1950 to 2010: Not One Mass Public Shooting Where Citizens Could Be Armed
In his latest book, The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies, John R. Lott Jr. points shows that from 1950 to 2010, not one mass public shooting took place in an area where citizens could arm themselves in self-defense.
In other words, gun-free zones or gun-restricted zones were the targets of choice.
This flies in the face of the 21st-century gun control movement’s claims that gun-free zones do not endanger innocents. It exposes the fallacy of arguments that present attackers as uninterested parties who choose a target by chance, never taking into account whether that target contains people who can shoot back.
According to Lott: “From 1950 to 2010, not a single mass public shooting occurred in an area where general civilians are allowed to carry guns. Over the entire period from 1950 through February 2016, just over one percent of mass public shootings occurred in such places.” Think about it—from 1950 through February of this year, “just over one percent of mass public shootings” occurred outside a gun-free zone.
And for those who think Lott is just making this stuff up as he goes along, he makes sure to provide documentation—where possible—of the decision-making process that guided many of the most high-profile attackers in choosing their targets. Those decisions prove to include avoiding would-be victims who will be able to shoot back.
For example, a February 2016 wiretap of Khalil Abu-Rayyan, a would-be attacker in Detroit, caught him admitting that he wanted to attack a church because “people are not allowed to carry guns in church.” Dylann Roof, the alleged gunman behind the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church attack, first planned to attack the College of Charleston but switched plans and attacked the church after realizing the college “had armed guards.” Aurora movie theater gunman James Holmes used his diary to explain that he did not choose the closet theater or the biggest theater for his attack. Rather, he chose the gun-free theater. Lott writes: “He… selected the only theater within twenty minutes of his apartment that banned permitted concealed handguns.”
Consider John Russell Houser, the alleged gunman behind the July 23, 2015, Lafayette theater attack. Lott observes that Houser allegedly “attacked one of only two movie theaters in his area that banned permitted concealed handguns.”
Attacking in a gun-free zone gives the aggressor the one thing that is key to bloodshed and terror—and that one thing is time. With enough time, the attacker can kill large numbers of people regardless of the kind of gun(s) he uses, and regardless of whether his magazines are “high capacity” or not. Lott illustrates this by pointing out that Nidal Hasan, the November 5, 2009, Fort Hood attacker, was armed with just a pistol and a revolver, but was able to fire “220 shots” because those at whom he shot were not armed with anything.
Lott’s main point in this section of The War Against Guns is simple: “Mass public shooters avoid places where victims can defend themselves.” They prey on the unarmed as a wild beast preys on weaker creatures, killing as many as possible in order to increase “the publicity” the attack will receive.