Guns in Schools: Gun Control Debate Heats Up in the States

January 31st, 2015 - by admin

Naureen Khan / Al Jazeera America – 2015-01-31 23:47:09

Guns in Schools: Gun Control Debate,
Stalled in DC, Picks Up in the States

Even as gun control slips from federal agenda, advocates say they have scored victories and support at the state level

Naureen Khan / Al Jazeera America

(January 26, 2015) — On January 16, only about 20 minutes apart, shootings marred what would have been otherwise normal Friday evening basketball games at high schools in Mobile, Alabama, and Ocala, Florida. A student was shot and injured in each case; both survived.

They were the 49th and 50th shootings at K–12 schools in the US — calculated by Al Jazeera as incidents in which a gun discharges on school property and a student or teacher is involved but not police — since the December 2012 massacre of 26 children and staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

This is the first in a seven-part series examining the issues surrounding school shootings in the US. The second part looks at the psychological impact defense measures can have on kids.

WASHINGTON (January 26, 2015) — If there was a single sign that the federal push for legislation to tighten gun restrictions has entered the do-not-resuscitate phase of its political life, it may have been President Barack Obama’s conspicuous omission of the topic in his State of the Union address last week.

Even in an address replete with agenda items that most acknowledge have no chance of getting past the Republican-controlled Congress, guns warranted only a vague reference to the president’s grieving with the families of Newtown.

Close watchers of the gun debate in the United States said that gun control’s moment — at least in Washington — has passed.

“President Obama spent all of his chips or made his strongest effort in 2013 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and with the failure of that effort when Congress failed to act — the Senate specifically — there was a sense that he had made his best effort and it wasn’t going to get anywhere,” said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York at Cortland specializing in the politics of gun control. “He’s made a political calculation that it makes more sense to spend his resources on other issues.”

Spitzer said he does not expect guns to be foremost in Americans’ minds or at the top of the public policy agenda in the foreseeable future.

“I think 2015 is likely to be a lull year . . . compared to last year,” he said. “Much of the energy has been spent for the short term, and then we’ll see a gearing up by the gun groups for 2016, the next presidential and congressional races.”

Meanwhile, the drumbeat of gun deaths and mass shootings has continued.

A December report by two gun control advocacy groups, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, counted 99 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre, including shootings at college campuses. In 23 of those incidents there was at least one fatality. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that compiles data on gun violence, there were 12,569 gun deaths in the United States in 2014.

Despite the bleak statistics, advocates for stricter gun regulations see reason for optimism. With Congress paralyzed on the issue, a flurry of activity has taken place at the state level.

States have enacted 242 new firearm laws since Newtown: 99 that strengthened gun laws, 88 that weakened them and 55 that had minimal impact, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a national advocacy group for gun regulations that compiles data on state and federal legislation.

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said she counts significant victories in the last two years that indicates that the grip of the gun lobby, particularly the powerful National Rifle Association, on state and national politics is slowly but surely waning.

In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, vetoed a National Rifle Association-backed bill that would have reversed a blanket restriction that prevents the subjects of any personal protection order from obtaining a concealed pistol license. In Washington state, voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative in November that closed the background-check loophole for gun shows and Internet sales. And in September 2014, California became the first state in the country where family members can ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a danger.

“We’ve been able to kill bad bills, and we’re supporting good,” Watts said. “This is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It’s going to take months and years to undo the damage the NRA has done, both in our state legislatures and on a federal level.”

The NRA did not return requests for comment.

Sarah Trumble, a policy counsel for social policy and politics at Third Way, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., said that for the first time, equally powerful and well-financed groups have arisen to counter the clout of the NRA.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged to give at least $50 million to Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the major groups promoting stricter gun laws. Americans for Responsible Solutions, a super PAC started by former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was critically injured in an Arizona shooting in 2010, raised $21 million in the 2014 cycle, spending $7 million in federal elections in support of candidates in favor of stricter gun laws, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Still, the NRA remains an intimidating foe for gun control advocates. The group spent $27 million supporting and opposing federal candidates in the 2014 election cycle and $3 million on lobbying.

