What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
Today’s senseless and tragic murder of over two dozen innocent people in a Connecticut school once again brings into focus the ease with which irrational or mentally unstable individuals can cause others harm. And, unsurprisingly, this horrific event serves as fodder for the gun control lobby to call for tighter regulations of the weapons used in this crime.
Their advocacy is misguided. It’s important to note that criminals, by definition, are not concerned with laws. Prohibiting the use of guns in a certain place, or making it a crime to use a magazine that contains a certain number rounds, or any number of other regulations only serve as impediments for peaceful, law-abiding individuals looking to defend themselves. And while many of these regulations are little more than an annoyance, such as delaying the waiting time for a person to receive their gun after a background check, some of the prohibitions prove fatal.
This is the case with so-called “gun free zones,” whereby legislatures or other entities outright prohibit the possession and/or use of a gun in a certain geographical area. Sadly, many of the recent mass murders have all occurred in such places. Ft. Hood, the Aurora movie theater, Trolley Square, Virginia Tech, the Oregon mall shooting just days ago—these and a depressingly long list of mass shootings share a common trait in that they occurred in locations where access to guns was severely restricted if not completely prohibited. Economist John Lott explains further:
It is not just recent killings that are occurring in these gun-free zones. The Columbine High School shooting left 13 murdered in 1999; Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, had 23 who were fatally shot by a deranged man in 1991; and a McDonald’s in Southern California had 21 people shot dead in 1984.
Nor are these horrible incidents limited to just gun-free zones in the U.S. In 1996, Martin Bryant killed 35 people in Port Arthur, Australia. In the last half-dozen years, European countries — including France, Germany and Switzerland — have experienced multiple-victim shootings. The worst in Germany resulted in 17 deaths; in Switzerland, one attack claimed the lives of 14 regional legislators.
At some point you would think the media would notice that something is going on here, that these murderers aren’t just picking their targets at random. And this pattern isn’t really too surprising. Most people understand that guns deter criminals.
If a killer were stalking your family, would you feel safer putting a sign out front announcing, “This home is a gun-free zone”? But that is what all these places did.
In the case of Connecticut where today’s shootings occurred, the trend is consistent: teachers and educational personnel in that state are generally prohibited from carrying a gun to defend themselves and the students in their care.
It is natural to respond to these types of situations with rhetorical or probing questions regarding what can be done to prevent future occurrences. Enacting more restrictions on the access to guns only exacerbates the very condition that has allowed these mass murderers to implement their carnage. Gun control doesn’t work; criminals will always find a way to do their nefarious needs, as a Chinese attacker demonstrated today by killing many people with a knife.
As I explain in the self-defense chapter of Latter-day Responsibility, stories like these generate massive news coverage because they are shocking and tragic and captivate our collective attention. But roughly two million successful uses of a gun in self-defense occur annually in America, and very, very few of these stories ever make the news. Gun-wielding individuals either prevent a mass murder while the number of victims is low, or they defend themselves against an attacker before he can commit his evil deed—whatever the case, the ability to deter a threat with a gun prevents the very circumstances being plastered all over the media today.
Many innocent people died today, and we should mourn their loss. In the wake of such a tragedy, we should fight back against the idiotic cry for further gun control and demand the repeal of laws that infringe upon the individual right to lawful defense. In short, we should restore logic and common sense to correct what has proven to be an insane policy of gun-free zones.