Following yet another horrific mass shooting in the United States—this one in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas where a gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults—some conservatives and libertarians have offered takes ranging from unhelpful (“thoughts and prayers”) to idiotic (“lets put more guns in schools”).
Then there are the people using the tragedy to push for parents to take their kids out of school. The Federalist published the following putrid pool of trash water: “Tragedies Like The Texas Shooting Make A Somber Case For Homeschooling.”
One of the problems with proposing homeschooling as a solution to school shootings is that, by some estimates, there are more guns than people in the United States. In 2017, the New York Times reported that there were 270 million guns in the U.S. A year later, in 2018, a new survey by the nonpartisan Small Arms Survey put that figure at 393 million, or 120.5 civilian-owned guns for every 100 living people in the U.S.
The proposal to homeschool kids also ignores that people die from gun violence in their homes. The Uvalde gunman allegedly shot his grandmother, critically wounding her in their home, before going to the school—just the latest example of the troubling connection between mass shooters and domestic violence. The gun safety group Everytown estimates that, in 53 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2020, the perpetrator shot a family member or current or former intimate partner.
Admittedly, homeschooling is a convenient talking point for conservatives who, helped by mega-donors like the Koch network, are furiously attacking public education and want to dismantle it entirely. Take the frenzy over “critical race theory,” and laws regulating how teachers can discuss sexuality like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Republicans are creating conditions so toxic that parents don’t want their kids in public school—and teachers don’t want to work there either.
The author of the Federalist piece makes explicit this larger goal of attacking schools:
It is clear now from the long list of school shootings in recent years that families can’t trust government schools, in particular, to bring their children or teachers home safely at the end of the day. The same institutions that punish students for “misgendering” people and hide curriculum from parents are simply not equipped to safeguard your children from harm.
Right now, we’re awaiting a decision in a Supreme Court case called Carson v. Makin, which looks like it will mandate public funding for religious schools in Maine. In a separate pending case, the Supreme Court looks likely to side with a former football coach who was fired after “inviting” players to pray with him on the field after games (the coach determines playing time so the liberal justices said this was coercion). Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently said that he wants to challenge the 1982 Supreme Court decision that requires public schools to educate all students regardless of citizenship status. And even before the pandemic, some parents were homeschooling their kids to avoid vaccination requirements.
It’s no coincidence that homeschooling also requires one parent to stay home and, since women typically earn less than men, that labor would often fall to women. That, combined with the impending fall of Roe v. Wade and two dozen states banning abortion, will mean more women forced to have kids and pressured to stay home with them while remaining financially dependent on their partners. Republicans want to take us back to the 19th century—but with way more guns.