TASER in schools--or multiple TASERS available to principals, certain 'trained teachers', etc it could stop some of the carnage.
To say nothing of the people caught in the crossfire. Which has been my biggest issue with the "If the victims had been armed," arguments I've heard.
I also just don't want to live in a world where people carry guns to protect themselves from people with guns. I don't want children growing up in that world. The research seems pretty clear, it's just some people are too stubborn to accept it.
@HBillyRufus, the reason this study works is that it's looking at a sample of gun owners. The people who actually own guns: Not all of them are trained, not all of them are practiced. Simply possessing a gun will not make you safer, but a lot of people aren't willing to put in the time to figure it out. Which is why, as you say, the second amendment needs to be amended to require training.
@Gman46, they cited two studies which contradict a comment a political figure made. That's combining science and journalism, which is what PopSci does. If you don't like it, you're reading the wrong magazine.
Rather than spending money on training the populations, it should be spent on paying off debt and healthcare reforms. Also, no matter how well trained you are, a small brawl can lead to mood swings resulting into street violence. At this rate streets of Baghdad will be safer than Baltimore.
Teachers should not have to bear that kind of responsibility. Taking someones life regardless of the situation is not easy to live with. Giving guns to teachers would open up a whole other can of worms. Give them tasers, pepper spray and some classes on what to do during these types of situations. Hire security guards and let the teachers do their jobs.
I have already read on CNN about some suggestions of arming teachers only after the have had considerable training and they would be required to use "breakable" ammunition to prevent ricochets. As far as having your gun taken and being shot with it, we already have the technology to make guns that only fire for the owner. Such as guns that only fire when they in close proximity to a wristwatch or other control mechanism. Smart guns.
This study ignores a very big glaring hole in it's logic; mass shootings are not the same as other gun violence. The study directly states its findings are based on the ability of the person to fight back or resist, implying the scenario is a robbery or other situation where they are being held at gun point and the gunmen has another agenda other than to kill. Mass shootings have one clear agenda: KILL AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. Their finding does not correlate to this scenario at all, and I believe a persons chances of survival may go up if they or someone in the vicinity were armed as well. Otherwise, their chances are exactly the same as without a gun.
This is a SCIENCE based publication? Stop being political and stick to what you are good at. I served in the military and have owned guns for years and I'm not very pleased with you taking this view on a science based publication? I don't care what your views are on anything but science. It is my right to have guns and I will use them to protect my family. Also it is not the gun that is the killer, it is the crazy man who decides to use the gun to kill people. What many people don't understand is that a crazy man doesn't need a gun to kill. They only need the will to kill. Take away the gun and he will find away with another tool. Think what you will on the subject but please stop posting political and unscientific crap like this. It only makes you look less credible to the scientific community.
I'm not sure I'd favor arming teachers (certainly not students), though I do think that having a well-trained and well-paid armed guard in a security room (where he can monitor cameras in halls and outside for suspicious activity, call in emergencies immediately, and respond quickly to a shooter) might not be a bad idea. We often protect our money or our other possessions with armed guards. Aren't our children our most valuable possession? At least for most parents.
Also, I'm not sure I agree that having fewer guns makes people safer. Get a list of states ordered by guns per capita and put it next to a list of states ordered by gun murders per capita. You'll notice right away that virtually all the states with the most guns per capita are also the states with the lowest gun murders per capita. How could this be? Maybe it has more to do with something else in our society than guns.
If we're going to look at this "scientifically" then we're going to have to look at a whole lot more variables than most of us are really prepared to look at.
I don't think they are going to force teachers to carry guns. The current system in TX which ssilletti aluded to has teachers that volunteer, are approved by the school board, back groudn checked, and trained extensively.
here! here! They actaully make shotgun deployable tasers. Long ranger perfect i like it.
Meh, its not opinions they are stating a study, a scientific study, now if it was just an article not citing anythign reliable or anything at all and interjecting opinion everywhere like that wolf article i could agree with ya.
