The Trouble with Gun Free Zones

In many ways, a gun-free zone sounds like a dream come true. Businesses would be less prone to violent crimes because firearms would be nonexistent, and “suicides, unintentional firearm injuries and deaths, and mass shootings” would be minimized if not eliminated altogether. That’s the theory anyway. But what sounds good in theory doesn’t necessarily translate to reality. Such is the case with gun-free zones (GFZs). Our lawmakers’ hearts are in the right place, but when we consider the mindset of a criminal, it’s easy to see why theory and reality don’t always align.

A Practical Definition of a Gun-Free Zone

Most citizens recognize that weapons are not permitted in certain places. The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act, originally enacted in 1990 and revised and reenacted in 1996, means even if you have a CCW permit, you may not be able to carry your weapon “within 1000 feet of any K-12 school,” depending on the rules in your state. Other federal laws make carrying your weapon illegal, especially on federal property, including federal buildings, courthouses, prisons, post offices, military bases, and national cemeteries and their parking lots. Other locations like airports, bars, and hospitals are also on the list in most states. And depending on where you live, other buildings are designated as GFZs, like the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA, a county building, where the 2015 terrorist shooting occurred.

The Trouble with Statistics

Try to find irrefutable evidence connecting mass shootings and gun-free zones, and you’ll come up empty-handed. Arguments are made on both sides of the aisle regarding a correlation, but the truth is, the data is fuzzy. Part of the problem stems from the way things like “gun-free zone” and “mass shooting” are defined. There isn’t a set definition, so it’s difficult to discern if GFZs are targeted by criminals.

A Law Is Not a Guarantee

The law assumes that everyone will follow the rules, but when or where has that ever happened? In this case, thinking like a criminal makes sense. Most people follow the law because it’s the right thing to do, but someone looking to commit a crime doesn’t think that way. A criminal hopes to break the law without getting caught or without being harmed. A gun-free zone may, in fact, become a target due to the lack of potentially armed citizens who could respond and intervene.

Imposed Vulnerability Without Advanced Protective Measures

If you work in a gun-free zone, you have to depend upon others to protect you. But what if additional protection is nowhere to be found? “Louis Klarevas, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, defines ‘gun-free zones’ as places where civilians are not allowed to carry guns, and [where] there aren’t armed personnel stationed on the property.” By being forced to give up the right to arm yourself, you’re literally giving up your self-protection rights!

The Inevitable Delayed Response

In most locations, when a crime takes places, there is a lag between the crime itself and law enforcement’s response. Our officers do their best to get on scene as fast as possible, but if you’re allowed to carry your weapon and are in a situation to use it to minimize a threat or defend yourself and others, you may be the first line of defense. You have the ability to change the outcome of the event, especially when wearing Cacharme’s Concealed Carry Blazer, which keeps your weapon handy and undetectable. In gun-free zones, this isn’t the case. You have to wait for someone else to intervene (or get creative by using whatever objects you have at your disposal). If we’re not carrying, who’s protecting us?

The Element of Surprise Is a Deterrent

Conflicting data aside, the element of surprise should still be a factor in this argument. Certainly, there are gun related crimes where specific targets were sought that have nothing to do with mass shootings. However, the fact remains that knowing there may be someone armed in the vicinity that could stop an attack has some merit. In some GFZs, CCWs are still not permitted, but as the laws continue to evolve (as the demand for CCW permits increases), criminals will be less able to pick targets where they won’t be confronted by someone carrying a firearm.

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While we’d all like to believe that a law of any kind will make us safer, rule breakers don’t care one way or another. What’s going to happen will happen and being able to assume the worst and prepare for it makes good sound sense. We don’t know for sure if criminals specifically seek out GFZs to commit crimes, but the justification for carrying securely and discreetly on body remains the same: it gives you an opportunity to protect yourself and others should an incident arise when you’re in harm’s way. The GFZ element may not be a factor, but it certainly takes away a level of protection that you could have otherwise had if allowed to arm yourself legally.