A reminder of what Rep. Massie looks like around the holidays.
During the session, Rep. Massie pushed for a repeal of the 1990 Gun-Free School Zone Act, saying that some localities have been able to subvert the act and arm teachers on school campuses. In schools with armed educators, Massie claims, “There hasn’t been a single mass shooting in one of those schools. There hasn’t been a single shooting of one person in one of those schools.”
A pretty strong claim that ended with Massie’s real intention to gum up any progress on gun reform legislation: “The biggest thing we can do here today is repeal the 1990 Gun-Free School Zone Act so that the default condition in this country is not to advertise every student as a target.”
It’s hogwash by the way. This idea that gun-free zones “invite” armed assault is based on the frequently debunked claims of researcher John Lott, who claimed that 98% or more of mass shootings from 1950 to the present occurred in “gun-free zones.” Lott’s claim, presented with massive failures in his criteria and founded on incorrect and inaccurate data, was in service of his assertion—espoused subsequently by NRA mouthpieces like Donald Trump and the entire GOP—that mass shooters target “gun-free zones” because gunmen are unlikely to face armed resistance if they attack there.
There were a few issues with Lott’s “research” when he first made that claim, and his Crime Prevention Research Center has continued to finesse and update these misleading claims over the years; the information being used by people like Trump and Massie came out in the group’s 2014 report. Of course, it’s easy to make false claims when you have a GOP willing to scuttle any broad-reaching research into studying gun violence over the last few decades.
One of the first issues with Lott’s research was his definitions of mass shootings. For example, during the period from 1977 to 1997, Lott counted “each individual death in mass shootings as an entire mass shooting.”
For example, Lott’s own spreadsheet indicates that 14 mass shootings (defined by him as four or more people killed) occurred in Oklahoma in 1986. Yet there weren’t 14 mass shootings in Oklahoma that year. There was one in which 14 people were killed (excluding the shooter).
Lott’s error, which exaggerates the number of mass shootings between 1977 and 1997, disproves his claim that only 2% of mass shootings occur in places where firearms are allowed.
He has subsequently “revised” his findings, but still comes up with an outrageous number that continues to include mixed definitions, meaning he has no consistent methodology other than accepting gun lobbyists’ money in exchange for research they like. As the Washington Post points out, Lott’s definition of “gun-free zones” includes places like the White House simply because they don’t allow every Tom, Dick, and Harry who goes on a tour to carry a gun. At the same time, Lott gives out broad definitions for mass shootings that over-inflate where those shootings are taking place.
Everytown reported 16 mass shootings in gun-free zones between 2009 and 2016; Lott reported 24. This is clearly attributed to the difference in definitions. Everytown defines gun-free zones as “areas where civilians are prohibited from carrying firearms and there is not a regular armed law enforcement presence.”
A broad example of what constitutes a “mass shooting” connected to a pointless definition of what constitutes a “gun-free” space gives Lott and the NRA their overinflated and misleading numbers. It isn’t a new thing: One week after young children were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre spoke at a press conference and blamed gun-free schools and the politicians that have pushed for them.
“The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
As we have seen in Uvalde, Texas, you can have lots of supposedly well-trained firearms experts on the scene, and still, 19 children and two adults can be easily murdered with a high-powered weapon, wielded legally by a teenager with thousands of legally purchased bullets.
It was shortly after those LaPierre statements above that he and his family literally got aboard a yacht named “Illusions” to take a break and hide away from Americans demanding justice for dead children. LaPierre and Massie can take all of the gun lobby money and live on all of the luxury yachts provided to them by their masters of war; it won’t wash away the blood that remains on their hands. That’s a spectral stain that will last. And should last.