Another gun lobby myth- gun free zones

no_guns_allowedI wrote in a previous post about gun lobby myths and I have written about them many times before. But it bears repeating that much of the gun lobby’s rhetoric is based on fear, paranoia and just plain deception without accompanying facts. While it is true that all sides of issues tend to exaggerate to make their point and catch the attention of the media, the public and our elected leaders, the corporate gun lobby is notorious for its’ mythical rhetoric.

Let’s look at the unbelievable myth that gun free zones make people more vulnerable to criminals with guns or those who mean harm to others. This article explores that very myth in the context of the Aurora theater shooters notes and musings about carrying out the shooting. The author of the article, Mark Follman, starts out like this:

It’s an argument we hear frequently from gun rights activists and conservative lawmakers: Mass shooters select places to attack where citizens are banned from carrying firearms—so-called “gun-free zones.” All the available data shows that this claim is just plain wrong. As I reported in an investigation into nearly 70 mass shootings in the United States over three decades, there has never been any known evidence of gun laws influencing a mass shooter’s strategic thinking. In fact, the vast majority of the perpetrators have indicated other specific motivationsfor striking their targets, such as employment grievances or their connection to a school.

The article contains images of the shooter’s notes made before the heinous mass shooting. The shooter took some time to think out how he could do the most harm and shoot the most people which he made possible with his weapon and ammunition choices. More from the article:

Nowhere in any of this extensive planning did Holmes make reference to gun regulations at the theater or the potential for moviegoers to be armed. Moreover, he had every expectation that he would not get away with his crime. In one sketch, he drew two other locations not far from the theater: the Aurora Police Department and a Colorado National Guard facility. “ETA response [approximately] 3 mins,” he noted. In his list of possible methods of attack, where he checked off mass murder using firearms as his choice, he also wrote “being caught 99% certain.”

Additional evidence from the trial underscores that Holmes clearly was not planning to avoid getting shot, killed, or apprehended. On an profile he filled out shortly before the shooting, he wrote: “Will you visit me in prison?”

The shooter’s trial is now going on in Colorado and the families and friends are having to re-live the worst day of their lives every day the trial drags on.

The idea that people are less safe in gun free zones than in guns allowed zones makes no sense. Since most shootings happen in homes which can be guns allowed and of course, domestic shootings occur in homes with guns, how does the myth hold up? It doesn’t. Accidental shootings of course occur in places where guns are allowed. And what about the recent biker gang shoot-out in Waco, Texas? Clearly that shooting occurred where guns were allowed. 6 were killed. The same is true of intentional shootings of police officers such as the ones in Tacoma, Washington and Pittsburgh, PA. Officers are far too frequently shot by those who know they are about to threaten or shoot an armed individual. And isn’t a shooting range a guns allowed venue? I guess having all of those guns around didn’t protect this guy from getting shot at one. There are many other incidents about shootings at gun ranges.

And I ran across an article about a Sheriff’s deputy in Georgia who was injured by another deputy at a gun range where they were training with their guns. This is the 2nd one in just a few days at a gun range. So what’s the deal? How could these be happening? And happening they are. Rights? Where is the right to be safe from guns going off accidentally or intentionally in any zone?

The thing is, the gun lobby should be embarrassed about all of these shootings which disprove their myths. Maybe they aren’t paying any attention to the media stories because their agenda is all about driving up profits. Never mind the facts or that people are dying from gunshot injuries.

Common sense tells us that the problem is not that we have gun free zones in our country. It’s that we have too many guns in our country which are too easily accessed by those who shouldn’t have them in zones that include guns and zones that don’t. Most civilized, democratized countries not at war don’t allow people to carry guns in public and have many more restrictions on gun ownership in general with fewer guns per capita. What is the result? Mostly gun free zones, strong gun regulations on the weapons and the owners, and far fewer gun deaths and injuries than in America.

