Guns and Gear

Mass Shooters Pick Targets Where People Won’t Have Guns, Says Gun Crime Expert

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It is no coincidence mass shootings tend to occur in gun-free zones, where shooters know they are less likely to encounter armed citizens who can defend themselves, according to a gun crimes expert.

Friday’s shooting in Virginia Beach, Virginia, that left 12 people dead, occurred in Building 2 of the city’s municipal center, a designated a “gun-free zone” where employees were banned from carrying guns, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

“Another mass public shooting, another place where the victims were banned from carrying guns,” John R. Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, wrote after the shooting.

Only four percent of mass public shootings from 1998-2018 occurred in areas where guns are allowed, with 96 percent occurring in “gun-free zones,” according to Lott’s research.

This is significant, Lott argues, because state concealed carry regulations generally designate only a few restricted areas for carrying a gun, yet those places are where most shootings occur.

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA - JUNE 02: People stop to pay their respects to those killed in a mass shooting at a makeshift memorial outside the City of Virginia Beach Operations Building June 02, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Eleven city employees and one private contractor were shot to death Friday in the operations building by engineer DeWayne Craddock who had worked for the city for 15 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA – JUNE 02: People stop to pay their respects to those killed in a mass shooting at a makeshift memorial outside the City of Virginia Beach Operations Building June 02, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Eleven city employees and one private contractor were shot to death Friday in the operations building by engineer DeWayne Craddock who had worked for the city for 15 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“At some point, it would seem obvious that these attacks aren’t random,” added Lott.

Lott compiled shooting statistics over the last 20 years, noting differences in his methodology than that used by gun-control groups like Everytown For Gun Safety, which Lott characterizes as “misleading.” (RELATED: Everytown Ignoring Bloomberg’s Findings)

“Everytown for Gun Safety’s recent report on mass shootings contains many errors…it muddies the discussion…by including shootings in private homes along with ones in public places, and the vast majority of the cases they include are in private homes,” he said.

In his article, “How mass killers pick out venues where their victims are sitting ducks,” written in June 2015, Lott noted that the Aurora, Colorado, “Batman” movie theater gunman had seven theaters closer to his residence, but he selected the only theater that was a designated “gun-free zone,” as Fox News reported.

In addition, Lott pointed out in the same article that, despite 20 states allowing teachers to carry guns, shooting attacks had only occurred in schools where guns are banned.

Rather than blaming Friday’s shooting on a lack of gun control laws, Lott suggests existing laws banning public employees from carrying firearms may be the problem.

“Of course, the media seems immune to even discussing these points. The irony is that rather than going back and removing an existing policy that created a place where people couldn’t protect themselves, the attack will likely be used to make all the other buildings gun-free zones,” he said.

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