by Samuel Brooks
During my junior year of college, I had written a research paper in attempts to answer the question as to whether gun control, more specifically “gun-free zones”, work while providing my solutions if gun control didn’t. I’ll be sharing what I found in my research in this post.
Quick disclaimer: Since writing my paper, I’ve made slight revisions. Also, my solutions to the “gun control” and mass shooter issue hasn’t changed but, instead, expanded since recently getting certified as an instructor in the USCCA’s ‘Countering the Mass Shooter Threat’ course along with communicating with other crisis management professionals. You can learn more about our active shooter prevention courses and programs here.
Warning: Some of the descriptions in this essay may be disturbing to some readers.
The purpose of this document is to prove the ineffectiveness of gun control legislation, particularly within gun-free zones through statistics and historical evidence; and to show the importance of more right-to-carry and Constitutional Carry laws for law-abiding citizens while still conducting background checks but removing gun registries as they tend to lead to gun confiscations prior to committing genocide.
On April 16th, 2007 at 7:15 am, Virginia Tech senior, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 more. Bodies of students and staff members lying in pools of their own blood on the cold ground. Fear in the eyes of the students as they stare up at the psychopath rampaging through the halls and classrooms; stealing life after life with every shot from his Glock 19 and Walther P22 pistols. The massacre lasted until 9:51 am when Cho committed suicide.
With horrific instances such as the Virginia Tech massacre, what’s the point of having “gun-free zones?” Gun-free zones are “areas that can be as small as a school yard or as large as a country where only the police and military have access to firearms” [Lenn]. The Gun Free Zone Act, part of the Crime Control Act of 1990, was passed on November 29th, 1990 with then-senator Joe Biden as the bill’s sponsor [Congress]. The law was put in place to keep guns within a set distance of specific buildings (e.g. schools) in order to keep the public safe. But is the public actually safe and secure within these areas that restrict firearm possession; especially since gun violence has increased since the passing of the law in 1990? When it comes to the facts, gun-free zones do not keep people safe; instead, they turn law-abiding citizens into targets!
There are three areas where gun-free zones exist: schools, churches and entertainment facilities.
The first area is the gun free zones at schools. Schools are supposed to be safe and secure places where children and young adults can learn the skills needed to survive in the “real world”. But with instances such as the Columbine High School massacre on April 20th, 1999, which students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold carried out, left 24 people injured and 13 others murdered. The Sandy Hook Elementary incident left 27 people dead (including children between 6-7 years) and 2 injured. With other related incidents in recent years, what should be done to make sure these types of incidents never happen again, or at the very least, are decreased within our schools? Unfortunately, not all schools have metal-detectors at their entrances with security guards standing by nor consist of a budget to do so. With that said, teachers and staff should be encouraged to and, recommended to, carry guns concealed within the schools for personal safety, as well as, the safety of the students.
Schools can’t rely on law enforcement to arrive on scene in the blink of an eye. If teachers and staff are armed, they’ll have a better chance to de-escalate a situation before we go through another major incident like Columbine, Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech. Within the last few years, states have discussed legislation and/or begun to allow teachers and staff (including college students in some schools – with restrictions) to carry guns concealed on the campuses for both colleges and K-12 [Council] [Flannery]. For example, the University of Kansas began to allow concealed carry of handguns on campus on July 1st, 2017. The statistics showed that “crime decreased 13% between 2016 and 2017 with 671 criminal offenses being reported in 2017 compared to 770 incidents in 2016. Campus police also tallied zero weapons violations in 2017” [Burnett]. An issue that may arise is what if a student or an unauthorized individual gets a hold of the teacher or staff member’s firearm? Two options to prevent this is to require the handguns to be placed in biometric gun safes or to have a holster that’s geared specifically towards concealed carry which can be found at Alien Gear Holsters and Crossbreed Holsters.
In a December 2012 NPR interview, Southern Baptist leader Dr. Richard Land states “he would feel better about his grandsons if there were armed teachers in their classrooms who had some weapons training and were prepared.” Land continues on by saying that “gun-free zones are a fantasy and they’re an invitation to criminals”. He then mentions that he knows of a graduate school in Texas that took down gun-free zone signs and, as a result, crime dropped and has remained low for over a decade [Southern].
