Some of the most shocking crimes involving firearms in recent years have been those perpetrated at schools where the victims are children. These crimes capture the public and media’s attention like no other and are quickly followed by cries from the anti-gun crowd demanding “something” be done to stop the bloodshed. Certain politicians afraid of not wanting to look feckless in front of their constituents often propose legislation that looks like a good idea on the surface, but in practice does little to change anything and usually tramples on the rights of the law abiding overwhelming majority.
Gun free zones such as schools, and churches, civic buildings do not make the people inside them safer. Gun free zones provide an illusion of safety. Perception, that’s it. Clustering unarmed civilians together presumes no one from the outside with a gun can enter this “gun free zone” when they want to. It presumes that this zone is safer than outside the zone. This is not always the case. It presumes that a criminally deranged person would respect a sign that said “gun free zone”. Unless these zones are guarded and protected with people trained to meet force with force, providing a place where no one is armed except the bad guy is not a good idea. In almost every case within recent memory where active shooters took lives they were stopped when the shooter was confronted by others who were armed whether it was police or private citizens. A bad man with a gun is only stopped by a good guy with a gun.
When gun free zones were created they provided something tangible that community organizers and politicians could point to and say “there, we did something to end the bloodshed”. But they do not and the blood shed continues because guns are not the real problem. Our society is sick, increasingly detached and lacking in compassion. The mentally ill willing to kill as many people as they possibly can, including themselves, is the problem. The really sad part is many of these mentally ill are children too.
I would argue gun-free zones in addition to being legislatively prohibited are for many organizations the result of a risk management decision too. Does the school, church or business want to risk being sued by gunshot victims? Insurance companies are deciding this for these organizations by either not providing coverage or making the expense for covering such things exorbitant. So as in a lot of cases, money is a mitigating factor. Instead of allowing people the right to defend themselves they are prohibited for liability reasons. A quick fix to this is tort reform but that discussion is for another day.
The call for banning guns or severely limiting them outright I think is becoming more vocal due to some demographic changes in America. As our population continues to increase centered around large city clusters instead of rural communities more and more people are growing up with no tradition or familiarity with firearms except what they watch on television or see in video games. They also have grown accustom to government providing for their safety and comfort.
Hunting, a traditional American past time that produced marksman of renown is in decline in America. When the source of fresh meat is two blocks down and one block up at the local grocery chain the need to hunt for fresh food is obsolete to most Americans.
Also the expense of purchasing a firearm, buying ammunition and finding a safe place to shoot for recreation has to compete with other easier entertainment options. For a city dweller with limited resources, restrictive laws and few places to shoot a firearm seems like an expensive luxury.
Still to others not brought up around firearms or having had the honor of serving in our military, guns represent only destruction and death. The very appearance of a gun in someone’s possession that’s not wearing either a military or police uniform creates irrational fear. My mother is one of these people. I have interviewed people that feel this way too. A very high level government official I once interviewed told me he had a neighbor who had a concealed carry permit and he was truly puzzled why anyone would carry a firearm in public or concealed and thought his neighbor mentally insecure. I had to remind them that we have a 2nd Amendment but he clearly came from the school of thought that says only militia’s should have guns not individuals. I had to bite my tongue for most of the rest of that interview but clearly there is a conflict in the people’s perceptions of firearms in this country.
I come from the school of thought that says government’s responsibility is to protect my individual rights and the rights of the community of individuals. That includes my right to carry a firearm anywhere I think it’s needed for my defense. Obviously there are many Americans who do not believe in individual rights anymore and disagree and are willing to give up their right of self-defense for a false sense of security provided by government.
Everyone who owns a firearm should exercise personal responsibility for that firearm and insure that it is not accessible to those who should not have it in their possession. If this means locking it up when children are present or keeping it on your person so be it. I am not a big fan of keeping a firearm always locked up in a safe or out of reach as what good will that do when the firearm is needed to protect loved ones or property. It is an individual judgment call based upon the circumstances and not a decision for some politician who wants to make points with his fearful constituency.