The Gunman in a Gun-Free Zone

I realize that crime is happening everywhere, all the time, but when the offense occurs close to home, you tend to pay a little more attention. Most times, it gets people thinking. Sometimes it opens up conversations or discussions. For me, a recent bank-robbery-turned-hostage-situation close to our area inspired me to chat with my children — again — about safety … and also about gun-free zones.

My 14-year-old daughter understands that bad guys don’t care about obeying laws, and that, thus, signs that ban guns aren’t effective. But I was curious to see what my 7-year-old son thought. Outside of our local bank, I pointed out the “no guns allowed” sign on the door. My son read it out loud and stated that it meant that I could not take my gun inside. “But who is going to obey that sign?” I asked. “You know that I will. But I am a law-abiding citizen. I’m a good person who listens and obeys. What about criminals? Bad guys do bad things anyway, so would they care about a sign on a door?”

This got him thinking for a while. And finally he concluded that a sign banning guns would not make any difference to a bad guy. That’s exactly what we law-abiding citizens keep saying. And that, in its simplest form, is why we are so against gun-free zones. They just don’t work. And honestly (especially at a bank), wouldn’t businesses want to encourage law-abiding, responsibly armed citizens to carry their firearms? That way, if a criminal does come in with intent to do harm, perhaps there would be a better chance to avoid or deter a bad situation. As a friend of mine recently commented, “If I know I can walk into a place with a gun … and everyone is going to be under my control, what is to motivate me to not do it? Or if I know I can walk into a place with a gun … and any number of guns in return will be pointed right back at me, do you think I would have the same motivation as the previous scenario?”

Of course, I don’t know all the details of the recent hostage situation, but I do know that the gun-free zone signage on the credit union’s doors (near a gun-free college campus) did not stop this particular criminal from entering … with a gun. And I can’t help but wonder that if armed citizens had been carrying in that bank, would it still have escalated to eleven innocent people being taken hostage at gunpoint? (Thankfully, police, SWAT and the FBI surrounded the suspect and took him into custody, with no harm coming to anyone involved.)

I believe that our right to bear arms provides us with a unique opportunity that enables us to progress from a dependent or a victim … to a survivor or a protector. But this right also demands a lot of responsibility. Just because we are granted a freedom does not mean we are excused of stupidity or carelessness. The armed need to be informed. We need to make wise decisions. And we should always be prepared. And if logic holds, we should also be wary of the ineffective gun-free zones.

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