Monday, December 30, 2013

Mandating Effective Gun Free Zones

Kansas recently passed legislation requiring that local governments that ban the legal carry of concealed weapons in public buildings, do so for people who ignore the law as well.  The logic is simple: If a person is willing to do illegal harm with a weapon, then ignoring a simple sign that forbids people from having weapons on the premises will not be much of a deterrent.  This creates a situation where only those who are willing to ignore the law are armed.  John Lott has noted that all of the public mass shootings since 1950, except one, have been in places where the public is not allowed to carry guns, "Gun Free Zones".    Second amendment supporters often refer to such areas as "Defenseless Victim Zones".

The Kansas response is to require enforcement of "Gun Free Zones" in public buildings.   If a government entity wishes to prevent the public from carrying guns in a public building, they can do so, but they have to put in place security measures such as guards and machines that are capable of detecting weapons, not a simple sign.
Wichita will open most of its public buildings – including libraries, recreational centers, CityArts and the Wichita Art Museum – to people carrying concealed guns under a new state law.

Fearful of lawsuits, the City Council voted 4-2 to allow concealed-carry in all but 16 of 107 city-owned buildings effective Jan. 1
Those who oppose the right of the people to bear arms have also opposed making the "Gun Free Zones" effective.   They claim that the cost is prohibitive.  That is partly the point, to inject reality into the debate.   If you want to be secure from guns, a mere sign is only effective against those who are law abiding.  From, Lavonta Williams, a city council member, stated an ideological reason for the ban on legal concealed weapons:
“My thing is the kids,” Williams said. “What are we teaching them? Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you’re saying the outlaws are carrying so we should carry, then two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Many proponents of the measure say that citizens carrying arms is not only a moral right, it is a fundamental human right enumerated in the Constitution.

Read more here:
Kansas is the first state to put such a law into effect.   Arizona passed a similar measure in 2012, but Governor Jan Brewer vetoed it.   Wisconsin considered a similar provision as part of its gun law reform in 2011, but it was ultimately removed during the legislative process.

The primary argument put forward by opponents is that the measure creates a costly burden for those who want to maintain those largely symbolic "Gun Free Zone" signs.   But, the cost only occurs if the signs are kept up.   Then the proponents of "Gun Free Zones" have to show that they are serious about preventing dangerous criminals from having guns in those zones, not primarily interested in disarming armed citizens.

After the attack by Islamic terrorists in Nairobi, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble noted that open societies have  to make a choice between living with extremely tough security measures, and having an armed citizenry.
"Societies have to think about how they're going to approach the problem," Noble said. "One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you're going to have to pass through extraordinary security."
Static defenses, such as these security measures, have generally proved ineffective over the long run.  They are costly to maintain, and can be defeated by dedicated opponents.  They cannot be extended over all of society.  To do so results in a police state or totalitarian system.   They have the advantage, however, of clarifying the reality of the choices.

©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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