No matter which side of the gun debate you stand on, there’s something I wish we could just remove from the gun-free zones discussion altogether.
We hear it every time there’s a shooting.
We all know it’s coming from someone who wants everyone armed at all times. (Well, everyone, that is, except the “bad guys.”)
Though it comes in multiple forms, the little talking point always takes the same basic position: that “gun-free zones” don’t prevent criminals from taking a gun inside.
What always amuses me is the pride with which the statement is made by people who dislike gun-free zones to begin with. They act as if they’ve just discovered the cure for cancer and framed it within one neat little sentence.
There are just two little problems here.
First, everyone knows a sign or a symbol won’t stop a criminal from bringing a gun into an establishment that doesn’t want them there. It doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Even the most stringent anti-gun crowd, the few extremists who might actually enjoy seeing someone’s guns actually taken away, know that calling an area a “gun-free zone” won’t automatically keep guns out.
The other problem, however, is the bigger issue behind “gun-free zones.” It’s the very reason they exist at all. And the reasoning has nothing to do with “keeping guns out.” It’s all about what happens to someone who brings a gun in.
Legislation surrounding “gun free zones” is designed to provide stiffer penalties — in some cases, thousands of dollars in fines and additional years in prison, or both, for people convicted of violating such a zone.
Granted, someone who is suicidal and takes their own life after taking the lives of others is a unique animal, but no level of prosecution will apply in their case, anyway.
But the idea here is to reduce the number of crimes that may potentially happen that involve guns. If you rob someone with a gun in a gun-free zone, your punishment will likely be much more severe, hopefully reducing the chances you’ll do so.
If we’re going to have an honest discussion about laws with which we disagree, we should at least be honest enough to talk about what the law is designed to do, not making up a strawman argument alleging a goal that no law could possibly accomplish.