Separating Emotion from Logic on “Gun Free Zones”

Debate is raging across Idaho as the legislature considers a bill that would allow guns on university grounds. It’s an emotional issue, and perhaps for that very reason, we should strip away the emotion and consider the issue logically.

eliminate-gun-free-zones-battaile-politics-1357772357It seems that a disproportionate share of mass shootings occur in commercial establishments or school grounds clearly marked as “Gun Free” zones. As a sentient people, we are repulsed, angered, saddened, and outraged at such heinous acts. Perhaps the problem is more related to how “Gun Free” zones attract the attention of the delusional and disaffected who are intent on making a name for themselves.

Every shooting in a school is done illegally per federal law (1995 Gun Free School Zones Act). For those intent on inflicting harm, nothing’s quite so appealing as a gun free zone, for they know all the law-abiding citizens are going to be compliant, giving the perpetrator a veritable shooting gallery to work with, unfettered and undeterred from his mayhem by a legally armed citizen. In short, criminals aren’t the least deterred by gun free zones, and if anything, they’re likely to consider any signage indicating a gun free zone as a welcome sign.

The desire to keep guns far away from innocents, especially on school grounds, is instinctive, yet must be approached logically rather than emotionally, based on empirical data. And there is a lot of it available.

Psycho-Pete-5901The city of Chicago currently has the most restrictive gun control laws on the books, and has been declared a “gun free zone” where handguns are banned, yet it is the bloodiest city in the world in terms of gun-related deaths. The city averages 40 deaths per month from guns, nearly 500 every year. Chicago’s murder rate is 19.4 per 100,000, which is by far the highest rate in the nation, at nearly 3 times New York which is at 6, and nearly 2 ½ times Los Angeles’ 7.5.

In fact, Chicago ranks as the number one deadliest Alpha city (significant urban center in the global economic system) on the planet. Since it is no longer possible for citizens to legally own handguns within city limits, the only ones who still have them are criminals. It doesn’t appear gun control works for Chicago. In fact, the city illustrates how correct the aphorism is that if guns are outlawed, only the outlaws have guns. The law-abiding citizens do not.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2003 thoroughly analyzed fifty-one in-depth studies dealing with gun control. Those studies included everything from the effectiveness of gun bans to laws requiring gunlocks. From their objective analysis, they “found no discernible effect on public safety by any of the measures we commonly think of as ‘gun control.’”

gun-free-zone-cartoonSince gun control doesn’t work, let’s look at increasing the ability of citizens to protect and defend themselves. Simi Valley, California is consistently listed among the safest of American cities. They have all of California’s gun control laws in force, but locals know it as the home to a lot of police officers from neighboring communities. Nothing like trained and armed homeowners to keep a community virtually crime free.

In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia, witnessing an increase in local crime, did something counterintuitive to the likes of Chicago and New York; they passed an ordinance requiring heads of households, with some exceptions, to own a handgun. Crime dropped precipitously, and has stayed down. So much so, that Family Circle selected the town as one of the 10 best in the nation to raise a family in.

Our problems with violence and mass shootings have much more to do with cultural and societal issues, mental illness, and a lack of ability on the part of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Guns are not the root of the problem. Our nation was brought to its knees eleven years ago by 19 fanatics armed with box-cutters. The tool of destruction is not the perpetrator; the person using or misusing it is.

Gun control has proven impotent in curbing the problem, and “gun free zones” are absurd, since they practically advertise themselves to be potential venues of mayhem and violence. More gun control is not a solution, but only serves as a Band-Aid to our emotions so we feel like we’re doing something. The problems are much deeper in our society than Band-Aids can cure.

gun-free-cartoon-3The emotional aspect of the issue that we cannot ignore is how the students feel. They must be able to feel safe while at school, and they likely wouldn’t feel safer knowing that anyone can come on campus toting a weapon. The way the legislation is drafted, it is only licensed and authorized personnel who can carry a weapon, which should allay such concerns.

The allowance of licensed and legally authorized personnel carrying a firearm on university grounds is logical. But let’s change the signage at all of our schools. Let’s remove the signs that are so inviting to malcontents and those intending to wreak havoc, and rather than advertise them as gun-free zones, let’s post “These grounds protected by armed and trained personnel. No other weapons allowed.” It may or may not serve as a deterrent, but at least it’s not a welcome sign like “gun-free zone” is!

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration.  He can be reached at


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Richard Larsen

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at

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  1. Richard. Great article. It is sad that we conservatives keep preaching this kind of logic to the point it is almost a cliché and yet the nimrods in positions of authority continue to “do the right thinnnnng!” That is what one of my senators told me when he voted for the failing gun measure that the Senate Tyrant, Harry Reid, finally just pulled from the floor.

    The truth of the matter is that law enforcement is not responsible for protecting us. They cannot! Their job is to enforce the law. They arrest bad guys and collect evidence to put them in jail. If it was their responsibility to protect us we could legally sue them every time something bad happened to us.

    But in our warped society we have come to rely on Experts for everything – even things we shouldn’t. I will say this in no uncertain terms – I HATE EXPERTS! It is the Experts in Congress and the Administrative Bureaucracy and the nincompoop anti- constitutionalist in the Supreme Court that has nearly destroyed this Nation – because they just know better than us peons what’s good for us!

    Moreover, we as a society have come to depend on Experts. Nearly 50% of us are on food stamps because the Experts are here to feed us. The Experts say guns are bad so many of us hate guns (and the same ones fear guns because they know nothing about them). Without this government many of us would simply shrivel up and DIE! We are a Nation of Pussies!!!

    Our rights to defend ourselves belong to us whether there is a Constitutional Guarantee or not. I was just reading about Mikail Kalashnikov, the Soviet tanker in World War II who designed and invented the most popular gun ever made – the Famed Soviet AK47. General Kalashnikov was a Life Time Member of the NRA and in a 1999 speech emphatically reiterated his belief that ALL of the citizens of the WORLD have the right to keep and bear arms!

    It is the fundamental right of every creature on this planet to Attempt to survive and it is the right of every human being – by virtue of our creator – be it a deity or the very planet itself – to Protect ourselves. That right cannot be taken away (it can be denied but it is NOT ever removed from our being human – until we are DEAD!)

    The liberals DO NOT care about the deaths, as in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Norfolk! Or even Chicago! They are delighted when these things occur. You can see it in the glee in which they attempt to drum up support for their cause every time such an event occurs. Gun FRee Zones are one of their most important TOOLS for their cause – they are not going to remove them willingly – so let’s remove the liberals! Their cause is to enslave us. They cannot do that when we are armed!

    There is NO OTHER explanation for the illogical arguments to take away our guns! That is the SPADE of the matter! Everything else is smoke and mirrors!

    Derrell Poole

  2. Setting aside that I think it’s possible that this administration ‘wants’ to disarm us, I have come to a conclusion…An alien ship of monkeys dropped down and dined on common sense with logic for desert…It seems that this anti-gun crowd is made up of some good people with a reasonable modicum of intelligence . So it’s either that or politicians making toys out of others emotions.
    Locally, we have a mall(Simon Properties)that posted signs “No Guns Allowed” The uproar has people taking a stack of letters to hand carry to stores stating that due to this policy they will no longer shop at the mall…….results will be interesting

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