With yet another mass shooting in a "gun-free zone," I find myself thinking a great deal about that concept.
The first idea is one that is bouncing around the blogosphere -- the notion that the powers that be that designate such places ought to be held legally liable for the carnage that erupts in them. I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that they are making a promise -- possibly a legally binding one -- that "you don't need to defend yourself when you're here, because we'll protect you." They are using their authority as property owner (or manager) to supplant your right to keep and bear arms.
There's nothing wrong with that; it's perfectly legal and acceptable. Their place, their rules; if you don't like it, go somewhere else.
But it seems to this layman (who's done a smidgen of legal studying on my own) that there's an 'implied warranty" here -- they are taking these steps with the promise that this will make you safer. You are being asked to give up your 2nd Amendment right in the name of greater collective safety.
But it doesn't seem to work out like that. Nearly all of the mass shootings of late have been in "gun-free zones." And the ones that weren't -- at the New Life Church in Colorado and the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia -- were stopped by private citizens (and members of the community being attacked) with their own weapons.
Now for my second thought. If these places aren't going to get rid of their "gun-free zone" status, despite the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that they simply get more people killed, then how can they improve their security where it actually make the people inside safer?
I have a few ideas. And for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to apply them to a college.
First up, they need to absolutely control access to campus. They need to build hefty walls, with security features to keep people from going over, under, or through them. Then they need to put serious security measures on the few entrances through those walls. Metal detectors, hefty locks, repeated identity verification, and the like. No one gets in without going through multiple layers of screenings.
And that's just for people. A college campus is not a self-sufficient community. All entering parcels -- food, clothing, books. electronics, office supplies, everything also needs to go through rigid screening to be sure no weapons are sneaked on to campus.
And at each entrance, there need to be armed guards. Enough armed guards to defeat any attempt by attackers to simply force their way through the security measures.
On campus, there need to be regular patrols by security. They must be omnipresent, and in sufficient numbers to discourage anyone from acting up.
The students themselves must give up certain rights in the name of their security, too. They must be willing to be stopped and searched at any time by the security officers, who must be ever vigilant to guarantee no weapons have gotten through the security measures.
This sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Luckily, we don't have to start from scratch -- a lot of the preparatory R&D has already been done for us.
All we need to do is take the existing plans for maximum security prisons and convert them to college campuses.
The same model can also work for shopping malls, but it'll take a bit more work. The sheer numbers of people who visit them makes the entrance security more of a challenge. Even moving the entrance screening centers away from the mall proper simply means that there will still be hefty crowds outside the secure areas, vulnerable to attack. Instead of getting inside the mal and shooting, the nutjob can just shoot up the lines of people waiting to go through the screening.
That, it seems to me, is what it would take to set up a truly safe "gun-free zone." Anything less just makes these places little more than hunting preserves for psychos.
As was shown at Virginia Tech.
And the Omaha mall.
And Northern Illinois University.
And who knows where next?