This morning, 9 November 2015, “Authorities in New York City say three people have been shot, one fatally, in midtown Manhattan near busy Penn Station.” Bearing in mind that New York City is basically a gun-free zone, what does this event have to do with gun-free zones? In this case, there are two points that can be made.
First, gun-free zones aren’t. The most common excuse I hear from store owners posting “No Firearms” signs is that they want to ensure that their customers are safe. Well, I guess that is a true if you consider which customers are going to be the safest. If I, as a law abiding citizen, enter a gun-free zone and obey the law by not carrying, how safe am I? I am perfectly safe as long as everyone in the store is a law abiding citizen and not carrying. However, bad guys are called bad guys because they are not law abiding and, frankly, don’t care about the sign on the door that tells us that the store does not want guns in their store. In fact, that sign tells Mr. Badguy that this is a perfectly safe environment for him to ply his Mr. Badguy trade because there will not be a responsibly armed citizen around to stop him.
Most holdups that involved a firearm probably do not involve a shooting. That’s good but let’s look at the mental state of Mr. Badguy. Unless he is an extremely experienced serial criminal he is probably nervous and scared out of his wits. Guys like that have little actual awareness of how they are holding and manipulating their chosen handgun. Just one little startling distraction can easily cause him to pull the trigger, whether he intended to or not. Of course, he is still safe because there is not a responsibly armed citizen to stop him. In this case, someone is very likely to be shot and Mr. Badguy walks or runs out the store and the manhunt is underway.
We can also look at a scenario that makes the mainstream giddy with anticipation, the mass shooting. Three examples from months/years past come immediately to mind; Columbine High School, 20 April 1999, Aurora theater, 20 July 2012, and Sandy Hook elementary school, 14 December 2012; They all have several major factors in common. The fact that jumps out in all of these is that they occurred in gun-free zones. The Columbine shootings served to change police tactics in these situations. Before and during the Columbine event the police had to wait for backup before entering the building. That enabled the shooters to continue on their way doing whatever they wanted. The teachers and students were at the mercy of two Mr. Badguys. They didn’t fare so well. Today, as I understand it, police do not wait for backup in mass shooting situations, but rather, they enter the area to begin the dangerous task of neutralizing the threat.
In all of these cases, as well as many more, the bad guys were mentally unstable and on some form of mostly legally prescribed antidepressants. The victims were sitting ducks, unable to defend themselves. An even more egregious situation was the stabbing at the UC Merced campus, 4 November 2015. In this situation, not only were the students and faculty unarmed, the campus police were likewise unarmed. They had to wait until the county sheriff’s deputies arrived.
The second point I would like to make is that when you go into a business, school, church, or any other public establishment, you have an expectation of safety. When you go to Sprouts or Panera Bread to shop or get a cup of coffee, you expect to do so without having to worry about someone with a mental disorder coming in to engage in socially unacceptable behavior, like holding the place up and possibly making you a target. Establishments that post “No Firearms” signs tell me that they are taking full responsibility for your/my safety. Is that really the case? I doubt it. These businesses take the “ostrich” defense to the extreme. That is the primary reason I do not patronize gun-free zone businesses.
There are three ways to ensure your safety in an environment where gun rights are increasingly under attack. First; as I have already mentioned, do not go into gun-free zones. This will lessen the likelihood that you will be caught without the ability to defend yourself because there is very little chance the store will be able to protect you.
Second; get trained. I have had many conversations with people who say they have a gun and are completely safe. They are convinced that just because they have a gun, no bad guy would ever dare try anything; Really? I never stop training. Every class I teach, I learn something, mostly from students just by the questions they ask. If you are going to carry a gun, or even if you don’t carry one on a daily basis, are you trained to use it effectively? Can you defend your home in the case of a home invasion? Do you have a plan and practice it on a regular basis?
Third; if you find yourself in a defensive shooting situation, you are going to have to talk to the police/sheriff. Immediately after a defensive shooting is not the time to spill your innermost feelings to a law enforcement officer. It may take several hours for your brain to re-boot and have the events come clearly into focus. You need to call an attorney immediately after a defensive shooting. This is the reason I am a client of US Law Shield. The first call I will make after a defensive shooting will be to the police, but the next call I will make is to my attorney at US Lawshield. It is comforting to know that I am covered from a legal standpoint if I have to use my personal defense firearm, baseball bat, or a sharpened Popsicle stick. This is the reason I have partnered with them and make their services available from my website.
Hopefully, you and I will never find ourselves in a situation where we will have to think of these matters, but in this increasingly dangerous world, there are no guarantees.
I will leave you with one thought. Surveys of criminals convicted of violent crimes in many prisons have shown that the greatest fear of these criminals is the responsibly armed citizen. They don’t worry about the police, because the police are not on the scene at the time of the holdup, but the responsibly armed citizen may be.
Are you trained and prepared?
As always, your questions, comments, and discussions are welcome,