“This is a really interesting time in the movement. What we’re seeing is that the NRA is not the only loud and well-funded voice in the debate. We’re seeing the remnants of their power,” Trumble said. “The balance of power is not all with the NRA.”

Gun safety advocates said they are encouraged by the recent appointment of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, whose confirmation was vehemently opposed by the NRA for his outspoken views about gun safety as a public health issue and was held up for more than a year by conservative senators. Although experts say he cannot substantially change gun regulations, his confirmation as surgeon general is a sign of changing attitudes in government and the populace on gun violence.

“It’s important on a sort of significance level,” Trumble said. “It means a lot that the highest doctor in the land is concerned about it and recognizes it as a public health issue.”

Timeline: School Shootings since Sandy Hook

This timeline includes school shootings at K-12 educational sites involving students or staff as perpetrators or victims since the December 2012 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Incidents in the timeline all involve a gun discharging live ammunition, but those fired by police are not shown. The data for the timeline was primarily drawn from gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, and crosschecked against news reports.

December 14, 2012
Mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Adam Lanza, 20, shoots and kills his mother before driving her car to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., with a rifle, a shotgun, two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. At the school, Lanza uses the rifle to kill 20 first-grade students and six faculty members, including principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, who tried to tackle him. Lanza then injures two more people before turning a handgun on himself as police arrive.

January 10, 2013
Taft Union High School shooting

At Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif., student Bryan Oliver, 16, walks into his classroom and shoots classmate Bowe Cleveland with a .12-gauge shotgun. He shoots at but misses Jacob Nickelst. Teacher Ryan Heber and security officer Kim Fields talk Oliver into surrendering. Cleveland survives, and Heber escapes with minor wounds. Oliver is charged as an adult with two counts of attempted murder and three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.

January 29, 2013
Dale County school bus shooting

Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, boards a school bus in Midland City, Ala., with a gun and orders the driver, Charles Poland Jr., to hand over two children. When Poland refuses, Dykes shoots him five times, killing him. Dykes then abducts 5-year-old Ethan Gilman and holds him hostage in an underground bunker. On Feb. 4, FBI agents raid the bunker, killing Dykes and rescuing Gilman, who is in good health. Authorities credit Poland’s actions with saving more children from being abducted.

January 31, 2013
Price Middle School shooting

After a fight in the school courtyard, an unidentified student at Price Middle School in Atlanta shoots 14-year-old Telvis Douglas in the back of the head with a handgun, giving him a flesh wound. Some witnesses reported that the suspect then fired at fleeing students. A teacher receives minor scuffs and bruises in the resulting chaos, but no one else is hurt. A school resource officer disarms the suspect before arresting him.

February 27, 2013
Grady High School shooting

Morgan Tukes, 17, accidentally shoots herself in the upper leg with a handgun outside Grady High School in Atlanta. After she leaves the hospital, officials charge her with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, reckless conduct, possession of a pistol by a minor and disruption of a public school. Officials do not know why Tukes had the weapon.

April 29, 2013
La Salle High School shooting

During his first-period class at La Salle High School in Cincinnati, 17-year-old honor student Joe Poynter shoots himself in the head with a .45-caliber handgun stolen from his family’s gun safe. Officials say he did not threaten any of the 22 other students in the class. Officials later describe Poynter as “fighting for his life” at UC Medical Center.

May 22, 2013
Britton-Hecla High School shooting

While showing off what he reportedly thought was an unloaded .22-caliber handgun in the parking lot of Britton-Hecla High School in Britton, S.D., 18-year-old Dusty Groom accidentally shoots 17-year-old Brody Heitmann, who suffers a graze wound to his head. School officials expel Groom, and police charge him with reckless discharge of a firearm, possession of a firearm on school property and false reporting to authorities.

