The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have reenergized the national movement to restrict gun ownership following a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives. Their efforts culminated with the massive March for Our Lives Rally on Saturday in Washington, D.C.
The students from Stoneman Douglas have earned praise for demanding that Congress take decisive action. But they also seem to be stoking irrational fear about gun violence in schools.
You would have come away from the March for Our Lives Rally thinking there's a school shooting epidemic in America. But what happened at Stoneman Douglas was extremely rare. American schools are profoundly safe, and most likely getting safer: According to researchers at Northeastern University, shooting incidents involving students have actually decreased in recent years, and in the 1990s the overall crime rate was much higher than it is today. The rate of homicides from firearms in the U.S. has plummeted. In fact, students are orders of magnitude more likely to die in a car crash on their way to school than they are to be gunned down on school grounds.
Yet the protesters were demanding more security in schools—a lot more—even if it means making armed guards a fixture of the lives of children.
Some kids live in constant fear of being shot in their classrooms. This hysteria is leading to claims that we must relinquish our rights in the name of safety—a familiar story, from the drug war to the war on terror.
Teenagers have every right to fight for a cause they believe in, and the students from Stoneman Douglas are justifiably enraged about an event that claimed the lives of so many friends and classmates. But feelings shouldn't trump facts, and we should never craft policies from a place of fear.
Interviews by Robby Soave. Produced by Mark McDaniel and Alexis Garcia. Camera by Mark McDaniel and Todd Krainin. Edited by Austin Bragg.