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'Gun-Free Zones' Cause Deaths

By Jack Kelly

Matthew Murray, 24, entered the New Life church in Colorado Springs as services were getting out Dec. 9, and opened fire, killing Stephanie Works, 18, her sister, Rachael, 16, and wounding two others.

Mr. Murray, who was armed with an assault rifle, two handguns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, planned to kill a great many more, but his shooting spree was cut short by a volunteer security guard, former Minneapolis police officer Jeanne Assam, 42, who shot him down.

"If we did not have an armed person on our campus, 50 to 100 people could have lost their lives yesterday," said Pastor Brady Boyd.

There were shootings earlier this year at shopping malls in Omaha and Salt Lake City, where the body count was higher.

Robert Hawkins, 19, killed eight people and wounded five others at the Westroads Mall in Omaha Dec. 5 before turning his SKS rifle on himself.

Sulejman Talovic, 18, killed five people and wounded four more in the Trolley Square shopping center in Salt Lake City Feb. 13 before he was shot down by four policemen. Mr. Talovic, who had a shotgun, a pistol and a backpack full of ammunition, might have killed many more had it not been for the presence in the mall of Ken Hammond, an off-duty policeman from Ogden, who had his service pistol with him while he was eating dinner with his wife at a restaurant in the mall. Mr. Hammond jumped up as soon as he heard gunfire, cornered Talovic, and exchanged fire with him until the other police officers arrived.

"There is no question that his quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people," said Salt Lake police chief Chris Burbank.

The motives for the would be mass murderers were varied. All have been described as loners with mental problems. Murray said on his Web site that he hated Christians. Before leaving for the mall, Hawkins left a note for his family saying: "Now I will be famous." Authorities say the motive in the Salt Lake City shooting is a mystery, but Talovic was a Muslim, and there are some indications he sympathized with jihadist ideology.

Murray attacked a church because if you want to kill Christians, that's a good place to find them. Why did Hawkins and Talovic choose shopping malls for their murder sprees?

An obvious reason is because shopping malls are a target rich environment. If you want to kill a lot of people, go to where there are a lot of people to kill.

There's another. Nebraska and Utah permit private citizens who pass background checks to carry concealed weapons. But owners may ban guns from their property. The Crossroads Mall and Trolley Square proudly advertised themselves as "gun free zones." Hawkins and Talovic had every reason to suppose they would be the only people in the mall with a gun. The others would be fish in the barrel, sheep in the slaughter pen. It was Talovic's bad luck that Mr. Hammond kept his service pistol with him.

Gun free zones are an invitation to mass murderers, not a deterrent to them. Almost all mass public shootings happen in places where guns are banned, said criminologist John Lott.

Consider the massacre at Virginia Tech last April, where student Seung-Hui Cho, 23, killed 33 students and faculty members. Several students and professors resisted, but their resistance was futile, because Cho was armed and they were not.

Administrators at Virginia Tech were told Cho had violent tendencies, and appeared to be mentally unstable. Cho was told he should seek counseling, but little effort was made to see that he did. Perhaps the massacre could have been averted had Cho been expelled. Administrators say they lacked the grounds to do this. But in view of the ease with which public school administrators suspend students for possessing plastic knives or making drawings of guns, I doubt the veracity of this excuse.

It is virtually certain Cho's murder spree would have been cut short if some of the students or professors in the classrooms he attacked had been armed.

The Appalachian School of Law is just down the road from Virginia Tech in Grundy, Va. On. Jan. 16, 2002, a disgruntled former student killed three people and wounded three others. Peter Odighizua, 42, almost certainly would have killed more had not two students, both police officers, run to their cars, recovered their handguns, and subdued him. If Tracy Bridges and Mikeal Gross had had their weapons on them, Odighizua's shooting spree would have been stopped sooner.

For liberals, the highest status one can achieve is victimhood. "Gun-free zones" guarantee there will be many, many victims.

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