Hamilton: Gun-free zones, more harm than help
June 23, 2016
The Orlando massacre is another horrifying example that gun-free zones don’t work. A sign at the entrance to Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub declared that firearms were not permitted inside. Even though an armed law-enforcement officer was on site, somehow, the Islamic jihadist, Omar Mateen, wearing a suicide vest, entered the club with a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic carbine (the barrel alone is 16-inches long), several fully-loaded magazines, and a two-pound, Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol with an 4.48-inch barrel.
While Omar Mateen was not deterred by the sign declaring the nightclub a gun-free zone, it appears any patrons licensed to carry a concealed weapon were deterred from carrying their weapons by the management’s desire to create a gun-free zone. So, in effect, the Pulse’s patrons were relying on the club’s promise of their being able to socialize safely in a gun-free environment rather than rely on their own inherent right of self-defense enforced, if need be, by their Constitutional 2d Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
So, where are these gun-free zones so often targeted by the mass killers?: All federal facilities, correctional facilities, state, and local government offices, financial institutions, public or private schools, buses, most colleges campuses, and athletic fields. Plus, some private businesses, such as the Pulse Nightclub, declare themselves as gun-free establishments. But has anyone noticed that the Ft. Hood, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, and Orlando killings took place within gun-free zones?
Let’s say a restaurant posts a sign saying patrons may not bring in firearms. If you comply and enter the restaurant, are you giving up your fundamental right to self-defense and giving up your ability to exercise your Constitutional right to “keep and bear arms?” Is your compliance in exchange for the belief that the restaurateur is going to keep you safe from gun violence? We ask. You decide.
Here are three steps designed to reduce gun violence in public places: 1. Congress should establish strict standards for the operation of gun-free zones that would mandate well-trained armed guards and metal detectors. 2. Where these standards cannot be met, then honest, law-abiding citizens, who have earned concealed weapons permits, should not have their 2d Amendment rights restricted. 3. Congress and the Courts should remove the Obama Administration’s handcuffs on the FBI’s ability to pursue investigative leads where Muslims are involved.
Steps One and Two would reduce the number of venues in which mass killers would feel free to kill and, in turn, allow law enforcement to focus on fewer venues. Step three would allow the thorough investigation and possible apprehension of Islamist “known wolves” such as Omar Mateen before they can strike.
Why didn’t the FBI apprehend Omar Mateen? Debra Heine, writing for pjmedia.com, says: “…It’s hardly a big secret that President Obama from the moment he arrived at the White House put the kibosh on any discussion of radical Islam as a security problem, even in classified channels. In 2009, the administration banned politically loaded words like “jihad” even in classified Intelligence Community assessments discussing terrorism – a message that was received loud and clear in the counterterrorism community. Missing the next 9/11 could be survived, career-wise, while accusations of Islamophobia would not be with Barack Obama in the White House.” Go figure.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the Infantry School, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.