On one hand, Trump ordered a ban on bump stocks, which are used to make semi-automatic rifles fire like automatic weapons. On the other, he voiced his belief that armed teachers can prevent school shootings. Radio Sputnik discussed this with Jay Corzine, a professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Central Florida.
Sputnik: What is your take on the new ban on bump stocks, do you think this will have any significant impact on mass shootings?
Jay Corzine: I don't think it will decrease the number at all. Bump stocks have been used in only a very a small number of mass shootings, they gained notoriety because of the use in the Las Vegas massacre [in October 2017]. The most that would happen [due to the ban] is in some mass shootings the number of killed would be reduced… So it may have a minor impact in a few cases in terms in the number of victims.
Sputnik: President Trump has stated that he is more open now to introducing tighter restrictions on firearms. Do you think more will be introduced apart from this ban on bump stocks?
Jay Corzine: I think that a universal background check is a good move. I think it's a better move if it's coupled with a waiting period. A waiting period and background checks are feasible politically, too. There's a tremendous amount of public support for universal background checks. There's not stronger support for the idea of banning assault weapons. The feasibility of the universal background checks and waiting periods would make them much more likely to be a political reality in the near term.
Sputnik: Some experts have opposed banning the bump stock device, saying that more attention should be focused on the person firing the gun than the weapon itself. What's your stance on the gun law situation in the US?
Jay Corzine: I think you have to focus both on individuals but also the types of weapons that are available legally to the civilian population. Let's take England as the point of comparison: there are obviously many people in England who have serious mental health problems, but mass shootings in England are extraordinarily rare. And that's because military style weapons, as well as most firearms, are not available to allow individuals to take [dozens of] lives.
Sputnik: Gun violence researchers have often stated that no law can eliminate the risk of mass shootings, as they are unpredictable.
Jay Corzine: No law can completely eliminate the risk of mass shootings, that's absolutely correct — there will always be at least a small-scale black market [for firearms]. On the other hand, laws can, I believe, reduce the number of mass shootings.
According to Corzine, arming teachers is not a viable solution to deadly school shootings for a number of reasons. A teacher would have to worry about the possibility of hitting innocent students, should he or she try to fire in self-defense, for example. And while descriptions of most mass shooters hold that they go about their killing very calmly, a teacher in this situation will be flooded with adrenaline and likely without much law enforcement or military training. The average teacher, he said, is unlikely to be able to have much impact on this type of incident.