During the intense media coverage of Wednesdayâ€™s tragic events in Parkland, Fla., I was shocked to hear it was the 18th school shooting so far this year.
18. In 45 days.
That sounds terrible.
That sounds like a huge American crisis that needs to be addressed immediately by our great leaders in Washington.
But that 18 number, which the anti-gun lobby in the media has emphasized without going into the details of the individual incidents, is highly misleading.
None of those previous shootings was anything like the horrible one on Wednesday that left 17 students and teachers dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The yearâ€™s worst previous shooting, which happened in Kentucky at a high school less than a month ago, left two students dead and 14 wounded by gunfire.
The only other death was a single murder that occurred on a college campus.
Two of the shootings that occurred at one of the countryâ€™s 120,000 public and private schools this year were suicides.
Some involved guns firing accidentally. And most of the other incidents were random shootings on public school property that resulted in no one being hurt.
But these details of the earlier shootings didnâ€™t matter to religious anti-gun nuts in the media like Don Lemon of CNN and liberal politicians like Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
Before we knew hardly anything about the Parkland shooting they were offering their usual sim-plistic solution for stopping what Murphy exaggeratedly called â€śthis epidemic of mass slaughterâ€ť in our schools.
To no oneâ€™s surprise, they called for new laws to control or outlaw guns, especially semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.
Lemon and Murphy will never give up their gun-control pipe dreams.
But those of us who live in the real world know that no law will ever be devised or enforced that can stop a determined mass killer from getting his hands on a gun if he wanted one badly enough.
Anyway, guns arenâ€™t the problem. There are 300 million of all kinds floating around the country. An infinitesimal fraction are used by people to hurt other people.
But there has to be something going on in our society that has caused angry, evil or mentally disturbed young men to plan and carry out these rare mass shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland.
Is it because of social media? Violent video games? Bullying in schools? Broken families? Anti-depressant drugs? Boredom? All of the above? Something else?
Whatever the cause, we need to sit down as a country and figure out how we can identify, help or stop crazy or violent individuals before they carry out their deadly attacks.
Meanwhile, forget the gun-control politics. If we really want to protect our kids in schools we have to get serious.
We need to put guards in our schools - armed guards, not spectators.
We need make sure any potential mass killer, young or old, knows that our schools are no longer â€śgun freeâ€ť zones.
Better yet, as Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News suggests, we need to copy the Israelis.
For years theyâ€™ve successfully protected their schoolchildrenâ€™s lives from attack with strong fences, locked gates, careful ID checks and cameras.
But theyâ€™ve also done the smartest thing - arming and training classroom teachers who can defend against intruders. And no one knows which teacher is packing a gun.
Increasing security at our nearly 100,000 public schools to prevent future Parklands will cost us a lot of money.
Local districts and the states should pay most of the tab. But how about this idea:
Instead of the federal government raising my gas tax 12 cents a gallon and pretending itâ€™s going to be used to fix our highways, why not use the money to hire guards for our schools - and give them guns they know how to use.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political con-sultant, and the author of â€śThe New Reagan Revolution.â€ť