December 14th, 2012

Gun-Free Zones: A Vacuum of Logic and Lawful Defense

Today’s senseless and tragic murder of over two dozen innocent people in a Connecticut school once again brings into focus the ease with which irrational or mentally unstable individuals can cause others harm. And, unsurprisingly, this horrific event serves as fodder for the gun control lobby to call for tighter regulations of the weapons used in this crime.

Their advocacy is misguided. It’s important to note that criminals, by definition, are not concerned with laws. Prohibiting the use of guns in a certain place, or making it a crime to use a magazine that contains a certain number rounds, or any number of other regulations only serve as impediments for peaceful, law-abiding individuals looking to defend themselves. And while many of these regulations are little more than an annoyance, such as delaying the waiting time for a person to receive their gun after a background check, some of the prohibitions prove fatal.

This is the case with so-called “gun free zones,” whereby legislatures or other entities outright prohibit the possession and/or use of a gun in a certain geographical area. Sadly, many of the recent mass murders have all occurred in such places. Ft. Hood, the Aurora movie theater, Trolley Square, Virginia Tech, the Oregon mall shooting just days ago—these and a depressingly long list of mass shootings share a common trait in that they occurred in locations where access to guns was severely restricted if not completely prohibited. Economist John Lott explains further:

It is not just recent killings that are occurring in these gun-free zones. The Columbine High School shooting left 13 murdered in 1999; Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, had 23 who were fatally shot by a deranged man in 1991; and a McDonald’s in Southern California had 21 people shot dead in 1984.

Nor are these horrible incidents limited to just gun-free zones in the U.S. In 1996, Martin Bryant killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Australia. In the last half-dozen years, European countries — including France, Germany and Switzerland — have experienced multiple-victim shootings. The worst in Germany resulted in 17 deaths; in Switzerland, one attack claimed the lives of 14 regional legislators.

At some point you would think the media would notice that something is going on here, that these murderers aren’t just picking their targets at random. And this pattern isn’t really too surprising. Most people understand that guns deter criminals.

If a killer were stalking your family, would you feel safer putting a sign out front announcing, “This home is a gun-free zone”? But that is what all these places did.

In the case of Connecticut where today’s shootings occurred, the trend is consistent: teachers and educational personnel in that state are generally prohibited from carrying a gun to defend themselves and the students in their care.

It is natural to respond to these types of situations with rhetorical or probing questions regarding what can be done to prevent future occurrences. Enacting more restrictions on the access to guns only exacerbates the very condition that has allowed these mass murderers to implement their carnage. Gun control doesn’t work; criminals will always find a way to do their nefarious needs, as a Chinese attacker demonstrated today by killing many people with a knife.

As I explain in the self-defense chapter of Latter-day Responsibility, stories like these generate massive news coverage because they are shocking and tragic and captivate our collective attention. But roughly two million successful uses of a gun in self-defense occur annually in America, and very, very few of these stories ever make the news. Gun-wielding individuals either prevent a mass murder while the number of victims is low, or they defend themselves against an attacker before he can commit his evil deed—whatever the case, the ability to deter a threat with a gun prevents the very circumstances being plastered all over the media today.

Many innocent people died today, and we should mourn their loss. In the wake of such a tragedy, we should fight back against the idiotic cry for further gun control and demand the repeal of laws that infringe upon the individual right to lawful defense. In short, we should restore logic and common sense to correct what has proven to be an insane policy of gun-free zones.

20 Responses to “Gun-Free Zones: A Vacuum of Logic and Lawful Defense”

  1. Clumpy
    December 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Just to play devil’s advocate here (I’m not a supporter of gun control), gun-free zones aren’t the same thing as societies in which guns are restricted in some way more generally. Even some gun-control advocates would probably agree that in a society with access to guns, but certain locations wherein guns are prohibited, you’re less safe in those areas. But they’d be trying to reduce the prevalence of guns in general, not just in particular buildings or campuses.

    In point of fact I think that our focus on gun control is a red herring; terrorism, mass shootings, and the like occur quite infrequently, but occupy a lot of our emotional mental real estate. We often worry about being struck by a lightning bolt more than a car, or a masked intruder than a stroke. As usual the mundane stuff will kill us before the stuff we can actually work up the energy to talk about.

