The truth about gun free zones

Published 7:08 pm Monday, August 5, 2019

We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of the decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people’ but we can hope that fewer will listen to nonsense.” President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Two more mass public shootings erupted recently in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The one common circumstance in these shootings is that the violence occurred in what are known as Gun Free Zones “GFZs”. These are public places where people cannot carry guns on their person.

For years, those who have opposed Americans from exercising our Constitutional right under the second Amendment have used fear and emotion in an attempt to make people “feel” a certain way about guns. Even worse, many of these efforts have been employed to gain votes. Their main message asserts that a person is safe in an area where guns are not allowed. This may paint the picture of a nice, serene environment. But, the painful truth, supported by undisputed facts, is just the opposite. 

During my 16 years of criminal defense practice, I have handled real cases that involve real gun violence. I have not had to read books, debate ideas, or test classroom theories to confirm that human predators prey on the weak and defenseless. A predatory gunman knows that people in GFZs are unarmed and cannot protect themselves. Thus, common sense dictates that gunmen choose GFZs to unleash their uncontrollable urge to kill.

But, do not take my word for this. I am an ardent defender of the second Amendment and have a certain level of bias. I only ask that you compartmentalize your personal feelings about guns and use unemotional logic when reading the below facts.

The official FBI definition of mass public shootings excludes “shootings from gang and drug violence” or ones that occurred in the commission of another crime such as robbery. The reason for this is obvious. The causes and solutions for gang shootings over drug turf are dramatically different than the types of mass public shootings that we see at schools and malls where the point of the attack is to kill as many people as possible.

The FBI also includes only shootings in “public places” such as commercial areas (malls, stores, and other businesses), schools and colleges, open spaces, government properties (including military bases and civilian offices), houses of worship, and healthcare facilities. By using FBI data and criteria related to mass public shootings, the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that 90 percent of mass public shootings between 1998 and June 2019 occurred in GFZs. To this day, I have yet to hear anyone present an explanation as to why GFZs keep Americans safe. 

Such an argument would be nonsense.