Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Phony Gun Free Zones Are Deadly

Yesterday there was yet another "mass shooting" - this one in a beer and wine distribution center. Sadly, the shooter claimed 8 lives before killing himself. It's time we faced up to one critical fact: Virtually all of these incidents happen in what I will call PHONY GUN FREE ZONES.

What is a PHONY GUN FREE ZONE? It is a place where guns are prohibited, but there is no enforcement, no security. Everything is on the honor system. The law abiding comply. Even those with concealed carry permits leave their guns in their cars or at home. Ditto off duty cops. Those bent on mass murder (and usually suicide) seem to have no problem violating a rule against guns. As a result, these zones are the most common location for mass shootings.

Contrast this with a REAL GUN FREE ZONE, such as the "sterile" area of an airport, or a typical courthouse. Here there is more than a rule - there is enforcement. People are screened as they enter the zone. How many mass shootings have happened in airport "sterile" areas or secured court houses? Very few, if any.

There is a third zone that I will call SELF DEFENSE PERMITTED ZONE. Forty states now issue concealed carry permits to anyone who passes the background check and successfully completes firearm training. Statistically permit holders are at least 5 times less likely to commit crime than the general public. A study of Texas permit holders revealed police offers were twice as likely to be arrested as carry permit holders! Permit holders are law abiding people.

They are also very good at staying out of trouble. Much like those trained in other martial arts - yes shooting is a martial art - they try to do everything the can to avoid using force of any kind, especially deadly force. They are far from being "Rambo want to be's". The greatest testimony to their restraint and judgment is the fact that in 20 plus years of experience not one state has repealed their concealed carry law.

What effect do concealed carry permit holders have in mass shooting situations? In December 2009 a shooter entered New Life Church in Denver. After shooting 2 people in the parking lot he was shot dead by a female permit holder who was part of a volunteer security detail. She may have saved as many as 50 people. In at least three cases teachers with permits have used their guns to end school shootings in spite of the fact that they had to retrieve their weapons from their cars which had to be parked at least 500 feet away to comply with federal law. Permit holders may not be able to save everyone when a crazed individual decides to kill as many people as they can - but they can, and often do, reduce the death toll. In my book, that is a very good thing. Even more important is the fact that the possibility of armed opposition may cause the shooter to pick a less populated place to attack their primary target. The can make the difference between a tragic murder-suicide and an even more tragic mass killing.

It's time to do away with PHONY GUN FREE ZONES. Most of these zones are located on private property. Those who operate these businesses need to fish or cut bait. Either make their businesses are REAL GUN FREE ZONES, or SELF DEFENSE PERMITTED ZONES. Hats off to Starbucks - a liberal leaning corporation - who recently resisted pressure to turn their stores into PHONY GUN FREE ZONES. They opted instead to allow legally carried firearms, effectively making their stores SELF DEFENSE PERMITTED ZONES.
REAL GUN FREE ZONES and SELF DEFENSE PERMITTED ZONES both save lives. All PHONY GUN FREE ZONES do is reassure the mass shooter that no one will be able to shoot back.

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