Does anyone really believe ‘gun free zones’ work?

Does anyone really believe ‘gun free zones’ work?

Illinois activist Valinda Rowe says gun-free zones are "killing zones."
Illinois activist Valinda Rowe says gun-free zones are "killing zones."
Illinois activist Valinda Rowe says gun-free zones are “killing zones.”

By Dave Workman

After tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Sandy Hook, and so many other attacks that have claimed defenseless lives, it would seem that anybody with good sense would acknowledge that so-called “gun-free zones” have not worked.

In the Illinois capitol of Springfield, where on Wednesday an estimated 3,000 gun rights activists gathered for their annual IGOLD march and lobbying day, veteran gun rights activist Valinda Rowe with Illinois Carry put it rather bluntly: gun free zones are “killing zones.”

“They are fantasy-lands where we draw imaginary circles around ourselves and around our children,” Rowe said, according to the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, “and we pretend that the violent criminal and the criminally insane cannot get in to hurt us.”

When former anti-gun Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn last year launched an effort to recruit businesses in the city to declare themselves “gun-free,” one gun rights advocate dubbed them “zones of happy thoughts.”

The history of gun-free zones might be best summed up by two words: dismal failure. There is no evidence that establishing a gun-free zone anywhere has ever prevented a single crime, while there is lots of evidence to the contrary.

On Dec. 5, 2007, a gunman identified as Robert Hawkins, 19, killed eight people, wounded four others and shot himself inside the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Neb.

On Nov. 20, 2005, a gunman named Dominick Maldonado walked into the Tacoma Mall in Washington state and opened fire and wounded several people. After negotiations, Maldonado surrendered.

In February 2008, gunman Charles Lee Thornton opened fire at a meeting of the Kirkwood, Mo., city council. He killed five people including two police officers before other cops took him down.

Every school shooting in the last 20 years has occurred in a gun-free zone.

With the passage of concealed carry last year in Illinois and court victories in California that suggest carrying guns outside the home for personal protection is protected by the Second Amendment, the time may be coming when the legality of gun-free zones will be challenged in court.

Meanwhile, it appears many gun owners have personally boycotted businesses that bar firearms, and others ignore such prohibitions where they have no force of law and simply carry discreetly.

The “gun-free zone” may become the new battleground after the courts sort out whether  governments can exercise arbitrary discretion in granting or withholding carry permits and licenses. The Second Amendment Foundation has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear such a case, out of New Jersey, called Drake v. Jerejian.

For more on “gun-free” zones, read

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