Las Vegas gun-free-zone shooting: ‘Run, hide, fight’ — with what?
As details emerge about Wednesday’s deadly triple shooting at the University of Nevada campus in Las Vegas, the Washington Post is reporting that the university sent out an alert urging everyone to “evacuate to a safe place. RUN-HIDE-FIGHT.”
But a look at Nevada statute regarding the possession of dangerous weapons on property belonging to the State System of Higher Education reveals that firearms, dirks, daggers, switchblades, blackjacks, billy clubs, metal (brass) knuckles, or even a pneumatic gun are all prohibited.
So what, exactly, were people on campus expected to “fight” with?
There have been efforts in many states to allow lawful concealed carry on college campuses when students or staff are licensed to carry. College administrators are typically against the idea.
ABC News is reporting the suspected killer was 67-year-old Anthony Polito, who had previously been a professor at colleges in North Carolina and Georgia. He was armed with a handgun and was fatally shot by university police, according to published reports. The news agency said Polito had applied for a position at the university but was not hired. It is not clear at this point whether the victims were specifically targeted.
Yet, President Joe Biden declared in a statement from the White House, reacting to the shooting, “Republican lawmakers must join with Democrats in Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pass a national red flag law, enact universal background checks, require the safe storage of guns, and advance other commonsense measures that will help stem the tide of gun violence.”
Alan Gottlieb at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms dismissed Biden’s remarks as the same gun control rhetoric he has used before, whether it matched the facts of a specific crime or not.
A report by the National Institute of Justice revealed that Biden’s insistence that such a ban will bring down mass shooting deaths is at best misguided. The report noted, “analyses using a variety of national and local data sources found no clear ban effects on certain types of murders that were thought to be more closely associated with the rapid-fire features of assault weapons and other semiautomatics equipped with large capacity magazines. The ban did not produce declines in the average number of victims per incident of gun murder or gun murder victims with multiple wounds.”
The BBC and other news agencies have noted that the late-morning attack left one other victim wounded. The Guardian noted that the Gun Violence Archive says there have been “more than 630 mass shootings in the U.S. this year,” based on how they define such an event.
But the Washington Post says there have only been 39 mass shootings so far this year in the United States, based on different criteria.
The deadly attack came on the same day Senate Republicans were able to prevent anti-gun Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) from passing a ban on so-called “assault weapons” via unanimous consent. Schumer has been trying to ban modern semiautomatic rifles for decades, same as Biden.
The Second Amendment Foundation announced it would take swift legal action against such a ban, should it ever become law. SAF noted it already has eight active challenges to such bans at state level, including the case of Bianchi v. Frosh in Maryland. That case was already granted certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court which remanded it back to the 4th U.S. District Court of Appeals for reconsideration following the 2022 Bruen ruling, which set specific guidelines on how Second Amendment cases must be considered.
The other SAF cases are Hartford v. Ferguson (Washington state), Harrel v. Raoul (7th Circuit), Lane v. James (New York), Gray v. Jennings (3rd Circuit), Grant v. Lamont (Connecticut), Viramontes v. The Cook County, Ill. (N.D. Illinois – sitting on Summary Judgment), and Miller v. Bonta (9th Circuit).
But the Las Vegas campus shooting and the university’s alert to students draws attention to what many consider are ridiculous firearms prohibitions, which essentially turn them into low- to no-risk environments for killers to launch rampages. When regulations or state laws prohibit the lawful carry of defensive arms, it is impossible for people to fight back against an armed attacker. Had there not been quick action by two campus police officers in Las Vegas, the incident could have been far worse.