Question of the Day: Do “Gun-Free Zones” Increase Danger?

There was an incident in the Gillette Stadium parking lot Sunday before the Patriots dumped a game to the visiting New York Football Giants. Gillette, like every NFL venue, is a designated gun-free zone. And, unfortunately, one hapless fan managed to shoot himself in the leg in the process of rendering himself gun free. Sure, there are plenty of ways he went wrong in making himself a possible candidate for IGOTD glory. But let’s look at the bigger picture here…

nj.com has a blurb on what happened:

Police say a 50-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the leg in a parking lot at Gillette Stadium before the New England Patriots game against the Giants.

Chief Edward O’Leary says the man was trying to empty the chamber of a licensed handgun when it discharged at about 3:15 p.m. Sunday.

He was apparently pretty successful in emptying that chamber, eh?

Forget the safety rule violations here for a minute. Why was this mook handling his gun in the first place? Because he had to. The NFL forced his hand. If the unnamed fan wanted to stay legal, he had to leave his heater locked in his car before heading into the game.

Every time you handle your gun, you increase the chances of a negligent discharge. The safest place for your gun is always in your safe or right there in the holster on your hip. Or wherever you choose to tote your gun. Holstered guns don’t “go off.”

Licensed concealed carriers, of course, run into the same problem this fan did every day. Leave it in the vehicle, or keep it in the holster and violate the law.

We certainly don’t advocate being a Dillinger for CCW rights. Depending on the state, you run the risk of losing your carry privileges if caught with a gun in a rainbows and starfish zone. And, yes, the Foxboro fan should have been able to successfully empty his chamber without letting lead fly.

But businesses like the NFL (or your local grocery store, bank or waffle house) that prohibit lawfully carried guns only increase the likelihood of something like this happening in their parking lots by making their patrons who want to comply with the law – which is the vast majority of them – handle their guns.

Does the NFL care? I’m sure they don’t. While a parking lot shooting isn’t exactly ideal, it beats the hell out of the alternative in their view. As long as they don’t have a shooting inside the stadium, they probably consider this a policy win.

Of course, if this guy had kept his gun on his hip, strolled inside and enjoyed the game with 70,000 of his friends, there wouldn’t have been a shooting at all. And I have a secret for the muckety-mucks in the NFL’s Park Avenue offices: Not everyone was as scrupulous about complying with the law as Hopalong was. There were plenty of fans with guns – both licensed and illegal – in that stadium on Sunday and no one was ventilated.

But if the NFL really cared for the safety of their fans, they wouldn’t force licensed concealed weapon carriers to disarm themselves in their cars, increasing the chances of an ND. Not that I expect to see a policy change any time soon. I’m still marveling at my ability to get through this post without a gratuitous Plaxico Burress reference. Not bad, huh?

comments

  1. avatar Robert Farago says:

    I was at family court yesterday. For hours. Watching gang bangers and other decidedly dodgy looking folk gather in a hallway with zero police presence. As in none.

    There were conflicts. At the risk of seemingly elitist (which I am not), I was in a stupid place with stupid people who’d done stupid things. And I had no choice.

    Needless to say, a single security guard put the crowd through a metal detector at the door. It also goes without saying that I left my gat at home.

    I wondered if it would it have been better if guns were allowed. Do I put my faith in disarmament and rapid response (yeah right) or take responsibility for my own defense against armed pond scum, psycho-killers (we are talking family court) and spree killers?

    I’d go with a little of both: security theater and allow concealed carry permit holders in with their guns. But if I had to choose, I bet you know which one strikes me as a better idea.

    Freedom, like life, is a dangerous business. It’s better to be armed than not. IMHO.

    1. avatar Vincit Veritas says:

      Robert, philosophically do you believe any places should be completely off-limits for carrying? Congress/white house? Military bases (for non-soldiers, i think it’s ridiculous that soldiers don’t carry on bases, especially in wartime)?

      I can see the argument against carrying in a courthouse due to the high emotions running. Hypothetically, say you saw some guy rape your daughter or wife, you’re the only witness, and you show up with a legal pistol to the courthouse on the day of the verdict. He’s found not guilty. There’s a pretty high chance for violence in that situation, it’s very predictable, and easily avoided.