May 25, 2013
Redland Middle School shooting

A student at Redland Middle School in Homestead, Fla., outside Miami, suffers a graze wound to his leg when a gun accidentally goes off in another student’s backpack. A third student, 13-year-old Pablo Sanchez, takes off his shirt and holds it over the wound until paramedics arrive. Authorities reportedly interview the student who took the gun to school.

August 20, 2013
Ronald E. McNair DLA Elementary School shooting

Dressed in black, 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill walks into the Ronald E. McNair Discover Learning Academy Elementary School in Decatur, Ga., carrying an AK-47 and a bag of ammunition. After Hill barricades himself in the front office and exchanges fire with police officers outside, school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff talks him into surrendering. No one is injured, and Hill is later charged.

August 30, 2013
Carver High School shooting

After a fire drill at Carver High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., 18-year-old Christopher Lamont Richardson shoots 15-year-old classmate Antwain Deshaun Porter several times with a .38-caliber handgun. A school resource officer disarms Richardson and arrests him. Porter is hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities say the two had a long-running fight. Richardson is later charged on several counts.

October 4, 2013
Agape Christian Academy shooting

During a fight in the parking lot of Agape Christian Academy in Pine Hills, Fla., an unidentified person who is not a student at the school shoots a 16-year-old football player in the hip and wounds a 17-year-old bystander. The suspect is not caught, but both victims are expected to recover.

October 15, 2013
Lanier High School shooting

A 17-year-old student at Lanier High School in Austin, Texas, kills himself with a handgun while sitting alone in a courtyard next to the school cafeteria around 1:30 p.m., according to witnesses. Classmates report the student posted on Facebook a picture of himself holding a gun to his head.

October 21, 2013
Sparks Middle School shooting

An unnamed 12-year-old student opens fire with a .357-caliber handgun outside Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nev. According to witnesses, teacher Michael Landsberry confronts the gunman, who fatally shoots Landsberry before turning the gun on himself. Two other students are injured.

November 13, 2013
Brashear High School shooting

Anjohnito Willet Jr., 16, shoots three classmates as they walk home from Brashear High School in Pittsburgh. One of the victims runs back to the school for help, prompting initial fears of a shooter inside the building. According to police, the shooting was retaliation for a drug-related assault and robbery of Willet on Oct. 18. Doctors expect all the victims to recover.

November 21, 2013
Sophie B. Wright Charter School shooting

Two students — 17-year-old Taykuan Walker and Derrick Noten — are arrested after accidentally firing a .38-caliber handgun inside the band room of Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans. Police find a gun magazine, two casings and a bag of marijuana on the teenagers. One of them apparently took the handgun home before police arrived.

December 1, 2013
Scott High School shooting

A 14-year-old student at Scott High School in Toledo, Ohio, tells a school resource officer he has a gun before flashing a realistic-looking pellet gun. The student surrenders after a standoff during which officers shoot him in the foot with a beanbag round. He suffers only minor injuries.

December 4, 2013
West Orange High School shooting

Jamorian Eddie Patrick Bell, 17, shoots 15-year-old Jerodrick Smith twice during an after-school fight outside West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Fla. A few hours later, police catch Bell about four miles from the school. Smith is last reported in stable condition.

December 13, 2013
Arapahoe High School shooting

Two people are wounded at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., after a student opens fire in the school. Students are dispersed to the athletic fields and a Molotov cocktail is found on the suspect, who died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The school is about 8 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999.

January 9, 2014
Liberty Technology Magnet High School shooting

At Liberty Technology Magnet High School in Jackson, Tenn., an unidentified 16-year-old student shoots a 17-year-old classmate in the leg. Police reportedly capture the suspect at his grandmother’s home shortly after he flees campus. The victim receives treatment at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

January 13, 2014
Hillhouse High School shooting

A 14-year-old student receives gunshot wounds to his hands and leg when shots ring out after a basketball game at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn. Police arrest two adults in connection to the incident.

