A column at USAToday.com is taking aim at the notion that those who commit mass shootings specifically target gun-free zones because they know that law-abiding citizens will respect the signs telling them no guns are allowed on the premises.
The author of the piece, Mark Follman, cites ongoing studies that he and others have been publishing at MotherJones.com:
“Among the 62 mass shootings over the past 30 years that we studied, not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns. To the contrary, in many of the cases there was clearly another motive for the choice of location. For example, 20 were workplace shootings, most of which involved perpetrators who felt wronged by employers and colleagues. Last September, when a troubled man working at a sign manufacturer in Minneapolis was told he would be let go, he pulled out a 9mm Glock and killed six people and injured another before putting a bullet in his own head. Similar tragedies unfolded at a beer distributor in Connecticut in 2010 and at a plastics factory in Kentucky in 2008.”
He also points out that many of these shooters end up shooting themselves or committing suicide-by-cop, deducing that these people are not exactly afraid of dying. So why, Follman asks, would they care if they are the only ones with a gun in a gun-free zone?
Because someone who is intent on killing a lot of people will want to kill as many people as possible before being stopped. If he goes into an area that allows people to carry guns, he’ll fail at his goal of killing dozens of people because someone will put a bullet in his head before he can make any progress. So that’s one very obvious reason why a shooter would prefer a gun-free zone.
However, whether psychotic shooters specifically target so-called gun-free zones is totally irrelevant. Whether gun-free zones attract shooters has no bearing on the effect of gun-free zones. What matters is that shooters cannot easily be stopped in gun-free zones. Whether they attract shooters doesn’t matter when the fact remains that shootings that occur in gun-free zones are extremely difficult to stop specifically because they are in gun-free zones.
Let’s humor Follman and say he’s correct that gun-free zones don’t attract shooters and that shooters don’t target gun-free zones. Okay, fine. So what? What does that have to do with the fact that law-abiding, rule-following gun-owners will not have guns in gun-free zones and therefore the shooters have free-reign to mow down whomever they please?
Such studies as Follman’s serve no practical purpose other than to distract from the true effects of putting up signs proclaiming to would-be murderers, “Hey, no guns are allowed in this area. If you were planning on committing a massacre, we apologize for the convenience.”