We understand the reason for pushing this myth. The corporate gun lobby and its’ minions want to be able to carry any kind of gun they want with as few restrictions as possible, including where they can carry them. We are not safer as a result. That bubble has already burst. My friend Cliff Schecter just wrote a column for Daily Beast about the gun lobby’s promotion of guns for domestic abusers and those who are mentally ill who shoot mostly women in pretty regular incidents and mostly in guns allowed zones- homes. Let’s take a look at more from his article:

The stats, of course, don’t lie, as much as discredited, sham researchers like the infamous John Lott try and tell you your nose is not in front of your face. This is why, on the same day as the first national Wear Orange Day, in which celebrities, policymakers, and regular Joes and Janes all across the country are sporting orange to honor victims of gun violence and say enough already, the U.S. House of Representatives is holding hearings on “Domestic Violence and Guns: An Epidemic for Women and Families.”

For an epidemic it is. Over half of all women killed by partners between 2003 and 2012 were murdered with guns. A gun’s presence makes a woman seven times more likely to be murdered by her abuser.

Much like the guy screaming about the end of the world on the street corner, when it doesn’t happen, the NRA just pushes back the timeline a bit, rinses and repeats.

And, of course, the simple stat that belies what the NRA and all those Twitter trolls posing with their AK-girlfriends spew out. You know, the ones suffering from Gunorrhea, who like to hock out one canard after another—more guns means less crime, good guys with guns are like Iron Man, and other assorted delirium and detritus—women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than in other high-income countries.

How can we make any common sense of any of this insanity and crazy talk? It isn’t backed up by the facts. It’s pure fear and paranoia that has led to guns everywhere. This domestic shooting in Fargo, North Dakota is one of the latest tragic proofs of a domestic shooting in a guns allowed zone:

At this point, investigators believe Rick, while on a visit to Fargo, used a handgun to shoot his wife once in her body and once in her head before firing a shot into his head, Reitan said.

The husband and wife were both well-educated professionals who, before they separated, lived together in a newer development with ample houses and lush yards in southwest West Fargo.

As far as police know, the couple did not have a history of domestic violence, Reitan said. In the past three years, there were only two police calls to the home: both from neighbors concerned about the couple’s dog being left outside, police records show.

Rick had a business called Rick Professional Services that specialized in human resources and workplace safety, according to his resume on In something of a twist, he gave a presentation last year in Fargo titled “Workplace Violence and Preparedness” on how to deal with active shooters, armed intruders and threats to employees, according to The Forum’s archive.

Did you get the irony here? “….he gave a presentation last year in Fargo titled “Workplace Violence and Preparedness” on how to deal with active shooters, armed intruders and threats to employees….” Really? What about threats in homes and active shooters in homes where guns are allowed. This is the myth of the corporate gun lobby and gun extremists playing out in every day life. Actual people are dying. Does it matter to the gun lobby?

And then we can talk about other “gun free” or guns allowed zones, particularly at airports?The juxtaposition of an article about a gun nut carrying his AR-15 around in the unsecured area of the Atlanta airport with the article about how many guns are actually missed by TSA screeners in the secured areas of airports. You just can’t make this stuff up. Let’s look first at the guy who is just worried that “something might happen” at the airport so he must have his assault rifle with a 100 round drum. Good grief. What the he&% is he expecting anyway? An ISIS attack? From the article:

Jim Cooley carried his assault weapon with a 100-round drum attached to it while accompanied by his wife as they dropped their daughter off, alerting the press later after he was stopped multiple times by authorities.

In an interview with WSB-TV, Cooley explained that he knew it was legal to carry the weapon into the airport as long as he didn’t approach any TSA checkpoints, explaining “You can carry in unsecured areas of the airport. Past TSA, never.”

While in the airport, Cooley was approached by a fire marshal asking him why he was carrying the gun, an Atlanta police officer who asked him if he had a carry permit, and then multiple officers who followed him to his car while taking pictures.