January 14, 2014
Berrendo Middle School shooting

A 12-year-old student at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M., walks into a gym and opens fire with a sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun as students gather before class. He critically injures two students — Kendal Sanders, 13, and Nathaniel Tavarez, 11 — before social studies teacher John Masterson and state police officer Lt. Gary Smith convince him to surrender. The shooter is sentenced to state custody until he turns 21.

January 15, 2014
King Elementary School shooting

Police shut down King Elementary School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after a woman reports seeing two men fire a handgun on the school playground and then flee the scene. Officers reportedly find a spent shell casing on the playground, but no students are outside during the incident, and no one is harmed.

January 17, 2014
Delaware Valley Charter High School shooting

Two 15-year-old students at Delaware Valley Charter High School in Philadelphia, Pa., are shot in the arm when a gun goes off in the school gymnasium. Police seek three students in connection with the incident but tell USA Today that they do not know whether the shooting was intentional.

January 27, 2014
Rebound High School shooting

Omari A. Tinsley, 18, allegedly shoots the father of a student at Rebound High School in Carbondale, Ill., during an argument in the school parking lot. Police report that the injuries are life-threatening. They also arrest another 17-year-old student.

January 31, 2014
Cesar Chavez High School shooting

Off-duty police officers working a large basketball game at Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix, Ariz., hear 10 to 15 shots in the school courtyard midgame, sparking chaos. Police later tell a local ABC affiliate that the lack of property damage from the shooting leads them to believe that someone was firing into the air.

January 31, 2014
North High School shooting

After a basketball game at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, six men in a black Jeep fire several shots into the school parking lot, grazing a 15-year-old girl. According to news reports, the men argued with the girl earlier that night. No one else is injured in the shooting.

February 7, 2014
Bend High School shooting

A student commits suicide with a gun in a modular classroom at Bend High School in Bend, Ore., while other students are present, prompting a two-hour school lockdown. Authorities do not release the student’s name, age or gender, and no additional details are available.

February 10, 2014
Salisbury High School shooting

Dajuan Russel, 17, allegedly shoots classmate Shaleek Williams in the stomach outside the gym at Salisbury High School in Salisbury, N.C., as Williams tries to break up a fight. Police reportedly arrest at least two individuals in connection with the shooting.

February 11, 2014
Brush High School shooting

Several shots are fired in the parking lot of Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio, during a basketball game. After the incident, police take into custody two 17-year-old boys who do not attend the school. No one is injured.

March 7, 2014
Madison Parish High School shooting

During a fight at a fundraising dance at Madison Parish High School in Tallulah, La., Levecion Williams, 17, allegedly shoots a 16-year-old classmate, grazing him in the arm. Police charge Williams with attempted second-degree murder.

March 25, 2014
Banneker High School shooting

An unidentified student fires multiple shots into the air during an argument in the parking lot of Banneker High School in Union City, Ga. Police arrest at least four people in connection with the shooting.

April 11, 2014
East English Village Preparatory Academy shooting

A drive-by shooting into a crowd of about 100 people in the parking lot of East English Village Preparatory Academy in Detroit kills 19-year-old Darryl Smith, who was at the school for an event. Police seek two suspects in connection with the shooting.

April 21, 2014
Provo High School shooting

A 14-year-old boy sustains minor mouth injuries while attempting suicide with a .22-caliber handgun behind a secondary building at Provo High School in Provo, Utah. The boy, who was alone during the incident, then calls 911 for medical attention.

May 3, 2014
Horizon Elementary School shooting

An argument between two groups of teenagers on the basketball court at Horizon Elementary School in Everett, Wash., leaves one of the teenagers shot. The rest quickly scatter, with police reportedly using a helicopter and a K-9 unit to track them down.

June 10, 2014
Reynolds High School shooting

After riding the bus to Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore., carrying an AR-15-type rifle, a semiautomatic handgun, nine magazines of ammunition, a knife and tactical gear, 15-year-old Jared Padgett allegedly kills classmate Emilio Hoffman, 15, and wounds teacher Todd Rispler before exchanging fire with police then taking his own life.

