- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

Inevitably the massacres in Alabama and Germany over the last two days have produced more calls for gun control. Already the attack in Alabama is being cited in calls for a new assault-weapons ban, even though there are no peer-reviewed scientific studies that show that such bans actually reduce murders.

The Alabama shooting spree left 11 people dead, as the killer went from one house to another shooting members of his family and others inside. Three victims were shot from the window of the killer’s moving car.

Yesterday, in Germany, at least 10 students and three teachers were killed at a public school near Stuttgart. Three other people were killed at other locations.

Sadly, the German attack is simply the latest in a string of horrible public school massacres in that country. In 2002, 16 people were killed at an attack in Erfurt, and two other smaller multiple victim public school shootings occurred that year. In 2006, 11 students were wounded in Emsdetten. Germany has had the two worst multiple-victim K-12 school shootings in the world.

The last seven years of German school shootings make the United States seem peaceful by comparison: Though the U.S. has almost five times as many students as Germany, 37 people were killed during all multiple-victim K-12 shootings in the U.S. during the eight years from fall 1997 to summer 2005. Germany suffered more than 40 deaths in the same period.

Clearly gun control doesn’t save lives. Germany already has some of the strictest gun-control laws in Europe - much stricter than are being discussed in the U.S. Yet Germany suffers more school shootings per capita than the U.S.

Even banning guns outright doesn’t prevent school massacres. Over the past seven years France, Finland, and Switzerland have suffered from mass shootings, yet the attacks happened in buildings where guns were banned.

Research has clearly shown that gun control is more likely to disarm potential victims than criminals, and make crime easier to commit.

Multiple-victim public shootings are terrifying and drive much of the gun control debate, but they make up just a tiny fraction of one percent of the murders. The problem is that the gun-control laws that come out of these tragic events usually push crime rates up and make multiple-victim public shootings more likely. Police are the single most important factor for reducing crime. Yet even the police understand that they virtually always arrive on the scene after the crime has occurred. Letting law-abiding citizens defend themselves not only deters some crimes, but is the surest way of reducing the carnage when attacks do occur. The crimes that are stopped by guns rarely get much news coverage.

If lawmakers bow to calls for more gun control, Americans will find it harder to carry the one thing that stops school shootings-a gun in the hand of a law-abiding citizen.

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