So far this year, there have been 18 school shootings in the US. In the deadliest, 18 people were killed in Marshall County, Kentucky. The next month, seventeen were killed in Parkland, Florida. Thirteen were killed last week in Santa Fe, Texas.
The United States is the only country in the world where school shootings happen regularly. While gun control advocates point to the murder weapon as a key part of the problem, advocates for gun rights are laying the blame elsewhere: trench coats.
“To the teachers and administrators out there, the trench coat is kind of a giveaway. You might just say no more trench coats,” said conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt speaking about school shootings, arguing that trench coats would be a good way to spot potential mass shooters.
Hewitt is not alone in blaming clothes—instead of guns—for mass murder. After the Columbine massacre in 1999, trench coats were banned from schools around the country, as were all-black looks, due to initial reports that the shooters were part of the so-called “Trench Coat Mafia,” a school group that dressed in goth clothing and wore long black coats. Eventually, investigations found the shooters were not part of the group.
Of course, it’s not just trench coats; from drugs to doors, here’s a list of all the things guns rights advocates have proposed banning instead of guns.
“There are too many entrances and too many exits to our more than 8,000 campuses in Texas,” said radio host Dan Patrick of the Santa Fe shooting. Patrick, an evangelical Christian, suggested making schools more intruder-proof as the solution. If there was just one entrance, he reasoned, maybe the shooter(s) would be stopped more easily. Of course, this would likely present safety issues of other kinds (for fire or earthquake emergencies, for instance).
Violent video games as the cause of mass shootings is a favorite NRA talking points, and one that was recently adopted by Donald Trump, too. The scientific community has yet to reach an agreement on whether violent games can influence actual real life behavior.
Drugs for attention deficit disorder are behind the massacre, says Oliver North, the president of the NRA, who characterized school shooters as “young boys [who] have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.” North claimed that the medication would make kids more prone to act out the “culture of violence” in which they live.
After the Santa Fe shooting, some schools are enforcing a backpack ban. Who needs to ban guns if you can ban the things that carry guns? Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school also adopted a transparent backpack policy after the massacre that occurred on its grounds.
Tweeting about the shooting in Santa Fe, Texas representative Jonathan Stickland seemed to suggest the ultimate solution to school shootings was to offer alternatives to schools themselves. This, he said, would give parents “as many different choices as possible.”