The lack of a ban on assault weapons is the reason for continued shootings

Eamon Carew, Editor-in-Chief

“You guys want to ban books–dead kids can’t read,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz, following a March school shooting in Nashville. His attack was targeted at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republican members of the House Oversight Committee. Many GOP members in local, state and federal legislatures have proposed measures, with shades of fascism, to ban books in schools that contain sexual material, LGBTQ content or gender identity.

It’s not surprising that, when faced with the choice of children being shot or being exposed to the reality that transgender people exist, many Republicans choose the former. So it isn’t much of a shock that the focus in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting was not on the victims but rather on the shooter’s gender identity.

Republicans across all levels of government have latched onto the culture war that is gender identity and trans rights, leading to numerous pieces of legislation, both proposed and passed, in states with Republican legislatures. Most recently being book restrictions and education centered reforms. This anti-LGBTQ legislation can also be seen through Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill and more openly fascist propositions of healthcare and privacy restrictions on transgender children.

The shooter’s gender identity is not relevant to the overarching issue, and politicians focused on the identity of mass shooters as an effective response are completely ineffective. All of this has distracted from the larger issue: taking action towards substantial and effective gun reform.

The most effective form of gun control is obvious, the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. The data is conclusive and shows that the gun control bill passed by president Bill Clinton in 1994 was effective in preventing mass shootings. Mass shootings were on the rise before the passage of this bill, which reduced mass shootings significantly. According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, during the ten year span the ban was in place, mass shootings fell by 37%. What is even more telling, however, is the 183% increase in mass shootings immediately following the bill’s expiration in 2004. The annual average number of deaths due to mass shootings following the expiration was also five times higher than during the assault weapons ban.

Other proposed solutions have been far less effective and merely serve as a band aid on a bullet hole. The proposition of armed security guards or police in schools is ineffective at best and detrimental at worst. There is no data to back up the notion that School Resource Officers (SRO) have prevented, do prevent, or will prevent school shootings. There is data, however, to suggest that SROs are detrimental to students, often criminalizing behaviors that normally boil down to childish behavior.

The best way to make Madison students and students nationwide feel safer is not through heavy police presence or transphobic rhetoric but through strong legislation. Criminalizing harmless behavior and the existence of trans students is the only outcome that will result from Republican solutions. The only way to prevent these tragedies is clear, effective and strong gun control.