Less than a month ago, a malicious human being walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine people. The confessed killer said he committed the heinous act of gunning down black churchgoers to start a race war against African Americans. President Obama once again called for gun control.
Inevitably, in the presence and absence of terrible crimes like this, some gun owners declare (in as self-satisfied a tone as they can manage in HTML) “THIS is why I never set foot in a Gun-Free Zone!” (Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, like all churches in South Carolina, is a GFZ.) They don’t attend movies (Aurora!), shop in malls (Nairobi!), or eat in restaurants (Killeen! San Ysidro!).
They also apparently avoid colleges (Virginia Tech!) and public schools (Sandy Hook! Columbine!). The faithless among us have even used this event to justify why they don’t go to church (Charleston!). They apparently also never use the post office or appear in court, since almost all federal facilities are “gun-free” zones.
For a freedom-loving crowd, this kind of life doesn’t sound very free.
Now, don’t everyone jump on me for failing to distinguish between self-imposed and government-imposed restrictions. I support everyone’s right to conduct one’s life as one pleases. I also understand some people just don’t like people, or at least too many people in one place. But if you really avoid places you need or want to go just because they are GFZs, maybe you need a reality check.
Just as millions of flyers land safely at crowded airports every day, millions of people go to theme parks, restaurants, shopping centers, schools, and even churches without being shot at. Every day. Many Reason subscribers scoff at the fearful of flying because they listen to their irrational phobia instead of the data. And yet these same people wouldn’t dream of going unarmed, even though the likelihood of surviving an hour in a GFZ is enormously high.
The reason behind both fears (yes, I said fears) is the same. Aviophobics are fine with cars because there they feel in control, whereas in a plane, they’re at the mercy of pilots, birds, and weather. Likewise, when you step into a GFZ, you are at the mercy of criminals and security guards (if there are any). You are not in control.
I get it. I don’t like to leave my gun behind, and I like as much control over my safety as I can get. But even when I have my gun on me, “control” is an overblown illusion. I want every advantage I can get, but I also want to participate fully in life. When I volunteer at my children’s schools, I leave my gun in the car. I don’t like it, but I do it because it’s the law and I want to be involved in their education.
I took my family to DisneyWorld this year, and I was happy to do it, even though it’s a GFZ. Why? Because I wanted to. Again, I’d rather have had my gun on me, but I also wanted to have a fun (“magical,” I believe is the word they use) family vacation, so for one lousy occasion, I left my gun at the hotel and risked an attack by ISIS unarmed. And if I found myself in South Carolina on a Sunday morning, I would find a church and worship my Lord and Savior – gun-free.
Lovers of liberty hate legislated GFZs while also recognizing the right of people and businesses like Whole Foods and Costco to prohibit guns on their property (and also the right of gun owners to boycott them). But there are times when you want to cross the picket line, and it’s okay.
In Virginia, I cannot enjoy a beer or glass of wine while carrying concealed. Some gun owners would refuse that Côtes du Rhône. Not me. I appreciate the choice I’m given and I appreciate your choice to teetotal and carry. Me, I refuse to exist in a life-free zone. So for one hour, praise the Lord and pass the hefeweizen. After that, if I’m still breathing (and the odds are in my favor), then I’ll be armed again. Life is full of choices. These are mine.
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