Asked why he carried the weapon, pausing to pose with it for a picture he later posted to his Facebook page, Cooley explained, “It shouldn’t matter what I carry, just that I choose to carry. You never know where something might happen.”

Yes. Something might happen all right and it won’t be what this guy expects. How do we know a “good guy” with a gun from a “bad guy” with a gun? Why couldn’t anyone carry an assault rifle into an airport unsecured area with bad intent? This is insane and crazy. There is no other word for it. And the Georgia legislature should be ashamed and thinking twice after this stupid and potentially dangerous stunt. Will they? No. Because they are spineless in dealing with the corporate gun lobby. They are the guys with the guns that get to make the rules. Right Wayne?

Now, about the TSA screening process allowing too many guns past the security checks:

In one case, an alarm sounded, but even during a pat-down, the screening officer failed to detect a fake plastic explosive taped to an undercover agent’s back. In all, so-called “Red Teams” of Homeland Security agents posing as passengers were able get weapons past TSA agents in 67 out of 70 tests — a 95 percent failure rate, according to agency officials.

“The numbers in these reports never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security,” Homeland Security officials said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time TSA officers have failed to detect fake terrorists and their weapons. “Red Teams” have been probing TSA checkpoints for 13 years, oftentimes successfully getting weapons past airport screeners.

However, this time, TSA agents failed to detect almost every single test bomb and gun, aviation experts said.

So one Georgia man is strutting around outside of the secured area of the Atlanta airport as if it’s his right to scare people because, well, because, ….. rights. On the other side, over 2000 guns were found on passengers at security check points in 2014 alone. This is insane and all a part of the crazed gun culture sponsored by the corporate gun lobby and its’ bought and paid for elected leaders. Raise your hand it you actually believe seeing someone with a loaded AR-15 at an airport makes you feel safer. Do we want guns at airports or not? We know that the gun extremists do but as to the rest of the country, I’m guessing the answer is a pretty definitive NO. Airports need to remain gun free zones for obvious reasons. So far there have been few, if any shootings at airports. People understand that guns are not allowed and will be taken away. The idea that this guy with his AR-15 in Atlanta will “save the day” is ridiculous and part of the many gun lobby myths that promotes this kind of behavior.

The other myth about gun free zones that is so insane is the number of kids who are getting their hands on loaded guns in homes that are clearly not gun free zones and shooting themselves, siblings, sometimes parents and acquaintances with those guns. Check out this article about this deadly phenomenon:

Nor is this an especially new state of affairs. American kids have been shooting themselves and each other for years now, but as the Second Amendment enthusiasts who crowd the comments sections will tell you ad nauseum, more U.S. children die in swimming pool accidents each year than by gunfire. The problem lies in discerning whether that data point is even accurate: after years of lobbying by the NRA and other gun rights groups, reliable federal numbers don’t exist on how many toddler shooting deaths are even happening each year, as The Washington Post reported last fall.

So we find ourselves at an impasse. American toddlers are getting their hands on guns at an alarming rate, and the government’s “hands are tied” to track the phenomenon. On top of that, few local or state governments seem to have the appetite to prosecute negligent parents or caretakers for leaving loaded guns lying around for their toddlers to find. Even activists in relatively liberal New York State are finding it an uphill battle to pass common-sense laws around safe gun storage.

The NRA’s singing Eddie Eagle mascot, which recently got a digital upgrade, tells children that if they see a gun, they should “Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown up.” Given how the NRA has lobbied against gun safety legislation across the country, this feels pretty disingenuous. The message the group seems to really be sending to kids is: “Stop! Lock and load. Ready aim, open fire!”

In all seriousness, it’s hard to say at this point what it will take to get a critical mass of Americans and their elected representatives to acknowledge that something’s gone deeply wrong here, and to do something about it. Our toddlers are regularly shooting themselves, their friends and their family members. How many bloodbaths will we all have to watch on the news, or live through personally?

