For decades, the gun control movement has attempted to undermine the power of peaceful individuals carrying firearms in public. And in recent years, anti-gun politicians and activists have pushed for new and expanded gun-free zones across the United States.
But a powerful reality has emerged. Gun-free zones do not make people safer — in fact, they leave people vulnerable. In Indiana earlier this month, a so-called gun free zone was made safer by a young man carrying a firearm in violation of that policy.
On July 17, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken stopped a would-be mass shooter in his tracks when Dicken drew his concealed carry handgun and shot the would-be mass shooter eight times. Dicken heard the shooter open fire, ran towards the shooting, engaged, and ended the threat — all within 15 seconds.
Sadly, before that, the shooter fired upwards of 24 rounds and killed three people. But while that loss of life cannot be forgotten or minimized, Dicken’s actions show the true power of peaceful individuals who carry firearms to protect themselves and their communities.
There is no law enforcement agency in the country that could respond to a shooting within 15 seconds. Without Elisjsha’s quick thinking and brilliant shooting (eight hits with 10 rounds from 40 yards), the depraved individual who took as many innocent lives as possible could have taken several more, more families would be grieving, and we would be having a very different conversation. Most likely, we would be having the same conversation that we have nearly every time a public shooter targets a gun-free zone knowing that there is little to no chance anyone will be armed to stop them.
This isn’t a secret: mass shooters overwhelmingly target gun-free zones. According to a study by the Crime Prevention Research Center, 94% of mass public shootings — shootings in “public places” in which four or more victims were killed and did not result from “gang or drug violence,” per the FBI’s traditional definition — since 1950 through June 2019 occurred in areas where individuals were legally prevented from carrying firearms. We’ve even seen statements from these shooters (which I will not reprint here) explaining their intentional selection of areas with minimal security.
And yet, supporters of gun control have continued to push for gun-free zones — like the one Dicken was in — across the country, putting more and more people at risk. While Indiana recently passed a free carry law, allowing the vast majority of peaceful residents to carry a firearm in public without specific government permission, the Greenwood Park Mall is under a privately-mandated gun free policy, which the would-be mass shooter either clearly ignored or even intentionally targeted. But luckily, it’s also a gun-free policy that Elisjsha ignored. And because of Elisjsha, a lot more people were able to go home to their loved ones.
Let’s be clear: our government has no authority to prevent peaceful people from carrying firearms to protect themselves in the vast majority of public places. And if a private entity is going to prohibit people from protecting themselves and others on the entity’s property, then that entity must bear some level of responsibility for the result of its policy. Especially when that policy is clearly not enforced and offers no actual protection to customers.
The simple reality is that gun-free zones don’t work. Even worse, gun-free zones are targets for depraved criminals. And no amount of virtue signaling will protect the people who are subjected to them. It’s time for anti-gun politicians and activists to take responsibility for their actions. Their policies get people killed by leaving them defenseless. But people like Dicken — heroes who carry firearms to protect others — save lives. And we desperately need to empower as many people like Dicken to do just that across the country.
Cody J. Wisniewski (@TheWizardofLawz) is a Senior Attorney for Constitutional Litigation with Firearms Policy Coalition. His work has appeared in the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, National Review, The Daily Wire, and more. He primarily focuses on Second Amendment issues but is happy so long as he is reminding the government of its enumerated powers and constitutional limitations.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.