Families throughout the nation mourn the horrific deaths of 26 people, including 20 young children, killed Friday during a Newtown, Conn., mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“It’s impossible to imagine the depths of despair and grief that the victims’ families are experiencing right now,” said Geoffrey J. Neale, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “Our hearts go out to every one of them.”
In the immediate aftermath of news surrounding the shootings, pundits and politicians called for new restrictions on firearm ownership, exactly the opposite of the approach needed to combat tragic gun violence in schools.
“We’ve created a ‘gun-free zone,’ a killing zone, for the sickest criminals on the face of the Earth,” said R. Lee Wrights, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party. “We’ve given them an open killing field, and we’ve made the children of this country the victims.”
Wrights pointed out that merely the knowledge that armed people will be present acts as a deterrent for would-be shooters.
“They’re not going to walk into a police station, and why not? Because that’s where the guns are,” he said.
The Federal Gun Free Schools Zone Act prohibits carrying firearms on school grounds in most cases, effectively criminalizing the right to self-defense in places filled with the most vulnerable citizens. Without that federal prohibition, adults working at the school would have been free to defend themselves, very possibly saving the lives of many of the young children and adults who were slain in this horrific tragedy.
“We must stop blinding ourselves to the obvious: Most of these mass killings are happening at schools where self-defense is prohibited,” said Carla Howell, executive director of the Libertarian Party. “Gun prohibition sets the stage for the slaughter of innocent children. We must repeal these anti-self-defense laws now to minimize the likelihood they will occur in the future and to the limit the damage done when they do.”
Responsible gun owners can and do prevent mass shootings from occurring and escalating.
A 1997 high school shooting in Pearl, Miss., was halted by the school’s vice principal after he retrieved the Colt .45 he kept in his truck.
A 1998 middle school shooting ended when a man living next door heard gunfire and apprehended the shooter with his shotgun.
A 2002 terrorist attack at an Israeli school was quickly stopped by an armed teacher and a school guard.
A 2002 law school shooting in Grundy, Va., came to an abrupt conclusion when students carrying firearms confronted the shooter.
A 2007 mall shooting in Ogden, Utah, ended when an armed off-duty police officer intervened.
A 2009 workplace shooting in Houston, Texas, was halted by two coworkers who carried concealed handguns.
A 2012 church shooting in Aurora, Colo., was stopped by a member of the congregation carrying a gun.
At the recent mall shooting in Portland, Ore., the gunman took his own life minutes after being confronted by a shopper carrying a concealed weapon.
For several years after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, gun prohibitionists blocked pilots from carrying firearms. But after it became undeniable that guns are an essential line of defense against hijackers and other terrorists when the lives of innocent passengers are at stake, Congress finally passed legislation allowing it.
It’s time to take the same approach with teachers, school administrators, and security guards, who should be allowed to carry the tools necessary to protect the students in their care. It’s time to put an end to gun-free zones and make it much easier for responsible adults to arm, train, and protect themselves and the people they love from the violent criminals who seek to harm them.
“You can’t depend on somebody else to take care of your own life for you,” Wrights said. “It’s too precious to put it into the hands of somebody else, particularly when the seconds count.”
The Libertarian Party Platform on Self-Defense states: “The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.”