The longer we drag our heels debating this issue, the more kids will reach for the gun in their parent’s glove compartment, with no singing eagle on the scene to warn them away.

No more words necessary.

And I remind my readers that the people who are pushing the myths are taking extreme positions and represent an increasingly small group of Americans. It’s time to base gun policy on what works best for the majority and what will protect public health and safety. The gun lobby’s tactics, myths and policy ideas are making us less safe. People are scared into buying guns without the least notion of how to be safe with them or keep their own families safe from intentional or unintentional shootings.

And, of course, I have not covered gun suicides which most often occur in guns allowed homes. This is one area where the gun lobby rarely travels. But we should look at this article from Vox that studied meta data to show that in homes where there are guns ( guns allowed) there were more suicides and also more domestic homicides and accidental shootings. Duh. There should be no surprises here. Let’s take a look:

While high rates of gun ownership are associated with higher homicide rates, theevidence around suicide is particularly strong. For example, a recent meta-analysis, which collated studies comparing suicide and homicide victimization rates for people with and without gun access, “found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide among persons with access to firearms compared with those without access and moderate evidence for an attenuated increased odds of homicide victimization when persons with and without access to firearms were compared.”

Gun free zones actually according to all data and actual incidents, do actually make people safer in contrast to the gun lobby myth. We don’t need more guns in gun free zones. The gun lobby just wants to sell more guns and using this myth helps with that agenda.

The gun lobby should just stop whining and start basing their assertions on actual facts. Then we could have a national discussion that we deserve to have. Yesterday’s #WearingOrange day for gun violence awareness must have been tough for the gun lobby extremists who just can’t get that the majority of Americans want the shootings to stop and don’t believe in myths.

Our leaders need to deal with the facts as well in order to make good policy. It’s past time for that to happen.

In the name of the victims of shootings everywhere, let us “demythify” the gun culture and deal with the facts. We are better than this.

16 thoughts on “Another gun lobby myth- gun free zones

  1. paladin says:

    the story of the moron carrying an ar at the airport smells funny. the guy IS a moron, the question is, is he a “gun guy” or is he an anti gun person trying to make gun owners look stupid?

    1. Right. What makes you think he is not a gun guy? No “anti gun” person would be stupid enough to do what this stupid guy did. Nice try. No- he is a gun guy and he makes gun extremists look as stupid as they are. He didn’t need any help looking stupid. He did it on his own. You should distance yourself from such stupidity and stop trying to deny who is doing these things. Just look to the Open Carry guys in Texas for more of the same.

    1. I understand that for someone who knows nothing about guns this video may be disturbing in a different way than it is for someone who knows something about guns.

      Whether we agree with the open carriers or not, as the laws currently are at the place and time, these man were well within their rights to openly carry a firearm and they were not doing anything illegal.

      Meanwhile the police officer No.1 not only had a gun drawn, but clearly pointed at them – for no specific reason. The basic rule of gun safety is never point a gun at something you are not ready to destroy. Considering that the other officers didn’t feel any need to restrain the open carriers, neither did they order them to the ground or do anything else that would make it clear they consider them a threat, the officer No.1 was in clear violation of that rule.

      Considering that he broke this basic rule, due to his large distance we may only guess whether he maintained the other basic gun safety rule – keeping the finger off the trigger. In any case, the police officer DIRECTLY endangered the open carrier’s lives – and that for no good reason – judging from the way the other two police officers handled the situation.

      In my country (the Czech Republic), pointing a gun at someone is considered a violent act, and for such an act both civilians as well as police officers need to have a very good legal justification. I see none in this case, and I am quite sure that pointing a gun without legal justification would be a good enough reason for a police officer to be stripped of his uniform. (We have obligatory concealed carry, but open carry of rifles, including AR15s, is legal on the way to/from hunt).

