Don't let hysteria lead to bad policy: Gun-free zones can't protect our children

Don't let hysteria lead to bad policy: Gun-free zones can't protect our children
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More than a week has passed since the terrible tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and the left’s gun control hysteria remains at a fever pitch. From congressional Democrats to their media allies, anti-gun liberals are predictably criticizing law-abiding gun owners and trampling on the Second Amendment. Their outcry ranges from disingenuous to downright delusional.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Natural gas export project gets green light | Ocasio-Cortez says climate fight needs to address farming | Top EPA enforcement official to testify Sanders endorses Oakland teachers strike News media has sought to 'delegitimize' Tulsi Gabbard, says liberal journalist MORE (D-Calif.) recently argued “we cannot tolerate a society” in which “our babies are being slaughtered” — this coming from a lawmaker who has received tens of thousands of dollars from pro-abortion organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Harris is not alone: Several Democratic candidates now plan to campaign on gun control in 2018.

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The left-leaning mainstream media is also already in campaign mode. CNN anchor Chris Cuomo recently urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE to make gun control part of his policy agenda — despite the president’s support for gun rights. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” devoted “Never Trumper” Joe Scarborough called pro-gun Republicans “useful idiots” and “domestic terrorist enablers.” Another MSNBC analyst recently argued that, without gun control, we are “mak(ing) the Second Amendment a suicide pact.”

From the left’s perspective, the fewer guns there are, the safer our communities become. But it flies in the face of reality. From 1998 through 2015, more than 96 percent of mass public shootings occurred in gun-free zones, where the shooter has free rein to fire away while victims have virtually no power to defend themselves. The “gun-free” designation cannot stop a single school shooting.

As President Trump recently explained:

"A gun-free zone to a maniac, because they're all cowards, a gun-free zone is 'let's go in and let's attack because bullets aren't coming back at us.'"

Nothing stops a bad guy with a gun except a good guy — or girl — with a gun. In the United States, guns are used as many as 2.5 million times a year in self-defense, according to some estimates, preventing countless tragedies from ever becoming a news story. Just last year, the shooting spree in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was stopped by a brave citizen with a gun. Embracing our Second Amendment rights — not limiting them — will lead to the end of school violence.

Americans should take a page from the Israeli playbook. In 1974, Israel endured the Ma’alot Massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists took 115 people hostage at Netiv Meir Elementary School. Twenty-two children and three others lost their lives, while 68 more were injured.

Not surprisingly, the Israeli government now requires schools with 100 or more students to have a guard posted daily, who actively checks individuals entering a school and engages potential threats head-on.

Israel hasn’t seen another Ma’alot Massacre since.

But at home, we’ve made ourselves targets with gun-free zones. In 2016, a young ISIS sympathizer planned a shooting at one of the largest churches in Detroit, in part because it’s a gun-free zone. In his words:

“It’s easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news.

The proper response to Parkland and similar tragedies is not to establish gun-free zones. Instead, it is to implement policies likes allowing teachers to carry, supporting local police officers, or having armed veterans, volunteers, and security on campus. In fact, in 2013 PoliceOne survey, more than 80 percent of respondents supported arming willing and trained school teachers and administrators. Leaving children defenseless in a gun-free zone only encourages mass shooters — as they themselves admit — to seek out unguarded schools and inflict more damage.

Some schools have already taken these steps. In 2014, for instance, the Argyle Independent School District in Texas allowed certain employees to carry guns on campuses, recognizing that campus officials are the first line of defense against mass shootings.

So let’s continue to empower those who can defend our children and are licensed to do so.

In President Trump's words:

"If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly."

Remember: The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy — or girl — with a gun.

Antonia Okafor is the founder of EmPOWERed, a Second Amendment organization for women on college campuses, and a campus-carry spokeswoman for the NRA. Antonia is working with Great America PAC on their DefendSchools.com initiative to secure and defend our schools. Follow her on Twitter @antonia_okafor.