Tracy Winder: Gun-free zones and school safety |

Tracy Winder: Gun-free zones and school safety

To the editor:

The United States Congress enacted the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (GFSZA), which was amended later to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling regarding constitutionality.

The U.S. Code defines “school zone” as any public, parochial or private school that provides elementary or secondary education (K-12). Other federally mandated ‘gun-free zones’ were created later.

States and local jurisdictions quickly followed suit with their own ‘gun-free zones’, including Colorado. Since then, nearly all multiple shootings in the USA have taken place in public or private ‘gun-free zones’. The common feature of mass shootings in Europe is that they all take place in gun-free zones.

Since 1990, I count 14 mass shootings in the USA that have taken place on ‘gun-free zone’ school properties, including the latest in California.

Prior to passage of these ‘gun-free zone’ laws here at home, we in the firearms community warned repeatedly that this legislation would backfire, that these new laws would make schools and public areas more vulnerable, not less. Despite our reasoned protestations to legislators, newspapers and the public, lawmakers proudly passed these laws anyway.

Back in late July, I wrote a letter to the editor referencing a book by John R. Lott, Jr., entitled More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Lott’s scrupulous research reveals that the overwhelming majority of mass shootings take place where Concealed Carry Permit holders are barred.

The evidence from recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Oregon, and Connecticut add more credibility to Lott’s findings.

The idea of ‘gun-free zones’ was never a workable idea, since a plan for funds necessary to guarantee compliance was never provided at any governmental level. Unless each affected location is operated much like an international airport, at all times when citizens are present, and with all the expense and inconvenience that goes with it, compliance will always be completely voluntary. Few governments or school districts have this type of funding available and never will.

Even with all the mandatory, costly protection measures in place at major airports, laws now allow commercial pilots to carry guns (voluntarily and anonymously), and armed U.S. Air Marshals travel on random flights (anonymously). Why? Because lawmakers had to concede that even the best security measures can be evaded, and there simply is no substitute for an immediate, armed defense, particularly when an attacker cannot determine where or from whom the defense might come.

Sadly, legislators did not extend this thought process beyond the airline industry.

Apparently, the Moffat County School District held two community meetings in December to discuss safety in local schools. Unfortunately, most in the community were never aware of the meetings until afterwards.

As the Daily Press will verify, notice of these meetings never appeared in the printed version of the Press; notice appeared only online. Many of us would have attended had we known of the events.

Tracy Winder

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