I think proper gun training is important for our society, especially if we were to go for more open carry. Now, how about we have mandatory gun classes in High Schools where we teach proper gun safety. Possibly even introduce it earlier.
The University of Pennsylvania study included only citizens of Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the US. Here is a quote from the study itself:
"However, compared with control participants, shooting case participants were significantly more often Hispanic, more frequently working in high-risk occupations1,2, less educated, and had a greater frequency of prior arrest. At the time of shooting, case participants were also significantly more often involved with alcohol and drugs, outdoors, and closer to areas where more Blacks, Hispanics, and unemployed individuals resided. Case participants were also more likely to be located in areas with less income and more illicit drug trafficking"
So the study participants were more often drug dealers, drug users, drunks, gang bangers, and ex-cons. So, if you are one of the above, this study suggests it is not a good idea to pack heat while in a bad neighborhood. For the rest of us, this study is rather useless.
I have a son in first grade, so I've thought of this a lot the last few days. Until someone can prove to me it is more effective to have a teacher throw their body in front of my son to protect him as opposed to having the teacher with even a small bit of training pull the trigger of a pocket pistol to protect my son - I think this whole discussion is based on farce and doomed by politics. Articles like this are designed to convince people that guns are evil, need to be regulated, and can't possibly be the solution to any civilized problem.
It would be great if we could have armed security, high walls, security checkpoints, secure lockdowns, etc. but we all know that isn't going to happen because we as a nation are broke. I have to sell pizzas for my son's class so he can have writing materials! Even if we somehow agreed to tax ourselves more to pay for these things, it would take years for them to be implemented.
Allowing trained, competent teachers to exercise their right to protect themselves and my son through the use of a firearm costs schools absolutely nothing, can be implemented immediately, and even if no teachers decide to carry a weapon, it will put these criminals on notice that schools aren't necessary the undefended target rich environment they are today. Other than base fear perpetrated by the media that gun owners are all like Yosemite Sam, there is no practical reason this solution can't work. Teachers can be both armed responsible citizens and teachers - they aren't mutually exclusive.
Does carrying a gun make you or the public safer, or more at risk?
Lets ask a police officer and a soldier what they think and just go with their expert opinion.
Training? Sure! I have no problem with that. Anything so I don't have to be a sitting duck!
Gun laws will never prevent criminals from getting guns, and what do I care if the guy goes to jail after I've been murdered to death?
I rather have a fighting chance please.
Most of my kids' teachers are morons. They were C students in school. They aren't the well coordinated, athletic, alpha type that suits the security sector. The thought of those idiots with firearms is terrifying. My sons' school has external cameras, metal detectors, locked doors that have to be buzzed from the inside office behind bullet proof glass, that houses an armed police officer. You have to be registered and show ID just to sit in the waiting area. That's not even inside the big doors, which are also buzzed unlocked after everything else.
Guns are not the issue here. School security is, or the lack thereof. I will steal a quote here because someone already said it best "I can't walk into a prison and shoot a criminal, so a criminal shouldn't be able to walk into a school and shoot my kid."
It takes a few minutes for the kids to get through the line and they have to put belts back on inside. SO WHAT! We do it at the airport and all stadium events. That's worth lives. THAT IS WORTH LIVES.
As much as I don't believe that just anyone should be allowed to carry a gun onto a school, pheonixamaranth above is right. This study's data isn't applicable to this kind of gun violence.
One of the conclusions drawn though is that your own chances of being shot while holding a weapon do go up, especially if your with people who are not carrying weapons. If an untrained person, like a teacher is carrying a weapon they're as likely to hurt themselves or a child as they are to stop the shooter. A trained security officer is the only person who should be carrying a weapon around children.
While weapons proliferation may stop mass shootings sooner, I believe it will increase the number of individual shootings. I personally do not want to see a study performed that checks whether the number of people are killed in either scenario.
You wouldn't have to even fight off a mass killer if they didn't have as easy access to guns. I'm all for police or security at schools, because our children are valuable, but better gun control should be part of the equation as well.
