Much has been said about gun free zones over the last several months. To date, Trek Tech Black has remained silent. As our president laments his inability to implement additional gun control measures, the time has come to break that silence and take a hard look at the efficacy of one of the most sweeping gun control measures in recent history, gun free zones.
To ensure that we’re all on the same page, let’s define “efficacy.”
Efficacy – noun, the ability to produce a desired or intended result
Let’s also take a look at the “desired or intended result” of gun free zones. The United Nations recently produced a paper, under their UNODA (United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs) umbrella, entitled The Gun -Free Zone – A Tool to Prevent and Reduce Armed Violence.
Since the United Nations is the single largest organization promoting gun free zones, let’s take a look at their “desired or intended” result. According to the paper mentioned above, gun free zones are “geographically limited spaces where the carrying or possession of guns by civilians is prohibited in order to reduce armed violence and promote public safety.”
The apparent desired result of gun free zones is to “reduce armed violence and promote public safety.” It is through this lens that we will analyze the efficacy of gun free zones.
The next question that must be asked is, “How do we measure the efficacy of gun free zones?” It is virtually impossible to prove a negative, i.e. that violent crime does not take place because of gun free zones.
We can easily see that violent crime, as a whole, has been on the decline in the United States for several years. However, there are any number of factors that may have a causal effect or a correlation to this decline. For example, the proliferation of concealed carry permits has seen an exponential increase over the same period as the decline in violent crime. Does this mean that civilian concealed carry of firearms reduces violent crime? Perhaps, but not necessarily so. Further study is required.
One method for determining the efficacy of gun free zones is to look at the number of undesirable incidents that take place in gun free zones. In other words, if the desired result of gun free zones is to “reduce armed violence,” how often, and to what extent, does armed violence take place in gun free zones?
CNN recently produced a piece detailing the 27 Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History.
- Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007 – 32 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Sandy Hook Elementary School, December 14, 2012 – 27 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Luby’s Cafateria in Killeen, TX, October 16, 1991 – 23 Killed (Presumed Gun Free Zone due to Texas State Law)
- McDonalds in San Ysidro, CA, July 18, 1984 – 21 Killed (Presumed Gun Free Zone based on California State Law)
- University of Texas, August 1, 1966 – 18 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Post Office in Edmund, OK, August 20, 1986 – 14 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Ft. Hood, TX, November 5, 2009 – 13 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Binghamton, NY Community Center, April 3, 2009 – 13 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Columbine High School, April 20, 1999 – 13 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Wah Mee Social Club, Seattle, WA, February 18, 1983 – 13 Killed (Illegal Gambling Club; Functionally not a Gun Free Zone)
- Wilkes-Barre, PA Banks Family, September 25, 1982 – 13 Killed (Not in a ‘Geographically Limited Space’; Not in a Gun Free Zone)
- Camden, NJ 32nd Street, September 5, 1949 – 13 Killed (Pre-dates Gun Free Zones)
- Washington Navy Yard, September 16, 2013 – 12 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Aurora, CO Theater, July 20, 2012 – 12 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Atlanta, GA Home & Brokerages – 12 Killed (The killer’s family were killed in their home; 9 others were killed at two brokerages that were Gun Free Zones; Not in a ‘Geographically Limited Space’)
- Geneva, AL McLendon Family, March 10, 2009 – 10 Killed (Killings were not in a public building; Not in a Gun Free Zone; Not in a ‘Geographically Limited Space’)
- Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC, June 17, 2015 – 9 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Red Lake High School, Red Lake, MN, March 21, 2005 – 9 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- General Motors Acceptance Corp, Jacksonville, FL, June 18, 1990 – 9 Killed (Unknown if GMAC was a Gun Free Zone)
- Salon Meritage, Seal Beach, CA, October 12, 2011 – 8 Killed (Presumed Gun Free Zone based on California State Law)
- Hartford Distributors, Manchester, CT, August 3, 2010 – 8 Killed (Unknown if this was a Gun Free Zone)
- Appomattox, VA, January 19, 2010 – 8 Killed (Killing took place in a home; Not a Gun Free Zone)
- Nursing Home, Carthage, NC, March 29, 2009 – 8 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- Westroads Mall, Omaha, NE, December 5, 2007 – 8 Killed (Gun Free Zone)
- San Francisco, CA Law Firm, July 1, 1993 – 8 Killed (Presumed Gun Free Zone based on California Law)
- Standard Gravure Corporation, Louisville, KY, September 14, 1989 – 8 Killed (Unknown if this was a Gun Free Zone)
- Miami, FL Machine Shop, August 20, 1982 – 8 Killed (Shooter shot by witness; Not a Gun Free Zone)
- Gun Free Zones: 13 Incidents, 188 Killed
- Presumed Gun Free Zones: 4 Incidents, 60 Killed
- Not a Geographically Limited Area: 3 Incidents, 35 Killed
- Not in a Gun Free Zone: 3 Incidents, 29 Killed
- Unknown Status: 3 Incidents, 25 Killed
- Pre-dates Gun Free Zones: 1 Incident, 13 Killed
A total of 350 lives were taken in these 27 events.
Seventeen of the incidents (nearly 63%) took place in known or presumed gun free zones. A total of 248 were killed in those incidents – accounting for nearly 71% of those killed. All other incident categories totaled 102 killed.
Nine of the top ten worst mass shooting murder in modern U.S. history all took place in gun free or presumed gun free zones. These nine killing sprees accounted for 174 deaths out of a total of 350. Number ten on the list was a gang-related shootout in an illegal gambling club.
If gun free zones were, indeed, efficacious, 0% of the individuals killed would have been killed in gun free zones. Of course, in the real world, 100% efficacy is highly unlikely. Let’s be fair. If gun free zones were as efficacious as any of the other zones, only 10% of the individuals killed would have been killed in gun free zones. (The next worst ‘zone’ type was an area that was not geographically limited. This ‘zone’ accounted for 10% of the individuals killed.)
By any measure, the efficacy of gun free zones is miserable. (I’m being polite.)
After a seventeen year hiatus from gun control research, President Obama issued an executive order in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting that once again allowed the CDC to conduct gun control-related research.
The cat has been out of the bag for some time and most of our readers know that, “… the [CDC] Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”
Not only is there no conclusive evidence that gun control laws prevent violence, one of the most sweeping laws and most significant “violence prevention” methodologies – Gun Free Zones – is so ineffective that it accounts for 71% of the lives lost in the 27 most deadly mass shootings in modern U.S. history.
The time has long passed to repeal Gun Free Zone laws. While there may or may not be a causal relationship between gun free zones and mass shootings, the absolute ineffectiveness of these feel good measures is reason enough not to limit law abiding citizens’ right to self defense.