Whenever I put significant effort into yet again contemplating gun control, I start by re-reading "Of Holocausts and Gun Control". There are many chilling excerpts in it, and the two I found most chilling and focusing are (emphasis added):
"Governments have exterminated or cooperated in the extermination of something like one hundred and seventy million of their own people in the twentieth century"; and
"...it is nevertheless an arresting reality that not one of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed..."If you think that something like that can't happen here, as explained by the essay mentioned above it almost did at least twice. Examples include Japanese internment camps during World War II and the violence of the KKK in the south.
I then notice that:
"With a single exception, every multiple-victim public shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms."This follows the genocide paradigm on a smaller scale. In this case, the killings are too few to be a statistic, not too many to be a terrible tragedy (to paraphrase Joseph Stalin). We feel the pain of public shootings more intimately than a genocide lost in history, because they are more intimate. We can watch each parent cry on TV and cry along with them. We can read the notes that the small children wrote to their parents that they would meet them in heaven as tears well up in our eyes. Anything but this, we say. Anything but this, I say.
But then I dry my eyes and realize that the similarity is striking. Unarmed people are sitting ducks, whether for populations of millions or for a building full of school children and unarmed teachers, administrators and other workers. Predators are attracted to the easiest prey: the sick, the weak, the old, and the unarmed. School-zone mass shootings didn’t begin until after passing Clinton’s Gun Free Schools Act. The gun-free zone designation is a giant neon sign to the predator: "We're here and helpless. Kill us." And killed they were.
So the choices are: take weapons away from predators or arm as many people as possible so there's a chance of defense against the predators. The former seems impossible. Building guns is not rocket science. Even if every gun magically were confiscated, anyone with minimum determination could build one and each day it gets easier and easier to do so.
That leaves arming as many people as possible. School teachers should be heavily encouraged to get concealed carry permits. They should be reimbursed for training to use those weapons. Same with administrators and even janitors.
But in the end it is a judgment call, a matter of opinion. I'm not risk adverse, I value individual freedom and responsibility heavily, I don't trust governments, and I'm wildly skeptical that any form of gun control will substantially reduce access to guns by criminals and psychopaths. If someone else believes the opposite on most or all of these things, they're likely to reach the opposite conclusion.
Since the process is incremental in either direction, there will be more mass killings, more tragedies and more tears.