I suppose this is a popular topic on people’s minds, but if I try to imagine combining two words, ummmmm, say
"Popular & Science" putting the two concepts tied together, I am left mystified...
Popular Science has degraded into Popular Media Sensations....at least the new title PMS fits.....
I have the same opinion that this study does not really doesn't distinguish between an individual who has taken the time to get the necessary training and practice to properly handle a firearm and a person who person who goes out and buys a gun without bothering to learn how to use it. Of course owning a gun simply in itself does not make you more safe. As with owning any tool you have to develop the necessary skills to be effective with it. And as it has already been stated this study has nothing to do with situations where a mad man walks into a area with a crowd and just starts blowing people away.
Arming teaches would trade one fragile situation for another. It would allow teachers to defend themselves against these horrific events but it also opens the door to many inconceivable possibilities. Students attack teachers every day in this country, now imagine if even half the teachers were carrying guns. It creates the opportunity for smaller but still horrible events. Our goal as a society should be to limit our fragility not increase it. Not the best but a better alternative would be a Taser gun model over a firearm. Though this still could cause problems, it would be very effective against an armed intruder.
Teachers with guns...this is assuming that all teachers are sane and won't actually be shooting students who "misbehave."
Good luck with that.
"We Entertain When It Rains"
I live in Canada, which is basically the most similar country to the U.S. Here, guns are banned and we have free so-called "socialist" health care. Our gun casualties are a fraction of the U.S.A's. Therefore, it's either the gun restrictions or the health care (or both) that's preventing gun-related deaths.
We do have the occassional mass shooting, but theren't aren't many casualties (during the last mass shooting, a lot of people were injured but there were only two deaths). No offense to anyone, but the American "obsession" with guns has always puzzled us Canadians.
Anyone educated in science knows that you need to absolutely isolate every variable, which is not done by this study.
It seems almost rational that an armed robber confronted by an armed victim would be more likely to react in a more aggressive manner. If the choices are: shoot and run, get shot, or give up and go to jail; shoot and run would be in the robber's best interest and would harbor the greatest chance of escape. Thus, an armed victim would be more likely to be shot.
However, if the victim is defending others, as in an armed office secretary defending a school of children, the secretary may stand a higher chance of being shot, but what about the children? Does the fact that the "criminal" was met with an aggressive means of defense, detour the shooter from continuing an attack?
Though the chances of being shot increase with gun ownership, this second variable needs to be investigated before any conclusions can be drawn. I would anticipate the number of deaths per assault would decrease as the number of victims increases when at least one victim is armed, though the armed victim would stand a higher chance of being shot.
Police often train with paint bullets. It would be interesting to see two groups square off. A moderately trained shooter vs minimally trained teachers. The shooter tries to shoot as many simulated children before they are shot. Teachers try to save the children or try to kill the shooter. Only a few of the teachers would actually be armed. The number of guns given to the teachers would change from test to test.
The goal would be to see how the number of armed teachers affects the number of children killed.
You could also change the layout of the school and see how this can effect total casualties.
Not a bad idea. Add in a police response to see if the teachers could minimize casualties until police arrive.
"No offense to anyone, but the American "obsession" with guns has always puzzled us Canadians."
As a former Canadian, yes what Canadians need to do before they say anything is to come here and actually learn why guns are important. Beats talking about something you don't understand.
We are great grandsons of cowboys Holmes. Violence, war and weapon tech propelled us to damn near take over the world. We are still on the grind dude. THE ONLY REASON CANADA SPEAKS FRENCH OR ENGLISH is because we slapped a condom twice the size of Texas called Alaska on Russia and protected your ass comrade. We are gun loving assholes. Your freedom and prosperity depend on us dude. You can't defend yourself from a Russian invasion. Imagine what would happen if the Chinese got a military foot in your door. U.S.A. guns to the rescue.
If you don't understand our obsession with securing our ass and yours eh, fu lil brother...