  2. J. Edwards says:

    This article seems to have a lot of incongruity. The gun free zone argument is that criminals would be more inclined to hit softer targets with no resistance then attack where others might have the tools and the wherewithal to resist. This is true even in nature. With the exception of mating rituals, predators with sharp teeth and claws rarely go after others like them. Even the mugger on the street looks for people who are exhibiting the victim behavior; distracted people, unaware of their surroundings with poor posture and a submissive gaze. A person with a more confident stride, aware of their surroundings who looks someone in the eye as they pass by has a lot less of a chance of being selected as a victim by a violent criminal.
    Most burglars do their work in the daytime when house occupants are away at work. Even the hardcore home invasion criminal attempts his attack in the early morning hours where he hopes to have an element of surprise.
    As for the pushback on national laws that dictate the safe storage of firearms, It is not because people do not want guns stored safely. People do not want the federal government intruding into their home life with laws that are unenforceable without violating or at least weakening the 4th amendment of the Bill of Rights. Also the quote the Eddie Eagle is telling kids “Stop! Lock and Load! Ready, aim, open fire!” is a bit odd to me as Eddie Eagle has always promoted the firearms safety for children, much in the way Smokey the Bear does for stopping wildfires. I’m glad to see the anti gun crowd is also now promoting safe storage of firearms. I hope to also see safe gun handling techniques also promoted in the future.
    As for June 2nd, I saw nobody in my community wearing orange. Maybe it’s just the state I live in but I still saw many folks openly carrying holstered firearms and the $90,000 CCW holders in my state continued to carry. While being a victim of criminal violence is indeed a tragedy, I saw no reason to dress like a prison inmate in honor of it. I do see a trend in our community of more folks taking the initiative to get good training with their firearm and more folks who are looking to learn how to handle firearms safely.
    I believe having a national discussion about firearms is not the solution we should be seeking. In general the people I talk to would like less federal government intrusion into their lives. I believe firearm safety has to come from the “Grassroots”, not the “AstroTurf”.

    1. You are miming the gun lobby talk. People wearing orange were wearing it because the family of a young girl who was shot in Chicago asked for this day. It is an insult to victims for you to promote the gun lobby talk about dressing like prison inmates. I also don’t see any initiatives about good training. So far, your side has not done much of anything to promote firearm safety except talk. Talk is not working. Training should be required before someone walks out of a gun shop with a gun. People have a cavalier attitude towards guns that make for incidents like this one in my state: Guns are the only product on the market designed to kill people. They are a risk and dangerous. And the statistics about gun deaths in our country prove that is the case. Until we deal with the facts, people will keep dying in senseless and avoidable shootings. Facts matter. Gun laws matter. That discussion is taking place right now and if you don’t want to be part of it, fine. But that train has left the station. And, by the way, many people in my community wore orange and posted about it on Facebook. Nationally, people all over the country wore orange in honor of gun violence victims.

  3. paladin says:

    I think guns were designed for protection and putting meat on the table. Killing came later, that is a society or cultural thing. That said how come the brady bunch and Michael Bloomberg do not push for gun safety to be taught in school? Every time the NRA brings that up those two groups think that is the craziest idea ever. Is that because they don’t want children to understand how guns work? Seems like a good idea to me to help prevent accidents from occurring.

  4. J. Edwards says:

    I sure wouldn’t want to sound like a member of the “gun lobby”. I just saw a picture of a baseball team all wearing orange and I had to double take cause I thought it was a prison team. As far as safety training, we have many classes locally where I live that are available to the public. I also offer free safety training for anyone in the community who wants to learn. My family and my children live here, it only makes sense to do what we can to educate folks on safety. If someone buys a gun without knowing how to safely operate it had has no intention of learning, they are the worst kind of stupid. I definitively support a “local discussion” but not a “national one as I don’t believe what works well in my community is necessarily gonna work for someone else, 1,000 miles away.

