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The gun control activists in the United States are fixated on the idea that “gun free zones” will stop crime. They have crusaded to include everything from government buildings to schools and churches under the “gun free zone” umbrella, barring legally armed citizens from setting foot on the property. The problem is that these laws have proven to have the exact opposite impact: instead of deterring armed individuals, these “Gun Free Zones” seem to attract mass shooters. By a 2:1 margin. A study by The Heritage Foundation outlined exactly how lopsided that ratio is in real life, and how it prevents people from putting up any form of a fight.

From the analysis by The Daily Signal:

The dataset includes 153 incidents going back to the beginning of 2002.

Research done at the Heritage Foundation found that fifty-four of the 153 incidents (35 percent) involved a shooter targeting people at random who were not relatives or adversaries of the attempted murderer.

Of the 54 incidents that fit these criteria, the shooter chose locations where guns were banned 37 times (69 percent). Alternatively, the shooting occurred where guns were legally allowed only 17 times (31 percent). See graphic.

Of the 17 shootings that occurred where citizens could legally carry firearms, 5 (29 percent) were ended when the gunman was stopped or slowed by a gun permit holder’s intervention.

Not only do mass shooters prefer gun free zones 2:1 over other places, but there’s a much lower probability of an armed citizen slowing or stopping the shooter (which makes sense). Is it time to accept that the concept of a “gun free zone” is flawed from the start, and is doing more harm than good?

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    • And you can bet that the San Bernardino shooters CHOSE their targets for that reason as well (personal grievances too) – no one to shoot back.

      We could argue all day whether they were mentally ill but I am sure we can all agree that it was their religious views that drove their actions. The two are not mutually exclusive 😉

      • And you can bet that the San Bernardino shooters terrorists CHOSE their targets for that reason as well (personal grievances too) – no one to shoot back.

    • Absolutely.
      I can see no reason not to consider the range of intelligence among homicidal/suicidal maniacs as the same as the general population. Some will be pretty stupid, most “normal”, and some smart. Certainly, Holmes careful planning (including the substitution of the “gun free” Cinemark theater for his lawfully “armed campus”) reflects the high intelligence of a graduate student in a Ph D program in Neuroscience.

  1. About a big a surprise as the data a few years back that criminals prefer to rob banks etc without cctv or security guards.

    So when banks got security upgrades they switched to service stations and shops

    • There will always be criminals.

      And there will always be mass murderers. If it becomes too difficult to kill several random people with a gun, then they will switch to using explosives, poisons, fire, automobiles, etc. I think we should not try too hard to prevent mass shootings, because the other mass-murder methods are actually more effective (more deadly) than shooting.

      • There’s a different mindset to shooting people personally and blowing them up, so I suspect that if they couldn’t do a mass shooting, some of these killers would just live frustrated lives. On a wild guess, I’ll say maybe one in five.

  2. Well yeah. And I see a “everyone should see this” blurb for a TV show about a Columbine shooter’s evil spawn…

  3. Note that you only even get that many incidents in non-GFZs when you change the definition of “mass shooting” to include 3 or more injuries, rather than fatalities (which is the more common definition).

    Compare “3 or more victims injured” (MSA definition) with “4 or more victims killed” (FBI definition), and you get an entirely different set of incidents.

    • I wonder why they did that. Perhaps to lessen the percentage of “mass-murders” by shootings in “gun free zones”?
      Also, would they consider an entire “may issue” state as a “gun free zone”?

  4. Gee, Mister Obvious, you really think that psychopaths prefer slaughtering unarmed people versus those who shoot back?

  5. Maybe a contest for the most accurate name to replace ‘gun free zone’ as clearly they are not in fact ‘gun free’.

    For example; ‘Target Range’, ‘Hunting Preserve’, ‘Disarmed Citizen Center’ ‘Murderous Psychopath Enablement Area’… no doubt people more imaginative than I can do better.

  6. Funny how even in the Gun-Free Zones there were still examples of a ‘good guy with a gun’ stopping the carnage. If even the PotG ignore the signs how could anyone ever think the criminals would obey?

    • Incident like this happened at the GM Tech Center yesterday. Visitor stabbed an employee with a steak knife and an armed vallet stopped the incident. The Tech Center is a gun free zone so likely the guy will be fired for being a hero.

  7. Recently a chain of grocery stores (Marianos) in a Chicago suburb has had a series of protests over their allowance of concealed carry on prem. In turn there are a group of people that have been protesting. One of the most hillarious aspects of it is this:

    The fact that she advocates the notion that “signs save lives” is incredibly naive. I’d like to find the person who would be stopped from murdering someone else with a firearm due to a mere sign, much less a person who is carrying lawfully whom are the only party such signs apply to in IL. Maybe they just need to start hanging those signs up in Engelwood and their problems will go away.

      • I think it would be funny to go to one of these protests with signs that say “close the ATF/Obama/Holder loophole” and try to see if you can get on the news or if you get caught.

  8. I suspect that even here, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. A pissed off kid who brings his Dad’s firearm to school to even the score doesn’t and wouldn’t care if the location is a gun free zone. Same with the crazy who shoots up a church. As we’ve noted before, criminals bent on murder and mayhem aren’t about to let little administrative details get in the way.