    The only argument for gun control that I find salient is the proportionality between firearm access and suicide rates (suicide killing something like six times more people per year than die by shooting). I have some anxiety and know several people who have had depression to the point of suicidal thoughts, and when you’re on the inside of one of those episodes your decision-making apparatus is literally broken. Perhaps given the crisis aversion tool firearms can be, a fix to this problem would come more from public understanding of mental illness, appropriate treatment, and a decision by families of whether a gun is going to be more of a risk than an asset in their household.

  2. Jon
    December 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    What we should be combating is what causes lunacy in the first place. Child abuse. We need to help others around us learn that it is not OK to spank or otherwise traumatize our children. If we did this there would be no more republicans nor democrats to encroach on our freedoms nor would there be so many lunatics, because people would not want to live in a society where it is OK to use the initiation of force.

  3. Clumpy
    December 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Jon, I think mental illness is a much broader and more ambiguous issue than just something directly caused by child abuse. According to studies you’re going to be more vulnerable to mental illness if you faced abuse as a child, but that’s just one of the factors. I agree with you that corporal punishment in homes is not appropriate, though I’m not sure how that relates entirely to the issue that I was discussing.

  4. Josh
    December 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Connor, can you point me/us to the source for that self-defense incident statistic? I’d like to be able to use that to help persuade any friends or acquaintances who may be tempted by the siren song of gun control.

  5. Jon
    December 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm #


    I agree that mental illness isn’t always caused by child abuse at home and not all people that are abused will lash out. But I disagree that making the home a safe environment for children (even outside of home) would do more to promote liberty and a safe environment from mentally ill people.

    I think if we looked at these cases more closely one would see a pattern of abuse to the children. Children raised without violence in their lives wouldn’t be able to commit such atrocities as adults. And yes, you can find studies stating, more or less, what I just wrote.

  6. jimx
    December 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Thats a leap of logic to make a case against gun control by using an example of someone using a knife. If that person had used a gun, that incident more than likely would have been far worse. If that person had access to a missle launcher the outcome far greater worse. If nuclear weapons, the entire city and then some would have been destroyed.

    Will you still believe gun control limitations are bad when someone you love gets shot? I will be wanting to read about why the Connecticut mother thought she needed a gun. Its a big responsibility, and I think most people underestimate that. There is ‘karma’ associated with any weapon, or poisonous thinking. If you have ever watched the series ‘A thousand ways to die’ there are many examples of accidental death associated with guns. Either hunting, or people believing that they are needed for protection. I haven’t had any occation in my life where I really needed one, and I have lived in some pretty awful areas. I hope that I never need one.

    This issue makes me think of people who also get really nasty dogs for protection. They bark at inappropriate times, make a lot of mess, and create an unfriendly environment for visitors. Sometimes they attack their own owners.

    Its nice to believe that this event would have been prevented if everyone else had a gun, but who do you believe should be allowed to carry one? Should the children be allowed to have their own gun? The janitors working in the school, the principle, the crossing guards, bus drivers? would they all be knowledgeable in appropriate use? what about the environement that would be created with everyone armed?

  7. Jon
    December 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm #


    You make a good case for Ordered Anarchy. The body count for private murders in the world was about 8 million in the 20th century. The body count for government killings? Over 200 million.

    Who was it that said, when asked was it worth the 500,000 deaths of innocent children in Iraq due to the US economic sanctions, something along the lines of, it was well worth it?

    Now we see who are the real crazy people in the world. Far more dangerous than the lunatic that killed those innocent children in the school house.

  8. jpv
    December 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    Amen, Jon. Obama sheds no crocodile tears for the dozens of children he has bombed with drones.


    Studies show that gun ownership increases suicide by gun, but does not statistically increase suicide by all methods (i.e. people with guns may be more likely to use that for suicide, but those that don’t have one can find methods just as easy–run a car in the garage, etc.)

  9. jimx
    December 16, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Nice try, but you didn’t address anything I stated.

    What about George Bush?

