Gun-Free Zones are Killing Us
Kennesaw, GA recently became the surprising setting for a shooting rampage that occurred at the local FedEx facility. Kennesaw, the state’s 4th safest city, gained notoriety in 1982 for being the first US town to require all heads of household to own a firearm. Before gun prohibitionists rejoice, this shooting actually occurred in a gun-free zone where law abiding citizens are often left defenseless and forbidden to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.
To be clear, the 2nd Amendment actually guarantees two rights – to keep and bear arms – for many purposes, including self-defense. With police averaging more than 10 minutes to respond to 9-1-1 calls (some jurisdictions are as high as 58 minutes), the ability to defend one’s self is a necessity. Law enforcement officers (LEOs) just can’t shepherd every citizen at all times. The courts have even repeatedly ruled that LEOs have no duty to protect individuals. This means that self-defense is often left in the hands of American citizens, and the right to bear arms is a viable option for self-protection.
After recent developments, concealed carry activists seem to be winning the fight in courts against draconian overregulation and restraints. In July of 2014, the decision from Palmer vs. District of Columbia ruled in favor of the 2nd Amendment, finding that Washington DC refused its citizens the right to carry firearms. This follows similar landmark decisions in Chicago and San Diego as well.
Safe and responsibly armed citizens present the best opportunity for competent self-defense in public and private. With 2/3 of violent crimes and the majority of armed crimes occurring outside of the home, the option of armed defense is imperative. LEOs, statisticians, and average Americans are widely realizing that guns in the hands of responsible Americans not only provide protection but deter crime too. An exhaustive national 1999 study even found that, on average, states that permit concealed carry have fewer assaults, rapes, and murders. This is surely a contributing factor of why 47% of adults now own guns and 8 million or more Americans have their concealed carry licenses (CCL).
To the disappointment of anti-gun rights activists, CCL holders are renowned for being safer and more responsible than average citizens. In fact, as of 2011, the State of Florida issued over 2 million carry permits, and less than 0.009% of those permit holders had their licenses rescinded because of firearm-related infractions. The majority of these revocations were actually the result of nonthreatening events.
Concealed carry activists have seen major victories reaffirming the 2nd Amendment, but legal, responsible, and authorized gun owners are still forbidden from carrying firearms in many locations. Laws, ordinances, and policies creating gun-free zones generate environments that give criminals the advantage, leaving law-abiding citizens defenseless. According to a paradigm-shifting 1999 study by John Lott and Williams Landes, a common similarity among multiple victim public shootings was that they took place in venues where guns were not permitted. In an April, 2014 interview, Lott said, “with just two exceptions, at least since 1950, all the multiple victim public shootings in the United States have taken place where guns are banned.” This is a stunning fact that exposes the truth about gun-free zones. They are treacherous and vulnerable locations for defenseless citizens who follow the law.
Just a few months after the FedEx shooting, yet another one occurred in a gun-free zone with a much different outcome – this one, in Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania. Hospital psychiatrist, Dr. Silverman, became an unexpected hero when he prevented a mass shooting by drawing and firing his concealed handgun, stopping the shooter. The local borough police chief even credited Dr. Silverman with saving lives.
Still, 2nd Amendment abolitionists would prefer to see guns entirely banned even at the risk of Americans’ lives, liberties, and property. The loss of every single one of 2010’s 11,068 firearm-related homicides is tragic, but this is not a reason to deny responsible Americans the ability to defend themselves – especially considering that firearms are used with much more regularity for self-defense than homicides. Social scientists have estimated that Americans use guns defensively 250,000-370,000 times a year. Other studies have presented a much larger range – from 108,000 to more than 2 million times annually.
While there is no shortage of compelling pragmatic and even utilitarian reasons why Americans should be permitted to exercise the 2nd Amendment, gun rights activists continually are forced to repel a constant onslaught of attacks from gun rights prohibitionists. The right to keep and bear arms is constitutional and self-defense is naturally instinctive, which combined offer citizens protection from imminent danger, tyranny, and oppression. It’s also the 2nd Amendment that helps guarantee all other rights, and one of the great ingenuities of constitutional rights is that they actually require no basis for justification. They are intact and accessible with or without perceived necessity.