by Elliot Fineman
CEO – Founder
National Gun Victims Action Council
December 22, 2016
While campaigning for office this summer, Donald Trump, the NRA’s candidate, blamed gun violence on “gun-free zones.” For example, the 90 who died in the Bataclan theater in Paris last year would be alive today if they had been armed he said. (He did not explain how, in the dark, the 1,000 people in the audience—having pulled their guns out—would know the good guys holding guns from the bad—and not shoot each other, or innocent bystanders. Nor did he explain how untrained carriers would shoot accurately when studies show that fully trained police officers in the U.S. miss 7 out of 10 shots.)
Nor would the Charlie Hebdo staff, also gunned down in Paris, have stopped the bad guys if they had been armed admitted a pro-gun group that restaged the massacre in Dallas a week after the January 7, 2015 shootings. At least nine states have now passed laws allowing civilian carriers to have no training at all—it’s an infringement of “gun rights”—yet carriers without any skills are expected to keep environments safe.
Trump also blamed the 2015 murders of four Marines and a Navy sailor by Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez at Chattanooga military posts on gun-free zones though he was embarrassingly wrong. (Military Times says, “At least two service members involved in the Chattanooga shooting were carrying personal weapons during the attack, in possible violation of current military rules, and unsuccessfully returned fire in an attempt to stop the homicidal gunman.”)
Trump and the gun lobby are shockingly silent when they can’t blame violence on “gun-free zones” as in the shooting of 18 police officers last summer in Baton Rouge and Dallas. Weren’t they “good guys with guns”?
Gun-Free Zones Provide The Safest Environments
Trump and the gun lobby are also shockingly silent on the most well-established gun-free zones in the world—corporate boardrooms and headquarters. No major corporation in the U.S.—including the NRA— permits guns in its corporate headquarters and boardrooms. Why? Because guns in an environment make that environment dangerous.
Metal detectors, guards and secure building floors thwart any gun carriers from getting near corporate officers. When was the last time anyone heard about a shooting in those very dangerous “gun-free zones” known as corporate headquarters?
Of course, virtually all of these same corporations that shield their officers from gun risks allow their employees and customers to face them by permitting guns in their stores and outlets.
Yelling “gun-free zone” lets zealots ignore the element of surprise that kills so many heroic law enforcers. Instead, they pretend that everyday armed citizens can do what law enforcers do. President Reagan’s own highly trained Secret Service couldn’t stop him being shot—but armed teachers, students and school staff will stop shooters? Dream on, gun advocates.
Carrying Guns Does Not Provide Self-Defense
We at NGVAC have tested gun self-defense with 77 volunteers at the Prince George’s County police department in Maryland with Mount St. Mary’s University crime researchers in the most exhaustive study of gun self-defense to date. Civilians, even with their guns drawn (so they would not lose time retrieving them from holsters), were unable to approach the accuracy and judgment of trained police officers in all scenarios—including highly trained civilians. They were “killed” despite their weapons, failed to stop the bad guys and even “shot” at bad guys who were unarmed.
Civilians didn’t even take cover reported the Washington Post on our research. “They didn’t attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy — they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough — they didn’t shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.”
In Trump’s and the NRA’s upside-down world, gun-free zones are the cause of gun violence not guns: more guns in more places make us safer they say. Yet numerous studies show just the opposite is true—but, of course, those are only facts.
National Gun Victims Action Council