Saturday, December 08, 2007

Another "Gun-Free Zone" Mass Shooting Incident

By now you will have heard of the terrible mass-shooting incident in a "gun-free zone" the other day. The Instapundit raised a good point about these gun-free zone rules:

"It seems to me that we've reached the point at which a facility that bans firearms, making its patrons unable to defend themselves, should be subject to lawsuit for its failure to protect them."

This was also quoted over at Samizdata. A couple of the commenters seem to have missed Glenn's point though. After initially agreeing with Glenn, commenter Alisa had second thoughts:

"Well, now I am having a second thought. He is only right if it is a governmental facility which I cannot avoid visiting without breaching the law, like a courtroom, for example. In which case I would have to sue the government - good luck with that."
Joshua sort of agrees:
"I am inclined to agree. Surely we should have the right to forbid our guests bringing guns into our homes, why can't businesses forbid patrons bringing guns onto their property?"

I had to throw in my two cents worth. Here is the comment I left:

"Alisa and Joshua, I think you miss the point that Glenn Reynolds was making, and Alisa, your first reaction was the right one.

A private property owner, such as the mall owner, does of course have every right to make whatever rules they want about who may come on their property and whether they can be armed or not. Glenn's point was that if they make a rule that says you can't carry your lawful concealed weapon then they must take responsibility if you are killed or injured on their property as a result of having been deprived of your means of self defense in a case like this one.

As we have seen with these "gun-free zones" the property owner's prohibition against guns is of no concern whatsoever to the loony bent on mayhem. The law abiding were either choosing to obey the rules and leave their weapons at home, as the law-abiding are wont to do, or perhaps exercisng their prerogative to avoid the place altogether. Either way, no armed people were there other than the gunman.

Laws or private property owner's rules against carrying weapons don't prevent these incidents from happening because they are directed against the wrong people, responsible, law-abiding gun owners. All they do is ensure that these people will be unable to defend themselves should an incident occur.

There was a similar incident in a shopping mall in Utah last year in which a disaffected Bosnian muslim youth went on a shooting rampage. That mall also banned weapons. It was stopped by an off-duty policeman who had ignored the ban and shot and killed the gunman. Subsequent news reports say it was the off-duty officer and the police, but the latter arrived after the shooter had been taken down. Had the off-duty officer not ignored the ban or not been there, the death toll of innocent shoppers would have been worse. [Update: news reports I can find right now don't confirm this shooter was killed before uniformed police arrived. That is my recollection. I am pretty sure the shooter was at least pinned down by the off-duty Ogden officer, so he couldn't harm more people.]

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