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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Vince Vaughn Is Actually Right about “Gun Free” Zones

Just saying "no guns" only stops people who obey signs

Vince Vaughn, Ron Paul supporter and star of the forthcoming second season of True Detective, has been making waves with his comments on Edward Snowden and guns in a wide-ranging interview with GQ magazine.

One section that has gun control activists fulminating (and many libertarians swooning) is his comments on gun rights and, especially, on guns in schools:

I support people having a gun in public full stop, not just in your home. … All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. 

Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation.

In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds. …

Of course [guns should be allowed in schools]. You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights.

We usually shouldn’t pay any notice when celebrities talk about politics, for obvious reasons, but this is worth the attention because Vaughn actually has a point about “gun free” zones.

The Independence Institute’s David Kopel has pointed out that just saying that an area is “gun free” doesn’t actually make it so. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, Kopel wrote,

The bucolic campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., would seem to have little in common with the Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City. Yet both share an important characteristic, common to the site of almost every other notorious mass murder in recent years: They are “gun-free zones.” …

In Virginia, universities aren’t “gun-free zones” by statute, but college officials are allowed to impose anti-gun rules. The result is that mass murderers know where they can commit their crimes.

Private property owners also have the right to prohibit lawful gun possession. And some shopping malls have adopted anti-gun rules. Trolley Square was one, as announced by an unequivocal sign, “No weapons allowed on Trolley Square property.”

In February of this year, a young man walked past the sign prohibiting him from carrying a gun on the premises and began shooting people who moments earlier were leisurely shopping at Trolley Square. He killed five.

Fortunately, someone else – off-duty Ogden, Utah, police officer Kenneth Hammond – also did not comply with the mall’s rules. … He bought time for the local police to respond, while stopping the gunman from hunting down other victims.

At Virginia Tech’s sprawling campus in southwestern Va., the local police arrived at the engineering building a few minutes after the start of the murder spree… Cho committed suicide when he realized he’d soon be confronted by the police. But by then, 30 people had been murdered.

Kopel isn’t anti-gun free zones, however. Rather, he’s anti-fake gun free zones. On the Free Thoughts podcast, he argues, “Gun free zones I think are fine — as long they really exist.”

In Colorado, like most of the country, we have a fair process for law-abiding adults to get a permit to carry a handgun for protection. But the state statute says, “What about government buildings?”

And the answer is, if a government building wants to ban licensed carry in there, they can. They can have a gun free zone. They just have to make it real. Which means, at every public entrance, you have metal detectors, and you have armed guards.

That will work. Once you’re inside the Department of Motor Vehicles, you know that nobody is going to be carrying a gun because we’ve checked to make sure about that.

What is harmful — drastically harmful — is the pretend gun free zone, where you put up a sign that says “no guns allowed.” The only people who will obey that are the law-abiding people. And it means for the criminal you’ve got a great opportunity of unarmed victims.

Real gun free zones are fine; guns really shouldn’t be allowed some places. But pretend gun free zones are a dangerous illusion. Sometimes even Hollywood celebrities can see that.

Check out the rest of the podcast below and Vaughn’s GQ interview here.

  • Daniel Bier is the executive editor of The Skeptical Libertarian.