You may have already heard that two people were shot at the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, Washington, last night (Source). One was killed and the other was seriously wounded. When I first read about the shooting last night, I decided to do some research. It didn’t take long to discover the ironic fact that the Southcenter Mall is an establishment that prohibits firearms (Source).
Now let’s take a time out for a moment to review Washington laws in regards to carrying a gun. The law states that in order to carry a concealed handgun outside of one’s home or fixed place of business, the person must have a concealed carry permit (Source). Because the law is worded in a way that only regulates the carrying of a concealed weapon, any citizen who can legally own a handgun can also legally carry it openly on his/her person without a permit.
Many states also regulate where a weapon can be carried, regardless of whether or not a person has a permit to carry. For instance, in Mississippi it is illegal to carry a firearm into any premises with signs at the entrances that state that firearms are prohibited in the building (Source). It’s a bit different in Washington, where a business can prohibit weapons on the premises, but the prohibition is apparently not enforceable by law (though carrying a weapon into such a place can be considered trespassing). This is illustrated in a story posted by a user on opencarry.org, who was issued a trespass notice at the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila last year and was banned from the mall for a year for carrying a gun on the premises (Source). It seems that in this case, signs were not posted at all entrances, so the trespass notice may have not been enforceable anyway.
So back to last night’s shooting…as I’ve covered, the mall prohibits guns on its premises. What exactly does it think it’s accomplishing by doing so? All this ensures is that innocent rule-abiding citizens will not carry their guns into the mall. If a criminal wants to go into the mall and shoot someone, these signs aren’t going to stop them. Last night’s shooting is evidence enough of this. Such ignorant and dangerous anti-gun policies only serve to benefit criminals and strip protection away from the innocent.
It’s not like this is new either. I’m sure most people remember the Westroads Mall shooting in Omaha, Nebraska, in December of last year. This mall also prohibited firearms on its premises, a status that is enforceable by Nebraska state law (Source). That didn’t keep the kid from carrying an AK-47 into the mall and murdering eight people and wounding others. Or how about the Trolley Square Mall shooting that occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February of last year? This was another establishment that prohibited firearms on its premises, but that didn’t stop the shooter from carrying in a shotgun, handgun, and a backpack full of ammunition and murdering five people and wounding others. Luckily, in that case, an off-duty police officer was in the mall at that time violating the mall’s anti-gun policy (which was not enforceable by state law) and engaged the shooter, effectively ending his killing spree by distracting him until other officers arrived and killed him.
I’ve heard some argue before, “well what are the chances that a person with a gun is actually going to be right there near the shooter when something like that happens anyway?” I have two responses:
1) It doesn’t matter what the chances are. What matters is that there is a chance.
2) The person doesn’t have to be right there next to him. Take the story of the off-duty officer at the Trolley Square Mall for example:
Yet even then, the officer “was at the opposite end and on a different floor of the convoluted Trolley Square complex when the shooting began. By the time he became aware of the shooting and managed to track down and confront Talovic [the killer], three minutes had elapsed.”
Sadly, these are not the only examples. I can’t even keep track of the number of school shootings I’ve seen in my time. I say this as if I am an old man, but that’s not the case. Did the anti-gun policies of most schools keep these tragedies from occurring? No. And how many of these could have been prevented or ended earlier by students or teachers permitted to carry guns had the laws been different? We’ll never know. What we do know is this: these anti-gun rules and laws have proven far too many times to be ineffective, and the chance, no matter how small, that shootings could be prevented or ended by law-abiding civilians with guns is a lot better than no chance at all.