When it comes to gun-free zones within churches, the Charleston church massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is another example that such policies don’t work. The incident on June 17th, 2015 left 9 people killed and 1 injured. To prevent another incident from happening, pastors and church staff (e.g. ushers, greeters, etc.) should be required to carry concealed. Now, this raises the issue of the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”. The original meaning behind the word “kill” is “murder”. Murder is the “premeditated killing of others, which includes killing in a fit of emotion and accidentally taking the life of another” [Biblical Self-Defense]. There’s no passage in Scripture – Old nor New Testaments – that states that defending yourself and the defenseless isn’t permitted under certain circumstances (e.g. Proverbs 24:11; Psalm 82:3-4; 1 Timothy 5:8; Luke 22:36; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Exodus 22:2-3 is only one small piece of Scripture that touches on the topic of self-defense. With that said, if an individual is shooting with the intent of murdering people in a church, then the pastor and/or staff member is obligated to defend the church by bringing the perpetrator’s actions to an end. For example, in December 2019, “a man shot and killed two people during a church service in White Settlement, Texas, on Sunday morning before two members of the church security team shot and killed him” [Alonso]. Just imagine what would have happened if no law-abiding citizen with a gun was not there to stop the incident right away; how much more horrific the scene would have turned out.
In the case of entertainment facilities, the mass shooting that occurred at a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th, 2012 left 12 people dead and approximately 70 more injured over the span of 7 minutes. The shooter was James Eagan Holmes.
Based on my personal experience, I had Detroit (among other cities in the state) as part of my territory for my entertainment business. As a concealed pistol license holder in the State of Michigan, it is unlawful for me to carry my firearm (concealed or open) into sports arenas or stadiums, bar/taverns where alcohol is the primary source of income, casinos and entertainment facilities with a seating capacity of 2,500 or more just to name a few. By law, I have to have my firearm locked in a case in my vehicle. Not even the staffs within these establishments are allowed to carry firearms unless management permits it. This creates a sense of uneasiness if I’m in a location – like Detroit – where these are the types of businesses that I frequent for my job. If I’m unable to carry my firearm then the staff of these businesses should be required to carry. Along with the training and background check needed to receive a concealed pistol license, the staff in the bars, casinos and so on should also participate in random breathalyzer and drug tests to make sure they’re capable of handling the firearm when necessarily.
If you are living in a neighborhood that has high crime rates or if you’re being stalked, you wouldn’t put a sign up in front of your home saying “Gun-Free Zone” because it would attract the offender(s) to your home; similar to when a moth is hovering around a light bulb when it’s on. It’s attractive to them! The same is true between criminals and gun-free zones. According to the article “Gun-Free Zones Increase Instances of Violence” by John R. Lott, Jr., “between 1977 to 1999, multiple-victim public shooting attacks in the United States decreased by 60 percent in states with right-to-carry laws. Deaths and injuries caused by public shootings decreased by 78 percent.” Can you name of any form of “gun control” that has lowered violent crimes by a significant amount? You won’t because there are no other options! Let’s even take a look at the gun control legislation that came under Nazi Germany. In 1931, plans were discovered for a “Nazi takeover in which Jews would be denied food and persons refusing to surrender their guns within 24 hours would be executed.” The government then “authorized the registration of all firearms and the confiscation thereof, if required for ‘public safety’…In 1933, Hitler “seized power and used the records to identify, disarm, and attack political opponents and Jews. Constitutional rights were suspended, and mass searches for and seizures of guns and dissident publications ensued. Police revoked gun licenses of Social Democrats and others who were not ‘politically reliable’…Undesirables were placed in camps where labor made them “free”, and normal rights of citizenship were taken from Jews” [Halbrook]. Hitler makes his position on gun control clear by stating: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the underdog is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or police.” To provide some context, the Social Democrats were strong supporters of the Weimar Republic and democracy; whereas, the Nazis (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) opposed democracy and the republican government, as well as had strong anti-Semitism views at the core of their ideology. Along with Nazi Germany, other countries that also enacted gun bans before committing genocide in the 20th Century are “Ottoman Turkey, Soviet Union, China, Guatemala, Uganda, Rwanda and Cambodia” [Schuetz].
