Time for Schools to be Gun-free Free

Gun-free-zone prohibitions are feel-good laws. They make about as much sense as having the U.N. declare Afghanistan a war-and-Sharia-free zone or the Congo a rape-and-child-soldier-free zone and thinking we’ve accomplished something.

If there’s anything the Newtown massacre has proven, it’s that school zones billed as “gun-free” cannot be guaranteed to thus be.

They’re only virtually certain to be good-guy-gun-free.

And it’s time for this symbolism-over-substance policy to end.

The fact is that we’re making the good easy prey for the wicked, and this has been acknowledged by some current and former law-enforcement officials. As Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police Jim Kouri writes:

[F]ormer police detective Mike Snopes believes that gun free zones invite killers.

“The killer in [Newtown] came armed for bear and couldn’t care less about some gun law. The school’s anti-gun law prevented any adults working at the school from having access to a firearm. If the school’s principal had been armed and trained, she might have saved many lives. Had several people been armed at that school, the shooter, suspect Adam Lanza, would have possibly been stopped at the front door by a hale [sic] of bullets,” said the former NYPD detective.

[…]According to former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, “The [Newtown] suspect goes to the principal’s office while the announcements are playing, over the PA, to the whole school. Everyone in the school hears shots being fired. Had teachers or school employees been armed, instead of fleeing and allowing the killer to walk around the facility unimpeded, the school staff could have surrounded the madman and ended the attack….

Adding to the case against gun-free zones is NYPD Detective John Baeza, who “noted that the location of the Colorado movie theater shootings occurred at a large shopping mall that was a gun free zone,” writes Kouri.

Of course, as is the case with any individual incident, there’s no way to know precisely what would have transpired in Connecticut had the good guys not been declawed. Maybe Adam Lanza would have been stopped; maybe not. But it doesn’t matter because good policy isn’t based on individual incidents, but on what makes sense considering the full scope of an issue.

And answer me this: how can “gun-free” zones have any positive effect at all on average? People planning mass murder won’t care about a law prohibiting firearm possession in their target area. Outlawing guns in schools guarantees that only outlaws will have guns in schools.

Having gun-free zones is foolish and, to me, frankly, irritating. Why? Because they’re a prime example of the liberal tendency to subordinate substance to symbolism. Gun-free-zone prohibitions are feel-good laws. They make about as much sense as having the U.N. declare Afghanistan a war-and-Sharia-free zone or the Congo a rape-and-child-soldier-free zone and thinking we’ve accomplished something. And for this reason they aren’t just wrong-headed, but morally wrong. For there is nothing virtuous about harming society with bad policy simply because it makes you feel better about yourself.

Of course, rescinding gun-free-zone laws wouldn’t be a panacea, but it would be a move in the right direction. And advocating such helps to counter the activism of people such as Little Big Gulp (a.k.a. Mayor Michael Bloomberg), who are using the Newtown tragedy to move us in the wrong direction and further curtail Second Amendment rights. Remember that the best defense is a good offense.

Whatever we do, however, it’s seldom wise to make policy in an emotionally charged atmosphere. When passions have been stoked, it’s prudent to abide by that age-old advice to take a deep breath and count to 10 before acting. For if something truly is a good idea today, it was also a good idea six months ago — and will be six months from now.    

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