Michelle Darnell’s recent letter (“Don’t ban guns, ban government schools”) was unfortunate in two ways: It used a recent mass killing as justification to pivot to an unrelated issue, and it blatantly misrepresented facts to reach its predetermined conclusion.
“Government” schools have not become the incubator for mass shootings. That is like saying that Las Vegas hotels, open-air concerts, movie theaters, churches and navy yards are the cause of mass murders.
Claiming that private schools are “more caring, personal, boutique, and couture” is a value claim, not a measurable fact. What we can measure with public versus private schools is clear: Private schools do not improve test scores, generally offer lower teacher pay, and choose their student body from their pool of applicants. Public schools don’t get to do that, and must serve all students regardless of ability and home stability. Ms. Darnell avoids explaining how children at risk will even be accepted to private schools.
Ms. Darnell also claims that a private school would have “seen warning signs” from the Parkland shooter. But the staff and teachers did see signs of trouble. He had been expelled. He was known to local police, and the Florida Department of Children and Families had intervened in his welfare. People are asking why no one did anything to stop this shooting, but they did all they could under the law.
If we are willing to introduce prior restraint laws, confiscating weapons and jailing people who seem like they might commit a future crime, that might have stopped this particular murder — but that’s not a solution that most of us want to explore. The cause of the Parkland shootings is clear: we allow weapons of war, with no purpose but to kill multiple humans rapidly, to be owned by individuals. As with most of these incidents, the reason is clear, no matter how much we try to ignore it: It’s not “uncaring government schools,” it’s not video games, and it’s not teachers being unarmed. It’s guns.