Hot Off The Ticker: The AME Church Is To Blame For The Shooting Because It’s A Gun-FreeZone

I really don’t want to write this piece, not just because it’s about the unspeakable tragedy that took place yesterday at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, but because I knew that by today, the usual pro-gun sycophants would be lecturing us all on the dangers of gun-free zones.  Actually, they couldn’t even wait until today, although by this morning, the gun ‘experts’ on Fox & Friends were already advising their audience that if someone in the church had been carrying a gun, “they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take him out.”

But one of the real experts on gun-free zones didn’t even wait until the shooter was captured to tell us not only why the shooter, Dylann Roof, chose the historic Black church to practice target-shooting with live targets, but also why the now-dead parishioners were really to blame for their self-massacre because they weren’t all sitting there armed.  I am referring, of course, to Maestro John Lott, who regularly orchestrates a chorus about the dangers of gun-free zones whenever a particularly nasty shooting takes place.

pat                Lott announced the shooting on his website with a headline which read: “Another Shooting in a Gun-free Zone.”  He then went on to insist that virtually every mass public shooting since 1950 has taken place in a gun-free zone, and then finished up by letting it be known that the Charleston church was a strong supporter of gun control and regularly opposed concealed-carry and stand your ground laws.

Remember the loony statement by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who blamed the World Trade Center attack on America’s moral decay?  Now I’m not saying that Lott has become that crazy, but that he couldn’t even wait 24 hours after the unspeakable event to begin peddling a shabby version of ‘they got what they probably deserved,’ speaks volumes about the motives and agenda of this self-proclaimed academic researcher on guns. And for that matter, it also says something about the way in which pro-gun mouthpieces like Lott and others respond every time that a shooting takes place which provokes horror and dread.

Because the simple fact of the matter is that mass shootings aren’t supposed to happen in churches or schools.  These places are sanctuaries in every sense of the word, and when we send our children off to school or we ourselves go off to a house of prayer, there’s simply no good reason on God’s Earth why we should stop and consider, even for a second, about whether there’s any chance at all that we or our children will face the horrific trauma of a gun barrel being pushed into our face.

John Lott

John Lott

But of course John Lott knows that we wouldn’t have to give it a moment’s thought because he also knows something that nobody else knows, namely, that shooters who go into gun-free schools or churches or movie theaters do so because they know that nobody is carrying a gun. After the 2012 shooting at the Aurora, CO theater which left 12 dead and 70 wounded , Lott stated that the reason James Holmes chose the Cinemark theater, even though it was neither the closest theater to his apartment, nor did it have the largest audience, was because it was the “only one where guns were banned.”  The trial of Holmes is actually going on right now, but from the time of the shooting until today, Holmes has never once said to anyone that he chose the Cinemark theater because nobody in the audience would be carrying a gun.

If the parishioners at Emanuel AME had just talked to John Lott, they would have realized the error of their ways and would have been carrying guns.  And of course Dylaan Roof would have attacked another church. And of course he’s already told John Lott that he walked into Emanuel AME because he knew it was a gun-free zone.



Do Good Guys Stop Bad Guys With Guns? Not According To The FBI.

After years of listening to Wayne Lapierre croon away about how ‘only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,’ we finally have some real data to test whether this rationale for arming civilians (and selling more guns) is really true.  I’m referring to a report on active shooting incidents just released by the FBI which analyzed 160 “active shootings” resulting in injuries to 1,043 victims, including 486 deaths, between 2000 and 2013.

Most of the media coverage of this report will no doubt focus on the FBI’s claim that the number of incidents and victims totals of these shootings has of late been going up, with the annual number of incidents averaging 7.5 between 2000 and 2006, and jumping to an annual average of 16.3 between 2007 and 2013.  The increase in casualties each year is even more dramatic, with the totals (not including the shooters) going from 247 between 2000 and 2006 up to just under 800 over the following seven years.  It should be noted, incidentally, that the FBI defines an “active shooting” as an incident during which  “both law enforcement personnel and citizens [my italics] have the potential to affect the outcome of the event based upon their responses.” Which is exactly what Wayne-o claims his gun-toting compatriots are all about.

fbi                Here’s how these incidents ended.  More than half (56%) were terminated by the shooter who either took his or her own life, simply stopped shooting or fled the scene.  Another 26% ended in the traditional Hollywood-like fashion with the shooter and law enforcement personnel exchanging gunfire and in nearly all of those situations the shooter ended up either wounded or dead.  In 13% of the shooting situations, the shooter was successfully disarmed and restrained by unarmed civilians, and in 3% of the incidents the shooter was confronted by armed civilians, of whom 4 were on-duty security guards and one person was just your average ‘good guy’ who happened to be carrying a gun.

The fact that 21 of these shooting situations were terminated by unarmed civilians as opposed to a single incident that ended because a good guy had a gun might come as a big surprise to the NRA, but for those of us who try to engage in the gun debate by issuing statements based on facts, this finding is consistent with other evidence that the pro-gun community chooses to ignore.  For example, in 2005 Gary Kleck published a study funded by the Department of Justice which showed that persons who resisted assaults by running away or calling the police had a better chance of escaping injury than if they resisted the assault with a gun.  This is the selfsame Gary Kleck whose 1994 paper claiming that millions of Americans thwart crimes each year with guns is still cited by the NRA as its gospel for justifying civilian armed defense.

The FBI report not only debunks the ‘good guy stops the bad guy’ nonsense, but also gives us some important data to judge the validity of another NRA mantra, namely, whether ‘bad guys’ are drawn to commit shootings in gun-free zones.  This bromide was all over the media after the Aurora theater shooting when it was pointed out by John Lott that the Cinemark was chosen by James Homes because it was the only theater showing the movie Batman that had a policy against allowing patrons to carry guns.

According to the FBI, of the 160 active shootings, 39 or roughly 25% took place in educational facilities and the shooters were overwhelmingly students who either attended or had attended the particular school.  In most of these cases the connection of the shooter to the school was the motivating issue, not the fact that the schools were gun-free zones.  More than two-thirds of all the active shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013 took place in locations which were not readily understood to be gun-free zones.  But why let facts stand in the way of an opinion or, better yet, a good marketing scheme?