    Do psychos actually choose gun-free zones over other venues for their acts? I’m not sure the study really proves that – to me it’s more that we have tended to enact gun free zones at places that collect people, which are also, quite naturally, where a mass shooter is going to go for maximum effect. The selection process for each (goin’ shootin’, or enacting a law) is parallel, but not equivalent. You can’t really conclude that a significant number of mass shooters make their selection based on existence of a gun free zone.

    What the study does show is that gun-free zones don’t deter criminals and don’t benefit society. As a result, they would not pass strict scrutiny (or even intermediate scrutiny) for limiting a constitutional right, and should therefor be abolished.

    • It’s the perception there may be armed resistance, not the reality. The selection of a target based solely on the concept it’s a gun-free zone is most likely not the single variable that attackers would use to determine potential success or failure.

      However cumulative factors including whether the area is gun free or not does appear to play a role in the decision making process. The data above suggests this may be the case by a substantial margin.

  9. As good as these statistics look I think it’s just correlation. For one thing most of the country is effectively a gun free zone. Not enough people carry every day to provide enough coverage to deter anybody. The other factor is that mass shootings occur where large numbers of people congregate. These locations are more likely to post gun free signs. Mass shooters go where the masses are and may be just as likely to go down to the mall anyway even it isn’t posted. The key factor isn’t the presence or absence of armed citizens; it is target density that drive location.

  10. The Isla Vista murderer did not shoot up Deltopia, a spring break celebration, because as he wrote in his “manifesto,” “I saw that there were way too many cops walking around on such an event. It would be impossible to kill enough of my enemies before being dispatched by those damnable cops.”

    It stands to reason that a mass murder wannabee would attack where the targets are unprotected. Fortunately for the killers, those unprotected places advertise their weakness with signs that say “No Guns Allowed,” or words to that effect.

    How helpful.

  11. All of this is fine and dandy and in some ways it’s just preaching to the choir. But to gun control zealots none of that matters. Guns are bad, evil, nasty things that should never exist and are no longer relevant to society. There is just no way to talk to people like this. They are so frightfully ignorant and stupid it just isn’t worth the time. Even if any of us saved one of them from certain death, they would still be mad that we used a gun to save their life. Avoid gun free zones and they can put their ‘gun controlled’ lives at risk. I’m personally not ready to give up my safety for an uncertain promise of ‘protection from danger’ which I know is non-existent.

  12. these “Gun Free Zones” seem to attract mass shooters
    Correlation != Causation
    All this really proves is that GFZ is not a deterrence, not that it’s a factor.

    In the past few years there was an article on this site about how virtually all mass shootings took place at a place the shooter had some connection to. I think that’s the most honest analysis of this sort of data: GFZ signs have no effect on a shooter’s intentions.

    • Indeed, but it does seem to show that:

      1: GFZs exist in places that are already more likely to be targeted by mass shooters

      2: Mass shooters are several times more likely to be stopped by an armed citizen if they attack outside of a GFZ. 29% vs 5%. That’s significant. If the 29% rate were applied to the 37 GFZ incidents, that would be 11, 9 more mass shootings opposed by armed citizens.

  13. Of the 17 shootings that occurred where citizens could legally carry firearms, 5 (29 percent) were ended when the gunman was stopped or slowed by a gun permit holder’s intervention.

    That is an amazing statistic. CC rates are pretty low among the general population, yet they were still able to stop 29% of the shooters, when allowed to carry.

    On the other hand, not correcting for other factors (I’m assuming Nick would have quoted them otherwise) makes this study less than useful. E.g., to what extent are crowded, public venues correlated with gun-free zones? Put another way, the shooters are probably seeking out crowded public venues, and there’s no way to tell if they care about gun-free zones, per se, if pretty much all crowded public venues are gun-free zones. Leftists will ask this question, the study should have accounted for it. E.g., by showing that crowded public venues that aren’t gun-free zones are targeted by shooters less often than the ones that are gun-free zones.

  14. … gun control activists in the United States are fixated on the idea that “gun free zones” will stop crime.

    Not exactly. Most if not all gun-grabbers readily admit that gun-free zones have no effect whatsoever on spree killers. What they do claim is that “gun free zones” prevent injuries/deaths from negligent discharges. Gun-grabbers also claim that “gun free zones” stop people (who have no criminal record) from suddenly going into a rage and shooting people.

    What gun-grabbers fail to acknowledge is that people who have no criminal records and who are conscientious enough to honor a “gun free zone” do not regularly experience a sudden and uncontrollable fit of rage and start shooting people. Of course that FACT doesn’t matter to gun-grabbers because their feelings about firearms are more important than our unalienable right to life … and corresponding right to self-defense.

  15. “Mass murderers prefer gun free zones” should be required on all GFZ notification signage just like cancer warnings on tobacco products. The public should know of the increased risk when working or conducting business in a gun free zone where there is no added security.

  16. “Is it time to accept that the concept of a “gun free zone” is flawed from the start, and is doing more harm than good?”

    Yes. One could even call it “settled science.” And actually settled. Not “settled” like the lefties mean it when trying to shutdown conversation on other topics that are far from settled.

    I’m not good at math, but if 2 out of 3 mass shootings occur in gun free zones, this seems like an easy way to reduce mass shootings by nearly 70%.

  17. And you can bet that the San Bernardino shooters terrorists CHOSE their targets for that reason as well (personal grievances too) – no one to shoot back.


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