Do Gun Free Zones Work?

20150617-143-Edit(1)So far, the answer has to be a resounding no. As a criminal defense lawyer here in Sarasota I have handled gun cases for over thirty years. In the last ten years, there has been an explosion of gun violence in the form of “school shootings”. In the past, there was at least some form of logic to gun violence. It was generally related to drug trafficking, armed robbery or domestic violence. There is now a totally new type of gun violence in the form of mass shootings by young white mentally deranged males. We have seen mass homicides at movie theaters, college campuses and grade schools and high schools. There seems to be a pattern in that the shooters want notoriety. In most other gun crimes, the shooters do not want to be identified, detected or arrested. These mentally ill young men want the world to know who they are and want to make a statement.
Across the country, in an effort to combat this violence gun free zones have been established. This even applies to some of the prohibited concealed weapon areas. The problem is that now these so called “safe zones” have become “killing zones. The students have become sitting ducks. The people in Theaters, at sporting events and other places where people gather are soft targets for the mentally deranged killer. There are two schools of thought. On the one side are the gun control advocates. Although well intentioned, these people simply do not accept the reality that in America there is already at least one gun for every person. Making guns illegal would simply create another unenforceable law. It is impossible to roll back the laws of the past and there are tens of millions of law abiding citizens that will never give up their guns.
As a criminal defense attorney I can tell you, banning guns is not the answer. The true problem is the lack of funding for the mentally ill. If there was a real concerted effort to identify the shooters and treat them, or even commit them, some of this senseless violence could be avoided. The core problem is mental illness. The other core problem is glorification of killing in the media. You cannot watch an hour of television without seeing gory gun violence shows. You cannot go in a move theater lobby and not see rows of video games all promoting shooting and violence. Look at the video games the children play now. When I was twelve years old my father gave me a .22 rifle. I grew up with guns and there were no school shooting or mass killings. What has changed in my lifetime is the “gun culture” we live in and the glorification of shooting people. Guns have been around since the founding of our country. I believe in the Second Amendment and the valuable necessity it is to a free society, but, we have to deal with the reality that these killings must be prevented.
Ask any law enforcement officer. Does he have a gun in his home for protection? Ask any prosecutor, any judge or any public official, do you feel safe in your home? Are you safe without a gun? Look at what happens after national emergencies like Katrina. Responsible gun ownership and use is a constitutional right. Mental illness is a problem. The answer is funding.
Let your voice be heard on this issue. Gun free zones do not work.