A new report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., has published a three-page report that counters much of the anti-gun rhetoric about mass shootings and so-called “assault weapons” in the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school tragedy.
Headlined “The Current Gun Debate: Mass Shootings,” the report was released Monday, coincidentally timed two days before Seattle’s KIRO, the local CBS affiliate, hosts a one-hour live discussion titled “An Urgent Conversation About Guns.” That program will air live Wednesday evening, 7-8 p.m. for viewers in western Washington. The event will be held on the campus of Seattle University.
According to the Heritage report:
■ More than 90% of public mass shootings take place in “gun-free zones” where private citizens are not permitted to carry firearms.
■ A complete ban on “assault weapons” will save very few lives: Six out of every 10 mass public shootings are carried out by handguns alone, while only one in 10 is committed with a rifle alone.
■ The average age of mass public shooters is 34, which means that increasing the minimum age for purchasing firearms would not target the main perpetrators of mass public shootings.
There are some common denominators among mass shooters, including histories of mental disorders among an estimated 60 percent of the suspects. The Heritage Report said there is “a large body of research” that shows a “statistical link between mass public shootings and serious untreated psychiatric illness.”
Though not contained in the Heritage Foundation report, the FBI Uniform Crime Report with data dating back to 2012 shows that rifles of any kind, including so-called “assault rifles,” are used in a fraction of homicides in any given year. More people are killed annually by people using knives or other edged weapons, blunt instruments or even fists, hands or feet.
Wednesday will see a national protest by high school students who walk out of their schools for 17 minutes in honor of the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. The Seattle City Council on Monday took “the sort of symbolic stand it relishes,” according to Joel Connelly, Seattle’s anti-gun lobby journalistic voice, by endorsing the walk out. Gun prohibitionists are big on symbolism, but if the Heritage Foundation report is accurate, they may need a little work on substance.