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These 2 Charts Suggest Access to Guns Can’t Be Driving School Shootings

School shootings in the U.S. have spiked in recent years despite a long-term decline in the rate of gun ownership.

SO WHAT

Americans own guns at unusually high rates compared to the rest of the world, but that isn’t a new phenomenon.

THE TREND

As pro-gun control advocates often point out, America is the only country in the world where civilian firearms outnumber people.

(SOURCE: The Violence Policy Center/National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago)

However, multiple studies have documented a years-long decline in the rate of U.S. household gun ownership.

  • In a 2020 report, the Violence Policy Center, citing General Social Survey data gathered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, found that about 50% of households had guns in the 1970s compared to just over 30% in 2018.
  • A surge in firearms sales during the COVID-19 pandemic saw the number rise to 39% last year, The New York Times reported, citing data from the Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

THE SPIKE

According to data from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School, U.S. school shootings increased dramatically in the 2010s.

 

Last year saw an all-time record 42 acts of gun violence on K-12 school campuses, according to a Washington Post database.

CASE IN POINT

Since 1970, California has experienced more school shootings, 214, than any other state, per Center for Homeland Defense and Security data.

  • During roughly the same time frame, 1980 to 2016, California’s household gun ownership rate fell from 39% to 16%, according to a Rand Corporation analysis.

THE NARRATIVE

Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has reignited fierce debate over why America is cursed with so many such tragedies, and how to prevent them.

Gun control advocates have faulted America’s relatively lax gun laws and robust gun culture.

  • “America does not have more mental illness than other countries. We have more guns and a sick gun culture. That’s it. We can do something about it,” progressive journalist David Atkins tweeted Wednesday.
  • But gun rights advocates have pointed to other factors, like social decay, a mental health crisis and law enforcement failures.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday: “The ability of an 18-year-old to buy a long gun has been in place in the state of Texas for more than 60 years, and think about during the time over the course of that 60 years, we have not had episodes like this, and why is it that for the majority of those 60 years we did not have school shootings and why is it that we do now?”

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