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Gun-free zones an easy target for killers
By John R. Lott, June 18th, 2015
The horrible tragedy last night that left nine people dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., probably could have been avoided. Like so many other attacks, the massacre took place in a gun-free zone, a place where the general public was banned from having guns. The gun-free zone obviously didn’t stop the killer from bringing a gun into the church.
Indeed, the circumstantial evidence is strong that these killers don’t attack randomly; they keep picking the few gun-free zones to do virtually all their attacks.
For some reason, people who would never put up a “gun-free zone” sign in front of their own homes, put up such signs for other sensitive areas that we would like to protect.
Time after time, we see that these killers tell us they pick soft targets. With just two exceptions, from at least 1950, all the mass public shootings have occurred in these gun-free zones. From last summer’s mass public killers in Santa Barbara and Canada, to the Aurora movie theater shooter, these killers made it abundantly clear in their diaries or on Facebook how they avoided targets where people with guns could stop them.
And even when concealed handgun permit holders don’t deter the killers, the permit holders stop them. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mass public shooting at a liquor store in Conyers, Ga., was stopped by a concealed handgun permit holder. A couple of people had already been killed by the time the permit holder arrived, but according to Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett:
"I believe that if Mr. Scott did not return fire at the suspect, then more of those customers would have [been] hit by a gun. It didn’t appear that he cared who he shot or where he was shooting until someone was shooting back at him. So, in my opinion, he saved other lives in that store."
- Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett
Yet, even though there was a video of this heroic action, the story got no national news coverage. Case after case occurs where concealed handgun permit holders stop what would have been mass shootings. While many don’t get news coverage because the permit holder prevents people from being killed, some, such as the recent Georgia case, still don’t get coverage even when there are dead bodies.
These heroes just don’t stop attacks in small towns in Georgia. In the last year, multiple mass public shootings in both Chicago and Philadelphia (the third and fourth largest cities in the U.S.) have been stopped.
But just as frustrating as the lack of coverage these heroes receive is the news blackout on reporting mass public shootings when killers pick places where victims are not allowed to defend themselves. While the news will go into details about how the killer got his guns or the types of weapons used (and often the initial news reports are wrong), the simplest fact would be whether the attack occurred in a gun-free zone. The gun-free zone signs are often right in front of the buildings and are seemingly impossible to miss.
The gun control debate would probably be dramatically different if even some of the news stories would occasionally mention that another attack has occurred in a gun-free zone. I have been able to find just one Associated Press story that mentions an attack occurred in a gun-free zone -- a recent attack at a mall this year in Pittsburgh.
Over the years, news editors have told me that it would be injecting politics into the coverage to mention gun-free zones. But why would that be any more political than the rest of their coverage?
Churches, like the one in Charleston, preach peace, but the killer there probably chose that target because he knew the victims were defenseless.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.
Texas passes NRA backed Open Carry legislation
The National Rifle Association claims another victory for the law-abiding gun owners of Texas with the passage of House Bill 910. This landmark open-carry legislation, now headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his expected signature, will bring the total number of states recognizing the right of open-carry to 44.
"The NRA is proud to have played a leading role in the passage of Texas open carry legislation” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox. “The passage of this common sense law expands law abiding citizens' right to exercise their constitutional freedoms and affirms Texans' long tradition of supporting the Second Amendment. On behalf of the NRA’s 5 million members, I want to thank bill sponsors Rep. Larry Phillips & Sen. Craig Estes for their tenacious fight to pass this important bill, as well as Senate and House leadership for getting this measure across the goal line."
The NRA-backed legislation removes the requirement for Concealed Handgun Licensees (CHLs) to keep their handguns concealed by giving them the option of carrying their firearm either wholly or partially visible in a belt or shoulder holster. After 20 years of of law-abiding and responsible behavior, Texas CHLs are more than capable of accepting this new level of freedom.
Passed on the final days of the 2015 Texas legislative session, HB 910 requires permit holders to be at least 21 years of age and a resident of Texas for at least six months. As of January 1, 2015, more than 800,000 Texans held concealed carry licenses.
Gun maker Colt files for bankruptcy, again!
Connecticut-based gun maker Colt Defense has filed for bankruptcy protection, as it grapples with a heavy debt load. The company says it plans to continue its normal business operations during its restructuring. The company is struggling with more than $350m in debt, as well as waning sales.
Colt's fortunes were hurt by a loss of a contact in 2013 to supply the US army with its M4 assault rifle.