In Kennesaw, GA, the town law states “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.” Today, with a population of approximately 33,000 has had “one murder in the last six years and a violent crime rate of below 2%” [Jimenez]. While the statistic could change as the population increases or decreases, the premise that more right-to-carry laws for law-abiding citizens leads to decreasing crime more effectively compared to gun control legislation is what’s accurate. According to the Pew Research Center, the 2017 statistics by the CDC mention that 37% of murders, 60% of suicides and 3% of unintentional (involving law enforcement) or undetermined circumstances involved a gun in the U.S. The article also mentions that what qualifies as a “mass shooting” depends on its definition where “active shooter incidents” by the FBI is defined “as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area” which involved 85 people – excluding the shooters – in 2018 or the Gun Violence Archive where “the incidents involve four or more people – excluding the shooter – are shot or killed” involved 373 people in 2018 [Gramlich]. Regardless, the number of mass shootings that occur is only a very small percentage, contrary to what the media and politicians would like you to believe. According to a study by researchers at Northeastern University, “Since 1996, there have been 16 multiple victim shootings in schools, or incidents involving 4 or more victims and at least 2 deaths by firearms, excluding the assailant. Of these, 8 are mass shootings, or incidents involving 4 or more deaths, excluding the assailant” [Nicodemo]. Not to mention, “92% of mass shootings occurred in “gun-free” zones since 2009” [Lott]. Now, lets take a look at another country that has one of the lowest crime rate – Switzerland! According to an article in Time Magazine, “(Switzerland’s) government figures show about 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. By comparison, the U.S. rate the same year was about 5 firearm killings per 100,000 people” [Bachmann]. Granted, each country has different standards when defining mass shootings and so on. However, there’s a common principle – credit for the low crime rate is to the responsibility and safety that is passed down from generation to generation. Former President of the Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee once said “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” I can personally relate to this because I grew up around guns. Between ages 6-8, I was taught gun safety – how to hold a shotgun or rifle and how to handle with care and awareness. I also wasn’t allowed to have the guns out without my parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles around. At age 9, I began learning how to shoot with a pistol and then got my first shotgun at 10 years old. According to Swiss law, citizens and legal residents over the age of 18, who have a permit from the government and no criminal record or history of mental illness, can purchase up to three guns from an authorized dealer, except automatic firearms; whereas in Michigan, “citizens and legal residents at least 18 years, with no criminal record or history of mental illness, can purchase shotguns and rifles but aren’t allowed to purchase handguns before the age of 21 [from an authorized dealer]” [USCCA].
Gun-free zones, which is a form of gun control, was editorialized in a May 7th, 1993 issue of the Washington Times stating that “guns in private hands can be and are effective in protecting their owners from crime and in preventing crime. Criminals know this; they avoid houses and places where they think there are guns. The only people who don’t know it are the misguided and ill-informed do-gooders who want you to disarm yourself by throwing away your guns and making others throw away theirs – except the real criminals, who will not comply with these laws anyway” [Lee]. With statements like these and evidence that shows that these gun-free zones don’t work, why is it so difficult for people to further accept the truth? One reason is caused by the media in order to instill fear into the hearts and minds of those who support such ludicrous policies – that GFZ’s keep people safe. For some time, I believed that including medication for mental illness into background checks was a possible solution until I listened to an interview with Taya Kyle (widow of retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle) where she had stated “the issue of evil is within the heart which can’t be measured” [Bet-David]. For example, from a biblical perspective, Jeremiah 17:9 NLT says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” and Mark 7:21-23 NLT says “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Let’s look at the first murder in history: Cain and Abel. Cain used a rock to kill his brother Abel because he became jealous over Abel’s offering being more acceptable by God (Genesis 4:3-16). Does this mean that we should institute “rock control”? What about “knife control”? Of course not! Gun control doesn’t even work (for example, Chicago). To further add, mass murderers generally share three key characteristics: “1) the shooters experienced early childhood trauma and were exposed to violence at a young age, 2) the shooters had reached an identifiable crisis point within weeks or months leading up to the event, and 3) most shooters had studied the actions of other shooters and sought validation for their motives” [Kirchoff].
My solution: remove gun-free zones and firearm registries but continuing background checks (not to be confused with universal background checks) while implementing more right-to-carry policies, including Constitutional Carry, as guns are used approximately “100,000 times a year in self-defense in the U.S.” [Raphelson]. Plus, a 2013 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice found that “gun violence had fallen nearly 50% since its 1993 peak” [Planty]. As a society, we should encourage parents to teach their children that they shouldn’t be afraid of guns and to handle them with care, respect and discipline (granted that the child isn’t mentally ill). Furthermore, I believe that putting God back into the schools and encouraging traditional family values will decrease the crime and suicide rates, as well as not giving such horrific incidents any media attention in order to minimize similar crimes. A quote in “Get a Knife, Get a Dog, But Get Rid of Guns” by Molly Ivans says “by the time someone who studies the martial arts becomes a master – literally able to kill with bare hands – that person has also undergone years of training and discipline.” The same holds true for handling and training with a firearm. As someone who has extensive experience in both disciplines, I can honestly say that this statement is true! So, again, just because gun-free zones have been put in place with the best intentions, the evidence clearly shows that they’re not working and new policies – particularly right-to-carry and Constitutional Carry laws – should be further looked into as a solution as the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” and Article 1, sec. 6 of Michigan’s Constitution states “[e]very person has a right to keep and bear arms for the defense of himself and the state.” It’s situations, like the Nazi takeover of Germany, that the Founding Fathers wanted to prevent and President George Washington made this statement: “A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” To further add, President Thomas Jefferson said “No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” The way that I like to look at the whole firearm issue is the same way that I do when it comes to insurance: I don’t want to use it but it’s there in case I need to. I’d much rather be prepared than not prepared at all.
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