    1. Mr. Edwards- the nonsense about orange and prisoners is just that- nonsense. Now that we have cleared that up, the reason we need national gun laws is because people in states with strong laws get guns in states with weak laws. I write about this all the time. It is a fact. It’s the Iron Pipeline. Your saying that is just an excuse not to do anything. We are past the time of this excuse. Gun deaths and injuries are on the rise. Children are killing themselves or someone else every day. People are being encouraged to buy guns who have no business with them. The corporate gun lobby is driving people to gun stores with messages of fear and paranoia.

  5. J. Edwards says:

    Commongunsense, the only reason I thought of prison inmates is that’s what I see convicts wearing: orange jumpsuits. It was a perspective thing. I did a bit of research and saw the NRA was using that as a talking point. I was in no way trying to push their agenda and I apologize that I came across that way. I agree we definitely have a gun education problem in America and I know we can’t make any headway by insulting each other. I can’t ever condone telling another State how they should operate. If I don’t live there, it is not my business. I reckon if we had an issue with gun crime, maybe it might be better to raise the penalties on committing crime with guns. As for the negligence with guns, and children getting ahold of guns without permission I would definitely like to see more education. We teach kids about fire safety and safe sex in school, why not the same with guns? When was the last time we had children die in a school fire? I used to see commercials on TV as a kid about fire safety and “Stop, drop and Roll!” I saw Smokey the Bear tell us “Only you can prevent forest fires”. We also had safety instruction on how to be safe in the water; “wear life jackets, don’t stand up in a small boat, wear sun screen….” Then later we had some very informal sex education. Why not gun safety? Why can we talk about the dangers of sex, drugs, fires and drowning to kids at public school and not guns?

    1. My grandson had a safety lesson in his first grade class. He brought home a paper with symbols for safety and among them was a gun with a slash through it. They talked about not touching guns as a safety lesson. But what we don’t need is for the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program in our schools. It is promoted by a pro gun organization whose interest is not pure. And it doesn’t work. Kids are curious and touch guns even when told not to. What we need is to educate parents about the risks of guns in the home and to make darned sure those guns are not accessible to kids and teens. It’s the adults who are the gun owners. Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. There are many safety features or products that are not taught in school. It’s the adults who buy smoke detectors and it’s the law that buildings of a certain size must have a sprinkler system. It’s the law. Safe sex? That’s controversial and often doesn’t get taught in school either. Parents can do a lot with that one as well. Wearing life jackets- also a law. And it’s the parents who put them on the kids. Wearing sun screen for kids? Parents put it on their small children. Children can’t do it by themselves. Don’t stand up in a boat? Don’t know that we teach that in school. Not every house has a boat and only about 25% of households own guns. Drowning? Adults are responsible to put fencing around pools. It’s the law. When swimming, small children can’t go by themselves. Parents and adults are responsible for watching the kids and making sure they are wearing swimming aids and life jackets. Kids don’t do it on their own. Adults are responsible for much of this. Adults put the kids in car seats and seat belts until kids are old enough to drive on their own and then parents can only hope that their example is followed.

    2. I would also say that it’s hard for me to believe that you didn’t get the message from the NRA and gun extremists about the orange being the color of prison suits. That was their main message when they saw all of the people wearing orange. To be rude and demean the whole thing. The fact that the New York Mets dressed all in orange for gun violence awareness day was a great and noticeable thing and should be taken for what it was. They support efforts to prevent gun violence. That’s a good thing. To try to make it a bad thing is tasteless at the least.

  6. paladin says:

    I see a man who is passionate about what he believes in. I would not call it “fear and paranoia” He said he “feared” he could have just as well said “I worry” But to the anti gun rights people it would sound dumb to say “the gun rights extremist’s spread worry and paranoia” BTW talk about paranoia, everyone should read the comments section of the video, wow I don’t recall ever seeing that kind of hatred and nasty comments on pro gun sites. Talk about fear and paranoia.

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