      Of course, we’ve all seen Boondock Saints and know how easy it is to carry out an armed assault on a full courtroom anyway…

      1. avatar JustSomeGuy says:

        Crafting laws to prevent hypotheticals takes us nowhere. Or everywhere, depending on the side of the fence. And there are counter-arguments for every hypothetical. One of the problems with trying to rationally create “safe” places based on stereotypical people or hypothetical scenarios is that you are generalizing behavior and individuals defy generalization. The other big problem is that you are trying to legislate preferable outcomes. It has been demonstrated time and again that you cannot legislate behavior or outcomes or morality or expectations. People will act based on their own internal assessments. What we should strive to do is legislate consequences. This takes us out of the endless loop of hypothetical scenarios and away from the assumptions of stereotypes (I’m looking at you, Gabba) and places us firmly on the ground of stating what is undesirable and dictating how it will be dealt with. And it places the responsibility for behavior back in the hands of the individual and gives them more data to include in their internal assessment. It won’t save us from bad laws, but maybe it’ll save us from bad arguments.

        JSG

      2. avatar Joe Wolvie says:

        Vincit, if I may, I’d like to answer your question.

        Should there be places that are off-limits?

        1) Any place that is private property and it is the owner’s choice. Then I have the choice whether or not to visit or patronize that place.

        2) If it is a government facility, then I want them to provide a place where I can legally check in my firearm at the door and retrieve it upon exit. I can understand the need to disarm in places like courthouses, correctional facilities, etc. I see no need or reason why this extends to parks, post offices, schools, etc.

  2. avatar Gabba says:

    the simple problem here is sports. humans go bonkers for sports. assuming that patrons of professional athletics are rational actors is ludicrous on its face. the NFL knows this and rationally choose to adopt a policy that both discourages the carrying of firearms and allows that anyone caught armed is allowed to be arrested for simple possession. if human beings acted rationally about sports i’d be with you but in that parallel universe there aren’t professional athletic franchises.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    Declared gun free zones make it easy to commit mayhem, to think otherwise is wishful thinking. I think I’ll stay home and avoid stadiums. Costs too damn much to see a game anyway.

  4. avatar tdiinva says:

    In the environment of a crowed stadium I don’t think it makes a difference one way or another. It is a poor tactical environment for the use of firearms. Tens of thousands of people packed together in close quarters is a recipe for a lot of collateral damage and any responsible CCW holder isn’t going to use his gun.

    I can see carrying in the situation that Robert described where you have a bunch of undiscovered criminals hanging around in small groups. An attorney is an officer of the court and as such should be allowed to pack his heater if he has the permit to do so.

  5. avatar Todd Price says:

    I don’t understand why the guy felt the need to clear the tube. Just take gun off, and put it in a locked glove compartment or nanovault. Probably was racking the slide, heard something/someone outside, got distracted and boom! No excuse here.

    I agree with the notion of being allowed to carry anywhere, but it was clear that the stadium was a no gun zone, and gentleman should have been better prepared for what that meant procedurally.

  6. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

    Dan, That’s the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve read from you, no kidding. You’re blaming the gun-free zone for the fact that this guy shot himself? He put his finger in the trigger, man, or in some other negligent way, fired the gun. It wasn’t a case of “when it discharged,” like the article said, “it” didn’t do anything except get fired NEGLIGENTLY.

    “Every time you handle your gun, you increase the chances of a negligent discharge. “

    That may be true, but you could also say, “Every time you handle your gun negligently, you increase the chances of a negligent discharge.”

    I can’t believe you can resist all my attempts to point out true shared responsibility, like when you guys let your guns get stolen too easily, or like when one of your kids takes your gun to school, but in this case you blame the gun free zone. It’s ludicrous.

    Besides, how ignorant can a CCW permit holder be to not think of that until he’s entering the stadium.

    Listen, you want some advice? Stop defending the worst among you. Cut them off and throw them under the bus, you’ll be better off.

    1. avatar Pascal says:

      He did not enter the stadium, it was the parking lot. Security checks happen at the gate.

      Sadly, I agree with you on this point

      “Stop defending the worst among you, Cut them off and throw them under the bus, you’ll be better off”

      The reason for being defensive is one idiot becomes a gun grabbing free for all.

    2. avatar Vincit Veritas says:

      Yeah I have to agree with Mike here. You can’t have it both ways.

      Either licensed gun owners are responsible enough to handle their weapons proficiently and safely, or they aren’t.

