Police have identified Robert A. Hawkins, 19, as the young nut case who killed eight innocent people — seriously wounding five more — with a semi-automatic rifle (not an assault rifle) at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska Dec. 5.
Chalk up eight more deaths to “gun control.”
Hawkins left a suicide note, in which The Associated Press tells us he wrote “I just want to take a few pieces of (expletive) with me.”
The shooting was at least the fourth at an American mall or shopping center so far this year, following incidents in Salt Lake City, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Douglasville, Georgia.
We don’t have to speculate whether this killer — like so many before him — chose a known gun-free zone for his carefully planned rampage.
Nebraska issues permits “allowing” qualified individuals people to carry concealed handguns after they acquire as permit. (The word “allowing” is in quotes because the 2nd and 14th amendments reaffirm weapons carrying to be a right, not a privilege — states have no more legitimate power to “allow” or “disallow” weapons carrying than they have the right to “allow” or “disallow” attendance at religious services or the publishing of newspapers.)
Leaving aside this “permitting” scheme, current Nebraska law quite properly does allow property owners, such as the Westroads Mall, to post signs banning permit holders from legally carrying guns on their property.
(“Some chains such as Bag ‘N Save have posted signs and shopping malls such as Westroads Mall have added ‘no weapons’ clauses to their posted codes of conduct,” the Omaha World-Herald reported on March 28, 2007.)
“The same was true for the attack at the Trolley Square Mall in Utah in February,” reports John Lott in his Dec. 6 article on FoxNews.com headlined “Media Coverage of Mall Shooting Fails to Reveal Mall’s Gun-Free-Zone Status.”
The question is not whether private property owners do and should have a right to bar firearms on their property — they do. (Though selective bans on only SOME civilians would surely be easier to challenge; watch to see if government police officers called to such locales are made to check their weapons before entering.)
Rather, the first question here is whether our government agencies are making it fully clear to private employers and the managers of buildings otherwise open to the public — such as Clark County’s courthouses and public libraries — that they will not be shielded from the financial repercussions should employees or customers die under circumstances where they could otherwise have defended themselves and others with their own firearms.
The second question? The aforementioned John Lott, author of the book Freedomnomics and a senior research scholar at the University of Maryland, put it very well in the Fox News column in question:
“A Google news search using the phrase ‘Omaha Mall Shooting’ finds an incredible 2,794 news stories worldwide” about the mall shooting in the first 24 hours alone, Mr. Lott notes. “But despite the massive news coverage, none of the media coverage, at least by 10 a.m. Thursday, mentioned this central fact: Yet another attack occurred in a gun-free zone.
“Surely, with all the reporters who appear at these crime scenes and seemingly interview virtually everyone there, why didn’t one simply mention the signs that ban guns from the premises?” asks Mr. Lott, who posts the “No weapons allowed” sign from Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square Mall (it’s item 10) on his website. “But again the media coverage ignored this fact.”
“Oh come on, Vin,” some will protest at this point. “It wouldn’t matter even if these places did allow people to carry guns. Hardly anyone goes armed even when it’s allowed, so how often would a plain old non-policeman with a gun really save lives?
Pretty often, it turns out.
In 1997, Luke Woodham slit his mother’s throat, grabbed a .30-30 lever action rifle and a bunch of ammo and headed to Pearl High School in Pearl, Miss. — another gun-free zone — to start shooting people.
The moment Vice Principal Joel Myrick heard the first shots, he took off at a sprint for his truck. (Because Mr. Myrick had a handgun in his truck, a deadly stupid federal law required him to park it far from campus.)
He loaded the gun and went looking for the killer.
Woodham shot until he heard sirens, then ran to his car. His plan, authorities subsequently learned, was to drive to nearby Pearl Junior High School and shoot more kids before police could show up.
The armed vice principal foiled that plan. He saw the killer fleeing the campus and positioned himself to point a gun at the windshield. Woodham, seeing the gun pointed at his head, crashed the car. Myrick approached the killer and confronted him.
“I asked him his name. He said ‘You know me, Mr. Myrick. Remember? I gave you a discount on your pizza delivery last week,” recalls Myrick, who has since become Principal of Corinth High School.
In 2002, as Mr. Lott himself reported in The National Review the following year, “Two law students with law-enforcement backgrounds as deputy sheriffs in another state stopped the shooting at the Appalachian Law School in Virginia. When the attack started the students ran to their cars, got their guns, pointed their guns at the attacker, ordered him to drop his gun, and then tackled him and held him until police were able to arrive,” thus undoubtedly saving many lives.
At the Trolley Square attack in Utah this year, “Possibly the ban there was even more noteworthy because the off-duty police officer who stopped the attack fortunately violated the ban by taking his gun in with him when he went shopping,” Mr. Lott reports.
“There are plenty of cases every year where permit holders stop what would have been multiple victim shootings, but they rarely receive any news coverage,” Mr. Lott protests. “When will part of the media coverage on these multiple-victim public shootings be whether guns were banned where the attack occurred? … Isn’t it important to know why all the victims were disarmed?”
Reporters are trained to ask if car crash victims were wearing their seat belts, after all.
“The law-abiding, not criminals, are obeying the rules. Disarming the victims simply means that the killers have less to fear,” Mr. Lott concludes.
Fortunately, we saw the way it works when citizens are armed, less than a week after the Nebraska shootings. Shortly after midnight on Sunday Dec. 9, Matthew Murray, a 24-year-old who had been rejected from a missionary school in Colorado, shot and killed two staffers there. Twelve hours later he drove to the parking lot of the related New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where about 7,000 people were present as the midday service wound to a close, and opened fire in the parking lot, killing two young women and wounding their father.
Jeanne Assam, 42, a member of the congregation who used to work as a police officer, volunteers to serve as a security guard at the church.
“The shots were so loud I thought he was inside,” Ms. Assam recalls. Then “I saw him coming through the doors.”
Assam hid — a wise course for a handgunner facing a rifleman. She waited until Murray — carrying a rifle, two pistols and a backpack with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition — got close enough. Then she “came out of cover, identified myself and took him down,” she told a packed news conference the next day. “I just knew I was not going to wait for him to do any more damage.”
The coroner later reported the wounded assailant took his own life, presumably with one of his pistols.
“I just prayed to the Holy Spirit to guide me,” Assam told a packed news conference Monday. “I give the credit to God. This has got to be God, because of the firepower he had versus what I have.”
Authorities and her minister said Assam saved untold lives. Lives that would have been lost, if Murray had attacked in a disarmed-victim city like Los Angeles, New York or Washington.
“My hand wasn’t even shaking,” she said. “It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God.”
And, of course, Jeanne Assam’s handgun.
If you frequent public buildings or work for an employer who bars you from carrying your otherwise legal self-defense weapon on the premises, consider informing your loved ones in writing that — in the event you should die under circumstances where you could have saved yourself and others with your handgun — you want the proprietor sued to the extent their “no guns” policy contributed to your death or injuries.
People have got to learn: Guns save lives; banning guns can cost dearly.