    I imagine this will be something neither one of you will be willing to watch, but the collective hypocrasy of the United States is very deep. I watched it, and found it very revealing, I think its worth it to have some decentering. And I can predict exactly what will be said in response. I will be watching to see what you say, if you manage to watch the entire video.

  10. Jon
    December 16, 2012 at 8:27 am #


    It appears you live in the left right paradigm. I would categorize myself as a anarchist libertarian (AKA voluntaryist). Bush was just as bad as Obama (actually Obama is worse because he has expanded on all the bad things Bush did – and since Obama is a democrat the democrats don’t push back on war, etc, anymore).

    You didn’t give any good reason to watch the video. My time is precious. If you want me to watch the video you should give a short summary and then ask us to watch it. If it is something I know about already I’ll skip watching it.

    Yes, I didn’t actual consider your argument. I just showed you the hypocrisy of those that say there should be no gun rights for the individual while saying governments should have guns, when the people that hurt and kill more people is the “government” (better described as the state). It’s like focusing on a splinter in ones finger while ignoring the steal beam going through your leg, why are we talking about a splinter when there is a beam going through your leg?

    Either way the solution is the same for both problems. Bring up children in peace and love and not teaching them to worship false idols like the military, the “government,” and man – AKA stop worshiping the state.

  11. jimx
    December 16, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Great point, the video doesn’t center on guns, actually I would have to watch it again to see if it even ever touches the topic. It does however mention the constitution, and says that we aren’t living the principles of the constitution. I don’t know enough about the Jeuche idea, but its claimed that the consitution has the same principle. It also questions what is meant by ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’ etc…and points out that we are under the illusion that we have that. I like living in the states, its a culture I grew up in, and I don’t know if I could live anywhere else, but I think we are just out of control with things in our life that perhaps we don’t really need.

    Its a very interesting topic. I am just scared that people seem to imply that if you don’t have a gun your unpatriotic. I don’t want to be forced to have something I don’t think I need. Having that in my home would ironically make me feel ‘vulnerable’. I am sure from a gun supporters view that doesn’t make sense, as that makes them feel secure.

    But if one looks closely I think everyone believes in some sort of limit on weaponry. Here are a few visuals that would help make my point.

    An 8 year old with a gun, is that constituional?

    The constitution doesn’t specify guns, but the right to bear arms. That is, what can be carried on ones person for personal self defense?

    An Anti-Aircraft Guided Missile Launcher, is that constitutional? Probably not, as the photo shows a soldier holding it. I am assuming aiming at an airplane. More like national security. But it is a weapon that one could ‘bear’.

  12. Jon
    December 16, 2012 at 9:43 am #


    I don’t own a gun either. At this time it doesn’t really interest me. I do appreciate people that do own them and use them responsibly.

    I think a person should own whatever weaponry they want, as long as they don’t use it unwisely (i.e., break the non-aggression principle).

    But in reality. If we are to be a free people we need to live by certain ethics (based on the non-aggression principle as the core axiom). If we live by those ethics we will be free and those that choose not to will be handled accordingly, but there wouldn’t be that many people.

    I think as statism increases people become less responsible. As statism decreases people become more responsible. A catch-22.

    As for the emotional side. You can find pictures on both sides of the argument. You can find kids that treat guns responsibly and kids that don’t. You can find people that are protected by guns and people that could have been protected by guns, if they had them. I leave that up to the individual, as long as they use it responsibly – as the OP talked about.

    I really don’t care what “everybody” thinks. What I care about is what is right and what is wrong and how we should treat other people. With love. Politics as practiced today is the opposite of love and is the great cause of contention.

  13. jimx
    December 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Great point, not everyone believes in gun limitations. Perhaps some people think that everyone should have one, perhaps several.

    So there should be no criteria for gun ownership? Maybe just the desire to have one? I never thought about this, what about the manufacture of guns? I would hate to have one explode in my hand, that does happen. Its a chance that anyone takes when they use a gun.

    Are you serious? “I think a person should own whatever weaponry they want, as long as they don’t use it unwisely.” Nuclear weapons, machine guns, missle launchers? Are those really for personal protection? I think those would be for national protection. I don’t know who I would be protecting myself from if I had nuclear weapons.