      If it’s the former, then “forcing” them to remove their weapon should pose no significant risk whatsoever. If it’s the latter then they shouldn’t be carrying.

      You can disagree on the merits of “gun-free zones,” but here you are just making an argument against CCW in general. Personally, I think it’s a private venue and the owners should be able to set whatever policies they feel are appropriate (so long as they are not discriminatory), and as a consumer you can choose to patronize them or not.

    3. avatar Joe Wolvie says:

      Mike, I could not agree more.

      This idiot just gave the anti’s a whole lot of ammo (pun intended).

      They could argue that if he can’t be expected to perform simple and rudimentary gun handling in a stress-free environment, then why should he be allowed to carry among the innocent people.

      No, this guy isn’t worth defending…he deserves our scorn and our anger for going out of his way to give the anti’s a great argument to use against us.

      1. avatar Joe Wolvie says:

        I just re-read my comment above and realised that it could appear that I was calling the author (Dan) an idiot.

        I wasn’t. I was directing that comment at the guy who shot himself. You know…THAT idiot.

        Hopefully this clears up my intent…and I offer an apology to Dan if he thought I was hurling an insult at him.

        I don’t agree with what he wrote…but that alone doesn’t make him an idiot and gives me no reason to call him names.

    4. avatar Here Iam says:

      “First they came for the Idiots and I did not speak out because I
      was not an Idiot. Then they came for the… ”

    5. Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. When you can’t win on the facts, set up a straw man and beat the crap out of him, right? No, no. This is your little merde pile, not mine.

      If you read what I wrote, I’m not “blaming the gun-free zone for the fact that this guy shot himself.” I even mentioned that the guy in question could be a candidate for IGOTD. But you read that, didn’t you? Sure you did. No the only person at fault here is the gun owner.

      My only point is that whenever people handle their guns, statistically speaking, the chances for a ND go up. And that’s only exacerbated by all the mythical gun-free zones businesses try to establish for themselves.

      So if you find yourself wiping BS off your boots Mikey, I didn’t drop it there. I’m pretty sure that’s your own product.

      1. avatar Joe Wolvie says:

        Dan Wrote:
        “If you read what I wrote, I’m not “blaming the gun-free zone for the fact that this guy shot himself.””

        I’m sorry Dan…speaking strictly for myself, that’s exactly what I read into this piece.

        From the title itself (Question of the Day: Do “Gun-Free Zones” Increase Danger?)

        to this line: (But businesses like the NFL (or your local grocery store, bank or waffle house) that prohibit lawfully carried guns only increase the likelihood of something like this happening in their parking lots by making their patrons who want to comply with the law – which is the vast majority of them – handle their guns.)

        And this: (But if the NFL really cared for the safety of their fans, they wouldn’t force licensed concealed weapon carriers to disarm themselves in their cars, increasing the chances of an ND.)

        The way I read it…it is placing the blame on the establishment and not squarely on the shoulders of the moron who shot himself because he lacks simple, fundamental gun handling skills.

        Perhaps that’s not what you meant and perhaps that’s not what your intent was…but all I can say is that is how it reads to me.

        1. avatar JustSomeGuy says:

          Tend to agree. Dan, while you’re not blaming the establishment for the ND, you are maintaining that they bear a degree of responsibility because of their policies. And that’s corollary to blame. You can expect people to read them as the same.

          Also, I don’t know of any statistical validation regarding increasing your chances of a ND by handling your firearm. Given the number of firearms in use in this country and the number of times they are handled with the low incidence of negligent discharges…I suspect statistically your argument is null.

          The more important point for me; we as a community, and specifically here at TTAG, rail against the “gun that went off” meme. It’s inaccurate and misleading. It paints this inanimate object as dangerous and denies the necessary human action we all know is required. This idea feeds the notion that firearms are unsafe and their mere presence in our community makes us less safe. And this is simply not true. Firearms handling can be done unsafely, and this led to this guy’s unfortunate leakage. But the only one that can bear any blame or any responsibility for that unsafe handling is the man with the gun in his hand. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous and harmful.

          JSG

        2. avatar Joe Wolvie says:

          Well said, JSG.

          In the same vein, correlating ND’s to the handling of firearms is akin to another of the anti’s favorite statistics: “Having a gun makes you (insert 3-digit number here)% more likely to be shot or killed…”

          Total. Friggin. Bull.

