Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do Mass Shootings Usually Happen in Gun-Free Zones?

The short answer is "no."

In spite of the fact that the major incidents like Columbine and VA Tech took place at school campuses which prohibit guns, most mass shootings do not fit this profile. We have daily examples of this like the Detroit shooter who turned himself into the fire station.

The real problem with this very popular pro-gun lie is that it seeks to connect the worst incidents of gun violence with gun-free places, the implication being that rageful mass killers seek out these places for their target-rich environment.  In many cases it's more than implied.  Gun-rights fanatics often claim outright that this is what happens. Their intention is to eliminate gun restrictions wherever possible.

The fact is, when a person decides to go on a shooting rampage, he goes to the place of his grievance.  Sometimes this happens to be a gun-free zone, as in the case of school shooters, but more often than not, it's someone's workplace, or the local mall, or a residence. It has nothing to do with the status of gun availability.  In fact many of these deranged people are on suicide missions so why would they care if there'd be resistance?
mass shooting (n.): a number of shootings, typically four or more, that occur during the same incident with no distinctive time lapse between them. Defining violent crimes is a grisly job, but academics and law enforcement officials have to do it. The qualifier of four shootings correlates to the FBI’s working definition of “mass murder,” which has historically used the same threshold.
So, whenever we hear the pro-gun crowd claim that mass shootings usually, or always, happen in gun-free zones, it's a double lie. The claim itself is untrue and its implication is also untrue.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. It's never been my contention that mass shooters actively seek out Gun Free Zones. I agree with you—mass shooters are completely unconcerned with whether or not a location is a Gun Free Zone.

    Which is specifically why Gun Free Zones are completely pointless and useless in preventing crimes like these, but may enhance them, as law abiding citizens who might otherwise be armed and able to respond or defend themselves are left helpless.

    Two things we know for a fact: A gun owner who follows the law is disarmed in a Gun Free Zone. A psychotic bent on murdering people is not disarmed in a Gun Free Zone.

    Gun Free Zones are at best benign, and at worst, increase casualties. They have no mechanism for making the people within them safer.

    1. Guav, the point of gun free zone restrictions, as well as many other gun control laws, is not to stop the criminals but to stop the law abiding. The reason they don't want guns on campuses is because their presence would interfere with the professor/student relationship. Also, it's to prevent what happens everywhere else guns are legally allowed, the occasional gun owner who takes out his marital problems on those around him.

    2. "Also, it's to prevent ... the occasional gun owner who takes out his marital problems on those around him."

      How in the hell would it prevent that?

      You've already established that "when a person decides to go on a shooting rampage, he goes to the place of his grievance" regardless of whether it is a Gun Free Zone or not, and we all agreed with you. Obviously, a Gun Free Zone is not going to prevent the scenario you just illustrated.

    3. "the point of gun free zone restrictions ... is ... to stop the law abiding. ... to prevent ... the occasional gun owner who takes out his marital problems on those around him."

      So we trust the gun owner who will violate murder laws will honor a no gun sign on a door ... Um kay. And I have a bridge to sell you MikeB.

    4. Anonymous and Guav, stop pretending the guys who go off the deep end are rational and thinking human beings. They are not. And when they crack, if there's a gun handy, the results are much, much worse.

    5. Guav says, "You've already established that "when a person decides to go on a shooting rampage, he goes to the place of his grievance" regardless of whether it is a Gun Free Zone or not, and we all agreed with you."

      Thanks for that, but let's linger for a moment on that agreement on your part. It was hard won. The general pro-gun position is that spree shooters choose GFZs for their target-rich environment, the implication being it's the fault of the gun control laws.

      The way you said you all agreed sounded like you've all agreed all along, which I'm, afraid was not the case.

    6. 1. People don't just snap and start shooting others all that often. The more common incident is like what we saw in that video from Ocala, FL. A couple of thugs burst in and wave guns around.

      2. We've seen people snap and go home to fetch their guns. There are all kinds of snapping. In the Tucson and Aurora incidents, the lunatics were rational enough to plan, but crazy enough to believe that they were doing the right thing.

      3. Gun-free zones offer no protection. Crazies are rare. What a gun-banning sign does is disarm the good people who work to follow the law. Whether all mass shootings happen in gun-free zones doesn't matter. The point here is that banning guns from a building or a piece of property is exactly the kind of rule that you like--it makes weak-minded people feel good without stopping any criminal or nutcase from acting.

    7. Mike, stop pretending that guys who go off the deep end just start shooting everyone around them are a statistically significant portion of homicides in this country.

    8. The unfortunate incident with the Batman Movie....there were 8 movie theatres in the area showing Batman within 20 minutes of eachother, one was closer to the killer's apartment than the one he chose. But only one had a no gun ban in effect...the one he chose to shoot up. It's pretty obvious that he intentionally went out of his way to go to the ONE place that he was sure no one would be able to fight back.
      Not to mention, if you ban guns, then there will be a black market and the bad guys will be even more wealthy. Our war machine couldn't remove all the guns from one city in Iraq, what do you think will happen if you try that in America?

    9. That's the first time I heard that all the other theaters allowed guns and Holmes chose this particular one because it was a gun free zone. Sorry, but I'm callin' bullshit on that one.

  2. MikeB does a nice job illustrating that criminals attack everywhere; no place is "sacred".

    I am a self-defense advocate. I have a right to be able to defend my family and myself whether I am in my home, a forest, a park, a grocery store, a school, church, or whatever. The problem: Gun Free Zones prevent me from being able to defend myself during an attack ... and yet do nothing to limit criminals when they attack.

    Gun Free Zones do absolutely nothing to make us safer while making us more vulnerable. That is why I don't want them.

  3. Thanks for acknowledging that crazy people will do what they want to do, despite what the law says. There's no point to a gun-free zone when it can't accomplish the job that it claims to be able to do.

    1. Greg, as I just explained to Guav, that's not what gun free zones claim to do.

    2. Your "explanation" made no sense. I have had several students with carry licenses. They and I didn't feel a problem relating to each other. I relate well with my other students, too.

      You said that a gun-free zone is to control the law-abiding. Why can't you see that we're exactly the group that you don't have to fear? In addition, why can't you see that banning guns from an area will not stop guns from being there? A gun-free zone merely disarms the people who pose the least risk of causing harm--typical bass-ackward bureaucratic thinking.

    3. The discription of mass shooting largely depend on who is talking about them. Those that involve more than one some would call a mass shooting, others would call a multiple shooting, not mass.

      Mass shootings usually involve a group of captured and defenseless people like in a church, school, a park, theater, offices and such. You know, gun free zones. Mass shooting are called what they are as the shooter kills indescriminatly, no intended tatget other than as many people as possible. Multiple shooting involve targets and who may get in the way of their target.

      Mass shootings and multiple shootings are very different.