Gun free zones are typically meant to restrict all guns from entering the premises, however, they do the exact opposite. Gun free zones advertise an area where there are no immediate consequence to abhorrent actions. We adorn establishments that contain large groups of innocent people with signs that read, “WARNING: All Weapons, Including Concealed Firearms, Are Prohibited On These Premises”.
Following the tragic events in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I felt it necessary to review the history of Gun Free Zones and the massacres they instigated.
On October 16th, 1991, a crazed George Hennard rammed his blue Ford Ranger into the window at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. Hennard then opened fire in the cafeteria, killing 23 people and wounding 27 others. Among the survivors was Suzanne Gratia Hupp. Hupp was eating with her parents at Luby’s when Hennard perpetrated the deadliest non-school shooting in U.S. history. According to her memoir, Hupp witnessed both her mother and father die at the hands of Hennard. Hupp, who had her concealed carry license, explains in her memoir and a powerful video, “the gunman was rounding the front of his vehicle, his right shoulder toward me, when it dawned on me, ‘I’ve got him!’ I had a perfect place to prop my hand to help stabilize my little revolver on the upturned table in front of us”. However, Hupp had left her weapon in the car because she feared that she would get in trouble for carrying it inside Luby’s, a gun free zone. Hupp continued, “I’m not angry at the guy who did it. That’s like being angry at a rabid dog. You might have to kill it, but you’re not angry at it. But, I’ll tell you what, I’m mad as hell at my legislators for legislating me out of the right to protect myself and my family”. Hupp, who served five terms in the Texas House of Representatives, continues the fight for second amendment rights.
The Luby’s Massacre and Hupp’s testimony invoke an interesting question, “Would 23 people still be alive if gun free zones had not deterred Hupp from bringing her revolver into the cafe?”.
On April 20th, 1999, two deranged students entered Columbine high school and opened fire. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, armed with sawed off shotguns, pistols, and an Uzi, shot and killed 13 students and wounded another 23. They killed most of their victims in the library. However, one student in the library was lucky enough to live. In the heat of the moment as Klebold and Harris entered the library, sophomore Evan Todd hid under a desk. Todd’s desk was shot at multiple times by Eric Harris before the murderous duo moved on into the depths of the library. In his recounting of the gruesome day, Todd states that he moved away from the desk until Klebold and Harris found him again. “Why should we let you live?” asked Klebold, menacingly pointing a gun at Todd. Todd responded with, “I’ve always been good to you”. By the grace of god, Todd’s life was spared. As Klebold and Harris pushed on into the school, Todd and others escaped the library.
Following the massacre, Evan Todd has began speaking about the atrocities that happened that day and how they could have been prevented. In an open letter to Obama, Todd explains that restrictive gun laws and the implementation of gun free zones disarm those who could prevent mass shootings like Columbine. Todd calls for a repeal of gun free zones saying, “Don’t allow America’s teachers and students to be endangered one-day more. These parents and teachers have the natural right to defend themselves and not be looked at as criminals. There is no reason teachers must disarm themselves to perform their jobs. There is also no reason a parent or volunteer should be disarmed when they cross the school line”.
The Columbine massacre is one of many mass school shootings that have occurred in the United States in the past 30 years. Virginia Tech experienced the worst school shooting in history on April 16th, 2007, when Seung Hui-Cho shot and killed 32 students and teachers. Another tragic mass shooting was the Newtown shooting. Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary and murdered 26 students and teachers on December 14th, 2012. The tragic loss of life rocked America and left many wondering how such atrocities could take place in that environment.
At first glance, these shootings shock and bewilder americans as to why such horrible things could happen in the happiest and supposedly safest of environments. However, after examination of these shootings its easy to conclude that schools have always been a target for mass shooters simply because there are many possible victims coupled with a slim chance of any immediate armed resistance. Gun free zones, especially in schools, disarm those who seek to protect innocent lives and empower those who seek to destroy them.
Military outposts are specifically targeted because, despite common belief, our military is disarmed when they are on military bases. This gun free zone policy for military base dates back to George H. W. Bush, not Clinton. Donald Atwood, under the Bush administration, signed Department of Defense directive 5210.56 which disarms military personnel on military bases. This directive and the disarming of military has lead to several tragic shootings.
On November 5th, 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas. Hasan’s murderous rampage left 12 soldiers dead. Another shooting, which happened very recently, is the Chattanooga shooting. On July 16th, Mohammod Abdulazeez tragically shot and killed 4 Marines and one Navy petty officer after ramming his car through the gates at a naval center. These shootings beg the question, “Why do we trust military to carry firearms overseas but not at home?” It left many scratching their heads as to why the United States would place the lives of many brave men and women in the hands of a gun free zone sign. Military personnel are sitting ducks at military bases and are susceptible to domestic terrorism from radicalized individuals who seek to destroy our armed forces. It’s ridiculous to think that after these shootings the national debate still hasn’t completely shifted into reversing DoD directives and arming our armed forces at home.
While those who implement and defend gun free zones have good intentions, the data just does not agree with the notion that people are safer in gun free zones. Almost every mass shooting has been perpetrated within the confines of a gun free zone. Gun free zones attract mass shooters because they realize that they will be able to commit mass murder way before any law enforcement can stop them.
Some may argue that it isn’t gun free zones that attract shooters, instead it’s their convictions and motives. While motives may drive a shooter to a specific place, its the gun free zone that draws them in.
America, it’s time to wake up. It’s time to allow certified teachers to carry concealed firearms into schools. It’s time to allow active duty soldiers to have their weapons at military bases. It’s time to put the control back in the hands of the victim, not the murderer. Those who are licensed and responsible enough to carry, should be allowed to carry anywhere. It’s time to get rid of gun free zones.
If you find yourself thinking about the effectiveness of gun free zones, place yourself in a hypothetical situation where there is an active shooter threatening your life. What do you bet your life on? A Glock 9mm holstered on your hip ready to take the shooter down, or a sign outside the establishment?
Keep in mind, evil doesn’t obey laws.