Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sheriff Clarke, gun-free zones, and what may actually stop mass shootings

Milwaukee Co. Sheriff said gun-free zones were to blame, but Oregon colleges don't have gun-free zones

In the wake of the mass killings that took place at an Oregon community college this past week, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke had a solution that he was happy to share with FOX News viewers.

His answer wasn’t all too surprising: more guns and less restrictions.

“We should get rid of these gun-free zones,” he told host Megyn Kelly. “I think it’s heartless to expect people in these gun-free zones to be lined up and slaughtered with no way to defend themselves. These gun-free zones have become killing fields. That is the one constant in all of these mass murders.”

He isn’t alone in this thinking. Within hours of the shooting that killed 13 individuals at Umpqua Community College, cable channel pundits and presidential candidates were already propping out the gun-free zone argument, touting the campus as being targeted because it didn’t allow its students to carry weapons.

There’s just one problem with that viewpoint: no campus, community college or university in the state of Oregon is a gun-free zone. None.

So Clarke and others like him are proposing to change...nothing. They argue that gun-free zones are to blame for this latest tragedy, but it’s just the opposite: the area they’re talking about allowed guns. And that allowance didn’t stop the shooter, as they claimed it would, even when a concealed carry permit holder was just a few hundred yards away.

Concealed carry on its own is a terrible anti-crime policy. As crime has gone up more than 20 percent since it was implemented in the state, it’s clear to see that it’s failed to make Wisconsin “safer” as Gov. Scott Walker promised it would. And studies have shown that concealed carry doesn’t decrease crime. In fact, just the opposite may hold true: there may be a correlation between an increase in gun crimes and concealed carry laws.

Conservatives tend to criticize gun restrictions as trying to put a “feel good” policy on top of a problem that can’t be solved so easily. Meanwhile, they try to shift focus of attacks onto other issues. It isn’t bad people with guns: it’s music lyrics, video games, television and movies. They were even willing to throw the Confederate flag under the bus in order to protect their Second Amendment rights from being the subject of debate.

But those restricting policies, which they abhor and criticize to no end, actually work -- they’ve been successful in places like Australia, which saw it’s own violent gun attack in the 1990s. Since enacting stricter gun laws following the incident, their violent crimes have diminished.

And the idea that more guns will lead to less crime, though still celebrated extensively by gun rights enthusiasts, is also getting a closer look. Studies now conclude that more guns actually leads to MORE crime, and that states with higher regulations have seen a decrease in violence.

Sheriff Clarke and others like him are willing to parade around these tired NRA slogans in order to push forward a pro-gun agenda. These ideas aren’t just shortsighted, they’re just plain wrong, in more ways than one.

Clarke suggested that the real reason that 13 people lost their lives was because the immediate geographical area didn’t allow themselves to defend against a violent attacker. That area DID allow such a defense -- and it still failed to prevent a tragedy.

Shooters don’t target gun-free zones. There’s no credible evidence to suggest that they do. But when shooters come into zones that allow individuals to carry weapons, and it STILL fails to stop a “bad guy with a gun,” what then? Do we reassess the meme? Or are we so entrenched in retelling it that we will, as Sheriff Clarke did, repeat it without caring if it’s true or not?

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