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The murder of innocent victims is a disgrace, and our condolences go out to those who have lost loved ones in the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.

More than one year before Monday’s unprecedented shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, the state’s General Assembly quashed a bill that would have given qualified college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus. Could one legally armed citizen have made a difference at this tragic event?

We also need to ask the question: Do laws prohibiting firearms in certain places really prevent homicidal tragedies?

There is a striking paradox associated with mass murders. They are far more likely to occur in areas that have been designated as gun-free zones.


Worldwide, office buildings, hospitals, convenience stores, TV studios, chain restaurants and day-care centers have all been targets of homicidal maniacs. Mass murders have taken place in such places after they have been declared gun-free zones.

In 1999, John Lott and William Landes published a U.S. study of multiple shooting incidents. They showed that mass shootings occur less often in areas where responsible citizens may carry weapons.

Do mass shootings ever occur in police stations, shooting ranges or at gun shows? Mass murderers select soft targets for their acts of violence. Expecting a suicidal individual to honor a law prohibiting firearms is sheer utopian fantasy.

In Europe, 16 people were killed in a public school shooting in Germany in April 2002. Another two public shootings were the killing of 14 regional legislators in Zug, a Swiss Canton (September 2001) and the massacre of eight city council members in a Paris suburb in March 2002.

According to John R. Lott Jr., all three of these European killing sprees had one thing in common: They took place in gun-free zones. Firearms surely make it easier to kill people, but firearms also make it easier for people to defend themselves.

Declaring gun-free zones risks leaving potential victims defenseless.

In the U.S., thugs using firearms at elementary or secondary schools between 1997 and 2002 killed 32 students. The total includes gang fights, robberies, accidents and the so-called “school shootings.” All these attacks took place in gun-free zones.

In Israel, however, teachers and parents serving as school aids are armed at all times on school grounds with semi-automatic weapons. Since this policy was adopted in the 1970s, attacks by gunmen at schools in Israel have ceased.

Government officials must be aware that if they create a gun-free zone, they are liable for any harm it causes. Why would those in authority rather see law-abiding, disarmed citizens die than risk armed citizens harming a criminal?

With lives lost in Germany and the United States in schools that are gun-free zones, and no attacks by armed gunmen in Israel since teachers and parents serving as school aids have been armed, why would we want any area declared a gun-free zone?

History and common sense prove that gun-free zones are dangerous.

Order van Wyk’s book, “Shooting Back,” which tells the story of his defending his church family with a firearm after terrorists invaded.



Charl van Wyk is the author of “Shooting Back” and national coordinator for Gun Owners of South Africa.

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