          Handling a gun safely and competently does NOT, in any way, increase the chance of a negligent discharge. Only negligence increases the likelihood of a negligent discharge.

          A gun is safer in a holster? Yeah, well a poorly designed holster (especially one that doesn’t cover the trigger) can cause a discharge just by getting in and out of your car. Now, I wouldn’t be blaming the car for this…I would blame the holster and the owner who didn’t think his/her choices through enough. Same thing here…I don’t blame the place (which is private property)…I blame the guy 100% for the incident.

          There is no way that I would support the notion or the insinuation that I am putting myself, my family and the rest of society in danger simply by handling my firearms. That is nothing but a false assumption on the nature of gun handling…and an offensive insult to me and every other gun owner. I also consider it dangerous because it is a pile-on-the-bandwagon point for the antis who would LOVE to find yet another reason why we shouldn’t be trusted with firearms.

  7. avatar Todd Price says:

    I don’t understand why the guy felt the need to clear the tube. Just take gun off, and put it in a locked glove compartment or nanovault. Probably was racking the slide, heard something/someone outside, got distracted and boom! No excuse here.

  8. avatar Chas says:

    Just curious as to how anyone would be able to get past the gate security at any NFL venue with a firearm when they search all bags and pat you down. So, the idea that there were “plenty of fans with guns” inside the stadium is unlikely.

    1. avatar Vincit Veritas says:

      Megan: I gotta know where you keep the gun, man. I mean, is it ankle, hip, lower back? You don’t…between the cheeks do you?
      Air Marshall Jon: No, I don’t stick a gun up my butt! I mean, that’s…stupid!
      Megan: I didn’t say up. I just know of a guy, that got a lot of under cover work, and all I know was he had tape marks all up and down his cheeks.
      Air Marshall Jon: That can’t be true! People don’t keep guns up their asses, because if you needed to use it, how are you gonna get it?!
      Megan: He cut a hole in his pocket.
      Air Marshall Jon: What?
      Megan: It was…it was in his back pocket. You’ve gotta get somethin’ out of your ass, and you cut a hole in the back of your jeans, you wanna tell me you can’t get to somethin’?
      Air Marshall Jon: I don’t have gun for you to put up my ass to make your point!
      Megan: I can put my nano. I will show you.
      [holds up her iPod nano]
      Megan: I will, if you get me scissors, I will cut a hole in my pocket and I…you’ll never find this again until I want you to find it.

  9. avatar Silver says:

    I think it might be a stretch to blame the gun-free zone for the discharge or for user error. Certainly, gun-free zones are ridiculously stupid ideas to begin with and do increase danger, but for completely different reasons.

  10. avatar karlb says:

    Last night I ran out of gas. It is Nissan’s fault for only having a 14 gallon gas tank or for making a car that only gets thirty miles to the gallon; I am not sure which it is. Either way, I know for a fact it ain’t my fault.

  11. avatar Ronaldo Ignacio says:

    I do dislike having to de-holster every once in a while, but no excuse for sloppy gun handling.

  12. avatar JustSomeGuy says:

    Dan,

    It’s already been said, but this argument is off-target and a little silly. If the only safe places for your gun are in a safe or on your hip, you should not be carrying. The brain balks at the fact that Mikeb302000 pointed out the inherent error with his correction: “Every time you handle your gun negligently, you increase the chances of a negligent discharge.” (Thanks, Mike, now let’s get you parsing your own arguments…).

    This comes across as an opportunistic leap on a story involving a gun so you can attack the NFL’s (stupid) policies. It does not serve the cause well, and it does not serve the truth about guns well. If we’re going to tell the truth, it’s this…you should not shoot yourself with your own gun while doing basic firearm manipulations, if you do you’re behaving irresponsibly and we’re going to call you on it.

    Regarding the NFL’s policies: I called them stupid. Leaving aside issues of private property, CCW, the logistics of deployment in a group of 70-80,000 people; it’s stupid because it’s a knee-jerk reaction to the isolated action of one man out of hundreds of thousands attending NFL games (not to mention college) that week. They jump into high gear to craft a policy to further invade people’s personal space and inconvenience their customer base in the name of security theater. It will not stop bad actors or stupid people from doing bad or stupid things.

    JSG

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    The Patriot’s property rights trump my gun rights. I can live with that.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email