Feb 01

Gun Free Zones?

gun free zone“Gun free zones”. That term is being thrown about with reckless abandon in the aftermath of the horrific massacre that occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church allegedly at the hands of a hate-filled racist named Dylann Roof. Nine of our fellow citizens were forever removed from this world. These people were the finest among us; decent, loving and deeply religious Americans murdered simply because of their ethnicity. My family and I grieve with the surviving family members; many of whom have forgiven the alleged murderer.

Amidst the outpouring of emotion and sympathy for the families we must also endure the predictable politicization of the tragedy. Our president immediately let fly his usual diatribe against firearms ownership. He suggested that this tragedy might not have happened if congress had enacted his anti-gun proposals. This, of course, is untrue as none of the proposals the President suggested would have impacted the type of weapon used in this crime or the ability of the perpetrator to obtain it. In any case, even this offering by the President cannot match the truly absurd notion suggested by many of our political leaders concerning the extension of “gun free zones” to houses of worship, malls, stadiums etc.

What is a “gun free zone”? Simply stated, under current federal law, it is a felony to carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school. There are a handful of exception but if you knowingly carry a firearm into a school, or within 1,000 feet of a school (sidewalks and roadways are not excluded) you are committing a felony which is punishable by up to five years in prison (18 U.S.C. § 921 (a) (25). This law, introduced by then Senator Joe Biden, promised to make schools safer by keeping them “gun free”. The law was passed in 1990. The Columbine Massacre occurred on April 20, 1999; the horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. It is simply stating the obvious to note that this vaunted federal law didn’t prevent these or other school shootings since passage. What they have done, however, is to allow the prosecution of law-abiding citizens who happened to have a weapon within the “gun free zone” making felons out of citizens whose actions where otherwise legal under the laws of the state in which they live. Now our leaders wish to extend this law to include houses of worship? You might just as well hang up a sign reading “Attack Here: No One Inside Has the Means to Fight Back”.

When did we abdicate our right to self-defense? Perhaps the presence of an armed individual inside the Emanuel African Church would have made no difference in this instance but then again, perhaps it would have. Our president and his family are protected by the secret service and will be for the rest of his life. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a major financial supporter of anti-gun legislation, has twenty-four hour armed security. Why are they entitled to the kind of protection they would deny others? Virtually every house of worship will have some member of the congregation who is active or former law enforcement or military or will have others of good character willing to assume the responsibility of acting in the event of armed attack. Unlike our elected officials, our security does not come from police officers or federal agents; in most instances they are the ones who respond after the attack to investigate and apprehend the perpetrator after an attack. We must remind our political leaders that our personal safety and the safety of our churches, synagogues, schools and malls is not a negotiable political football. We the people are fully capable of protecting ourselves.

They all handle the sword, and are expert in war; every man hath his sword upon his thigh, because of dread in the night.
– Song of Songs Chapter 3:8