June 23, 2014
Kelly High School shooting

Kaden Robert, 15, dies in a friend’s pickup truck in the parking lot of Kelly High School in Benton, Mo., after a handgun in the truck accidentally discharges, according to police and witnesses. The friends had just finished a basketball game and were reportedly on their way to Robert’s house.

August 14, 2014
Saunders Elementary School shooting

David Hosley, 17, allegedly shoots teenagers Bryant Wilder Jr. and John Nieves Jr. with a 12-gauge shotgun, killing both. The attack takes place in the parking lot of Saunders Elementary School in Newport News, Va., in the early hours of the morning. Hosley wounds an unidentified third victim, who then phones police.

September 9, 2014
Stellar Leadership Academy shooting

A shooting during a fight in the parking lot of Stellar Leadership Academy in Miami-Dade County, Fla., leaves five students in custody and one in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

September 10, 2014
Greenwood Lakes Middle School shooting

Lamar Jazz Hawkins III shoots and kills himself in a restroom at Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Lake Mary, Fla.

September 11, 2014
Westbrook Elementary School shooting

A concealed handgun carried by sixth-grade teacher Michelle Ferguson-Montgomery accidentally discharges while she is using the restroom before the start of the school day, hitting her in the leg. The teacher, a 14-year veteran of Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville, Utah, has a concealed-carry permit and is allowed to have the gun on school property under state law.

September 24, 2014
Joel C. Harris Academy shooting

A .22-caliber handgun hidden in a 12-year-old boy’s backpack accidentally discharges when the boy sets the bag down, prompting Joel C. Harris Academy in San Antonio, Texas, to go on lockdown. According to police, another student, 14, asked the 12-year-old to keep the gun for him. Police later determine that the gun is loaded with blanks, not live rounds, and no one is injured.

September 30, 2014
Albemarle High School shooting

Jalen Russell, 15, turns himself in to the principal after allegedly shooting 17-year-old classmate Bernard Miller twice in the leg during an argument before class at Albemarle High School in Albemarle, N.C.

September 30, 2014
Fern Creek High School shooting

Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Ky., goes on lockdown after an unidentified 16-year-old student shoots a 15-year-old classmate twice, sending the victim to surgery. Police arrest the suspect three hours later at a nearby apartment complex.

October 3, 2014
Langston Hughes High School shooting

Eric Dana Johnson Jr., 18, allegedly shoots and kills 17-year-old Kristofer Hunter after a football game at Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Ga. Police later issue a warrant for Johnson, who attends another high school.

October 21, 2014
A. Maceo Walker Middle School shooting

While showing friends a handgun in his backpack between classes, a 13-year-old student at A. Maceo Walker Middle School in Memphis, Tenn., accidentally drops his bag, discharging the gun and shooting himself in the leg. No one else is injured.

October 24, 2014
Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting

Jaylen Fryberg, 15, sends text messages to several friends asking them to meet him for lunch in the school cafeteria, where he allegedly opens fire on them with a .40-caliber Beretta handgun before taking his own life. Four of the victims die as a result of their wounds. A fifth recovers after time in intensive care.

December 17, 2014
Lee High School shooting

A 10th-grade boy at Lee High School in Wyoming, Mich., is shot in the leg leaving the school gymnasium after basketball practice. Police do not have any immediate suspects.

January 8, 2015
Beaver High School shooting

School officials and police find an unidentified teenage girl lying dead next to a gun in a bathroom at Beaver High School in Beaver, Utah. According to media reports, officials suspect suicide.

January 15, 2015
Wisconsin Lutheran High School shooting

During a basketball game at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, Wis., a teacher and a 15-year-old boy who is visiting from another school are injured when shots are fired.

January 16, 2015
Williamson High School shooting

One person is injured when a shot is fired during a fight after a basketball game at Williamson High School in Mobile, Ala

January 16, 2015
Vanguard High School shooting

Shots are fired during an argument around 9:35 p.m. in the parking lot of Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla., after a basketball game. A 14-year-old student and a 19-year-old woman sustain non-life-threatening injuries.

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