How should the country deal with gun violence?

Posted at 12:27 PM, Oct 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-05 12:27:34-04

CINCINNATI -- After another deadly mass shooting, this time at a college in Oregon, the public is once again hotly debating the role of guns in society.

Some citizens are calling for more armed guards at schools and universities, or even to arm teachers. Still more argue for the end of “gun-free zones.”

On the opposite side, detractors are issuing calls ranging from enhanced background checks to outright gun bans.

However, with a Congress that is about to lock horns over numerous budget battles, there is little political will to address the issue beyond the usual platitudes issued during such tragedies.

"We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months," a visibly frustrated President Barack Obama said in a televised address hours after the Oregon rampage.

"Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this."

According to the Associated Press, the reality is that mass shootings in the U.S. are rare and such attacks account for a tiny fraction of the more than 31,000 people killed by gunshots annually, said Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Mass murders - in which four or more people are killed - are 0.2 percent of U.S. homicides, Duwe said. That figure includes episodes of extreme violence within families or during robberies or other crimes.

Mass shootings at schools and other public settings average just four a year, but the rate has increased 26 percent in the last decade, said Duwe.

John Nicoletti, a police psychologist in Colorado who has worked with police departments after mass shootings, said he is frustrated by the public's perception that nothing can be done to curtail them.

"People don't realize there are a number of success cases, but those are ones you never hear of," he said. "Every school has a threat assessment protocol. When people broadcast threats, they are being taken seriously. Shootings are prevented every day."

In the Tri-State the debate has even come before local school boards. Boone County Schools talked about arming teachers in 2014 but eventually decided against the plan.

The school board heard presentations from “POST” or Protecting Our Students and Teachers. The group aims end “gun free” zones and urges that teachers be armed and trained with firearms.

In Ohio, schools are required to have a safety plan to address shootings and other issues. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said after the Sandy Hook mass shooting that his office keeps those plans on file and prompts schools to keep them up to date.

At the time, DeWine said the gun law did not need to be changed for teachers to have guns in school.

Prior to 2008, concealed handgun licensees were barred from school property with the exception of those designated by the school district. For school districts or local governments that can afford them, school resource officers often fill that role.

Ohio lawmakers passed a new exception to the no-guns policy in 2008 when they voted to allow parents who have conceal-carry permits to bring their guns to school to pick up and drop off their children. The guns have to stay inside the parents’ vehicles, but the choice of whether to allow the guns on school property does not lay with local schools. Schools must allow guns in the pickup/drop-off queue, by order of the state.

However, while many schools ask for funding for more school resource officers, that funding is scarce in Ohio.

Still others say society needs to deal with gun issues at the source, namely that means dealing with how criminals or would-be shooters get their weapons. But with police forces largely stretched thin, a concerted push is hard for departments to muster.

In the end, it will likely be up to a push from voters from either side to lobby lawmakers to finally address the issue.

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