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September 6, 2017

Study: Parents Don’t Blame Guns for Rare School Violence


A new study finds that while parents are concerned about the fortunately exceedingly rare cases of firearm-related violence in schools, they do not believe that gun control is the answer.

According to the parents surveyed, the top three major causes of firearm violence are:

  • 73% – “inadequate parental monitoring/rearing practices”
  • 58% – “peer harassment and/or bullying”
  • 54% – “inadequate mental health care services for youth”

This aligns with what other studies have found of the general public. However, that’s where the study’s usefulness ends. The authors make it very clear that they are biased from the very first paragraph, where they assert that firearms “are not adequately regulated.” This obvious bias carries through to the flawed structure of the research. For example, the survey demographics skewed toward white, suburban Democrats, rather than focusing on urban areas, where most gang activity (and criminal misuse of firearms) is concentrated.

The researchers asked respondents about five policy proposals and their perceived efficacy. With their biased starting point, it comes as no surprise that they were mainly asked about gun control policies. Of the five policies they ask about, only one addresses one of the top three issues identified by parents as the cause of firearm violence: increased funding for mental health services. More than half – 57 percent – of respondents said this would be very effective. Another 28 percent said it would be somewhat effective. Compare this to the fact that only three out of 10 respondents thought increased government funding for “firearm prevention research” would be very effective. Despite the flawed research methodology, the authors still couldn’t gather a majority support for banning “the sale of assault weapons” or “the sale of high capacity (>10) ammunition clips.”

Firearms researcher John Lott thoroughly exposes many of the research problems in a worth-the-read article here, so we will set these aside for the moment.

What is important to remember is that firearm incidents of any kind in schools are rare, with less than 9 percent of respondents stating there had been an incident at their child’s school in the last 5 years. These incidents appear to be non-violent in many cases and included: “a bullet was found,” “a girl threatened to shoot herself,” “airsoft gun at school,” “bb gun,” “firearm left in car,” “social media threat,” and “verbal threat.” As the authors assert, the “vast majority (>95%) of firearm homicides and suicides of students occur outside of schools.”

Surely more can be done to make schools even safer, but as parents agree, more gun control is not the answer.

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