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Gun-free zones dangerous to those within them

By Gregory Koch
On March 26, 2014

Recently, the Florida state legislature's education panel approved a measure that would allow employees and volunteers to carry loaded weapons in school zones or on school property. The bill will now move on to the full legislature. At the moment, Florida public schools, and almost all schools in the country, are "gun-free zones." However, this only deters law abiding citizens from carrying guns. It does not deter murderers. This makes it hard for people to defend themselves and others.
Although many liberals believe gun-free zones increase public safety, the exact opposite is true. They are detrimental to safety. Allowing teachers to carry firearms on school grounds would enable them to protect themselves and their students. This would prevent some school shootings entirely while significantly reducing the impact of the rest.
Allowing people to carry guns at schools or other areas not only allows them to defend themselves, but serves as a deterrent as well. Someone planning to carry out a mass shooting is far more likely to choose a location where he knows nobody will be carrying weapons. There were seven theaters showing the film "The Dark Knight Rises" within a 20 minute drive of James Holmes' house the night he killed 12 moviegoers attending the premiere. Holmes chose to target not the closest one, but the only one which did not allow guns on their premises.
Not all killers specifically target gun-free zones. However, those who attack a public place with armed citizens are going to kill fewer people before being stopped. When a shooter opened fire on patrons at a mall in Clackamas, Oregon in December of 2012, Nick Meli was nearby with a friend and her baby. Meli pulled out his own gun and pointed it at the gunman. The shooter only fired one more shot after that, opting to take his own life rather than be killed by Meli. Only two people plus the perpetrator died in that incident. Many more lives could have been lost, including Meli's friend's baby, if people at the mall were not allowed to carry guns. The policy of allowing firearms on mall property saved lives that day.
According to author John Lott, with the sole exception of the shooting in Tucson which seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, "Every public gun shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has occurred in a place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms." Many shooters specifically targeted gun-free zones. Others attacked places with armed citizens and were stopped well before they would have been if nobody else had a gun.
Contrary to a popular meme, at least one person has opened fire in a gun store before. On Feb. 3, 1990, David Zaback walked into H&J Leather & Firearms in suburban Seattle and announced a holdup. He fired off a few wild shots with his gun. Several armed patrons then shot back at Zaback. He was hit by four bullets and left with nothing but a Darwin Award for dying in an unusually stupid way. Nobody else was hurt. Had Zaback been smart enough to rob another type of store, he might have injured or killed customers or employees, especially if the store banned guns on the premises. However, because virtually all customers at this store were armed, nobody was hurt except the would-be robber.
No shooter has ever been deterred by the fact that their targeted location did not allow guns. After all, presumably their targets do not allow murder on their premises either. However, a killer does not care about the laws against murder, and will have no problem disregarding regulations banning guns in certain areas. It should be obvious, but the only people who obey laws are law-abiding citizens. Murderers do not care about the law and will not be deterred by a "gun-free zone." In fact, it may make them more likely to target that location because they know nobody else will be armed.
Gun-free zones are dangerous to those inside them. They fail to deter shooters and only prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying guns. Furthermore, advertising a gun-free zone lets shooters and robbers know the location is an easy target. Of course, private businesses should not be required to allow guns-that is a simple property rights issue. However, if they care about the safety of their customers and employees, they should voluntarily permit firearms on their premises.  


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