Op-ed: The False Hope of Gun-Free Zones

By Gerard Valentino
CNSNews.com Commentary
December 16, 2004

Few people remember the school shooting in Pearl, Mississippi that took place in October 1997. Fewer people remember how it ended.

This episode came to a close when Pearl High School Assistant Principal Joel Myrick sprinted a quarter mile to retrieve a personal handgun from his car and confronted the shooter who was unwilling to continue the attack against an armed victim.

Myrick parked so far away from the school to keep from violating federal gun free zone statutes. By the time the shooting spree ended, two students lay dead and seven others were wounded. Myrick's heroic defense of the children at his school was sparsely reported, going mostly unnoticed by the establishment media who were unwilling to report that he used a gun to end the mayhem and murder.

They were also unwilling to ask the hard question - how many children died while Myrick sprinted to his car?

Compare the carnage at Pearl High School with that of the Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, where a gunman murdered 22 people and wounded 18 others before turning the gun on himself. Among those at Luby's on October 16, 1991 was a woman who was licensed to carry a handgun, but obeyed the law by leaving her legally carried handgun in her car because of signs banning weapons.

At times she was within feet of the killer and instinctively reached for her gun which wasn't there. By the time it was over, her mother and father were among the dead.

Once again, the media never asked how many people were killed because the license holder was disarmed.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

Past instances of mass shootings, and common sense, teach us that when a victim resists with a firearm the violence ends quickly. Arguments claiming armed intervention by citizens leads to higher death tolls do not stand up to scrutiny. Death tolls are demonstrably higher when victims are unable to fight back as compared to cases where an armed victim resists.

It's time to ask how many more people must needlessly die before gun control activists and legislators realize that disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them easy prey to criminals. The recent massacre at a Columbus, Ohio nightclub proves yet again that so-called gun free zones only benefit criminals.

The Ohio legislature and Ohio Governor Bob Taft left everyone in that nightclub without a chance to fight for their lives because under Ohio's concealed carry law, license holders are banned from carrying in any establishment that serves alcohol - even if the licensee does not drink.

At first it sounds like good public policy to ban firearms in establishments that serve liquor. Further scrutiny however reveals that any gun free zone, including schools, restaurants, bars and government buildings offer criminals the freedom to kill with impunity.

The Columbus nightclub shooter was stopped by a city police officer who happened to be in the area and responded quickly to calls for help. However, we also know that a concealed handgun license holder was in the crowd that night, but was un-armed in accordance with the law. At times, he was less than five feet from the gunman but could do nothing.

A similar scenario unfolds in nearly every massacre committed with a firearm across the United States. Most take place in what gun-rights activists call victims-zones; areas deemed too dangerous, either by government or a private business, to allow legal firearms.

What gun-control advocates fail to grasp is criminals, by definition, do not follow the law and therefore any attempt to keep them from carrying a gun into a given establishment will fail, often with tragic results.

The goal of legislators nationwide shouldn't be to keep armed law-abiding citizens from bearing arms in restaurants, bars, schools and so forth. It should be to keep criminals with guns from entering such locations.

Posting signs designating an area as "gun free" does not keep criminals from entering with a gun; they invite criminals who know nobody can stop them.

And that is exactly what they want.

Gerard Valentino is Central Ohio Coordinator for Ohioans For Concealed Carry, and a former military intelligence analyst and staff officer.

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