Keith Maib, the company's chief restructuring officer, said in a statement: "Colt remains open for business and our team will continue to be sharply focused on delivering for our customers and being a good commercial partner to our vendors and suppliers".
Missed payment Colt has been plagued by financial problems in recent months. Last November Colt took out a $70m loan from Morgan Stanley to help make an interest payment. But last month it missed a $10m interest payment.
Last year sales of its sports rifles and handguns fell 30%. The company has a long US history, known for making American firearms for more than 150 years. The company previously filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992, emerging again two years later.
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Actually, President Obama, Mass Killings Aren’t Uncommon In Other Countries
President Barack Obama responded to the horrific shooting at a historic black church in Charleston that left nine dead with an earnest statement—well, other than that contention that was completely untrue.
"Once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."
Let’s set aside the assertion that it’s too easy to obtain guns in America and deal with the implication that we are somehow uniquely violent or that “mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” The president has made this claim in various ways and with various qualifiers.*
Parlez vous Hebdo? Because surely the president recalls that in January of this year two gunmen entered the office of a satirical magazine in France with an assortment of guns and murdered 11 people (and injured 11 more). After leaving, they killed a police officer. And in a marketplace catering to Jews another five were murdered and 11 wounded. France is, allegedly, an advanced country, is it not? Perhaps if Obama had attended the anti-terror rally in Paris like every other leader of advanced countries did, his recollection would be sharper.
It only takes some quick research to discover that rampage killers, acts of terror (as the Charleston shooting most certainly is), school attacks, spree killers are not unique to the United States.
In 2011, a deranged Anders Behring Breivik killed eight people by setting off a van bomb in Oslo, before going on to murder 69 more people, mostly children, at a summer camp. This is the single worst shooting spree incident in history. Obama surely remembers that he left the White House and visited the Norwegian ambassador’s residence to offer his condolences.
It takes only a rudimentary search to find out that mentally unstable killers can be found anywhere. In February of this year, nine people were killed in Czech Republic spree killing. In Erfurt, Germany, a couple of years ago, an expelled student murdered 13 teachers, 2 students and a policeman. That same year, in the Serbian village of Velika Ivanča, a gunman shot and killed 14 people—many of them his own relatives— and a Russia gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle killing six people. A couple of years before that, in England, a lone gunman killed 12 people and injured 11.
Advanced countries or developing ones, it’s the same thing. In 2013 a mentally unstable man in Rio de Janeiro killed 12 children and seriously wounded another 12. And you might remember that China had an outbreak of mass stabbings, hammer and cleaver attacks not long ago. You don’t need guns to kill people. One man stabbed 22 children by himself. Two attackers killed 29 people and injured 143 at Chinese railway station last year.
It should be noted that not that long ago advanced nations in Europe were busy throwing people into ovens or starving millions on purpose. The idea that violence is uniquely American is best left to fringe leftists on college campuses. Moreover, as The Associate Press reported in 2012, many experts contend that mass shootings are not growing in frequency at all. One has data that shows that mass shootings reached their peak in 1929 and have declined steadily since. Overall, gun violence (in the US) has also been declining since 1993.
Now, even one shooting is a tragedy. What happened in Charleston is horrifying and heartbreaking, and there’s nothing wrong with having a debate about how to avoid shootings in the future. As for the frequency of these events, there can be a host of reasons why we might have more rampages. Maybe we’re freer and this puts us in more danger. Maybe we need better mental health policies. Maybe, as the president argues, we have access to too many guns. I don’t think so, but make that argument rather than trying to score political points with a falsehood.
*Update: Most of the pushback on social media claims that I’m being unfair to Obama. The president, they argue, is saying that we have a higher frequency of shootings, not that mass shooting are a predominately American event. (Even then, he might not be right.)
It’s clear Obama is stressing separate points, and without doubt the perception he’s trying to create is that this type of “mass” violence is something that almost never happens anywhere else. It’s nothing new for him.
At the very best, as Politifact might put it, his comments are half true. I’ve gone back and read Obama’s remarks over the years on gun issues and he’s always tossing around this idea. Sometimes he interchanges mass violence and all gun violence. Sometimes he compares us to the “developed world” and sometimes he compares us to the “advanced world”— it’s difficult to understand what countries he’s talking about. But he doesn’t always throw a qualifier in about frequency or anything else.
So if you don’t like the quote today, here is one from last year:
My biggest frustration has been that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage. We are the only developed country on earth where this happens. And that it happens now once a week. And it’s a one day story.”
This “society” has a problem. We are the only developed country on earth where this happens. Untrue.
David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist.
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