    My brother had/has a gun, but its really odd now that I notice something. He actually started needing it after obtaining one. I don’t recall him over having any trouble until he became a gun owner. I have never had any reason or trouble like he has. So, maybe my original idea about karma has more worth to it than I originally thought.

  14. Jon
    December 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm #


    It would be nice to have a criteria, but really it doesn’t work. Yes, gun shops shouldn’t sell to psychopaths, but it shouldn’t be legislated either. I’m not sure how natural law would handle this. I would have to study it more. If you sell something to someone that you know is crazy how much are you responsible for the other persons actions? I don’t know. Maybe some???

    Look the 2nd amendment was established so the people could defend themselves from “their” government. So, any weapon the government has the people should be able to own also. You don’t like people owning nukes, then the government shouldn’t own them either. In a free society there would wouldn’t be much need for nukes anyways. Also, who has been the only one crazy enough to blow up nukes? The US government, so why are they allowed to have them. Who is crazy enough to use machine guns/missile launchers for offense? The US government, so they shouldn’t be able to own any.

    It sounds like your brother might be an idiot. The first and best protection is defense, i.e., not putting yourself in harms way. You see something that might be dangerous, head the other way. It’s smart not to put yourself in situations that would lead to yourself needing a gun. Yes, there are times when that is impossible, but like you said, it is extremely rare that those types of things happen. That is why I don’t own any weapons (unless you count a pocket knife as a weapon), it is so rare that it is not worth the hassle for me to buy one, maintain it and be trained in the use of weapons; It just doesn’t interest me. But I am grateful towards the people that do enjoy working with guns and are responsible with them, especially if I ever get into a bind where one is needed, but that is extremely unlikely.

  15. jimx
    December 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    The only thing I can think of as for natural law is that something mentally changes with weaponry. In a sense it perhaps magnifies whats going on mentally, and makes it more physical. I would have to research more myself. I am sure there is psychological literature on the topic.

    I know that martial arts was developed in china a long time ago when the government prohibited weapon ownership by citizens. Some very intelligent people developed hands free fighting to make yielding a weapon a liability in combat. I believe they also perfected the use of household items for use as weapons. Pots, pans, rakes, fans, clothing items etc… The ultimate power is in the human mind.

    And yes, its unreasonable to expect another country not to have nuclear weapons when the country itself has them many times over. Someone said that North Korea is not being responsible, who are we to say? Its a choice they have to make on how they use their resources.

    I probably won’t say more about my brother. Whatever his situation was, its no longer existing. Hes a really, really nice guy.

  16. Jon
    December 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm #


    When I was speaking of natural law I was talking more about the universal ethical study of human behavior.

    As for your brother, I should have said that his actions are idiotic, not necessarily him. To throw oneself in unneeded danger is pretty crazy.

  17. Matt
    December 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    The right to bear arms is a constitutional right. You don’t need to own one or even agree with, or support, the amendment. I would like to know: do you feel it’s ethical to tell others they shouldn’t be allowed to own and carry guns, or carry guns in certain locations (ex: “Gun Free” zones)? Have you heard of Suzanna Hupp and her heartbreaking story of how she watched a criminal kill both of her parents, and that she had left her gun in her car because she was not allowed to carry it inside the building?:

    Gun ownership isn’t a good fit for everyone, and I would never tell someone they need to own a gun. I would expect the same treatment in return, and not be told by anyone that I shouldn’t be allowed to own/carry a gun.

  18. iimx
    January 14, 2013 at 4:53 am #

    I’m not sure what to tell you about self defense. However, I just heard an interesting story on the radio about guns, gun violence and its use in the home. The radio said that gun owners are 47 times more likely to point a gun at themselves or a family member, than use it for self defense for an intruder.

    I just did a search and another study found that gun owners are 5 times more likely to commit suicide than those that own guns.

  19. nathanael
    September 19, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    I know this discussion’s a year old, but I have to correct one important statement:

    “a Chinese attacker demonstrated today by killing many people with a knife.”

    In fact, as the article you linked to states, no one died in the Chinese attack. Which makes it a very different argument from the one you were intending.

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