Conservative Media Use Mall Of America Threat To Promote Concealed Guns As A Terrorism Solution

Conservative media are reacting to a terrorist threat against Mall of America by calling for people to be allowed to carry concealed guns in more places even though no evidence exists that civilians with concealed carry permits stop mass attacks.

During a February 22 appearance on CNN, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson told visitors to Minnesota's Mall of America to be “particularly careful,” citing a video released by Somalia-based terror group Al-Shabaab that called for an attack on the shopping center. Local law enforcement say there is “no credible threat” to the mall, but that Mall of America has “implemented extra security precautions.”

Shoppers visiting Mall of America are not allowed to carry firearms, although one local lawmaker is attempting to change that policy in light of Al-Shabaab's threat. As a reaction to the September 11 terror attacks, Mall of America created its own 150-member counterterrorism security force that is “modeled after similar units in Israel.” Local police also have a unit dedicated to the mall.

Conservatives have used the threat to question the mall's no guns policy for shoppers and to push the myth that places where guns are not allowed are particularly dangerous.

On February 24, Outnumbered co-hosts Andrea Tantaros, Stacey Dash, and Kennedy along with guest and Fox News contributor Bo Dietl all endorsed carrying concealed guns in Mall of America. Kennedy suggested that Mall of America is a “gun-free zone” and argued that such an area “really is an invitation” for terrorists. Tantaros falsely suggested that the gunman in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting was “taken down” with a firearm to advance the carrying of guns. In fact, the shooter in that incident committed suicide.

Fox's The Five and Fox & Friends both used the threat against Mall of America to question policies that prohibit the carrying of guns.

Writing for Townhall, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich called Mall of America “a 'gun free,' anti-concealed carry zone, making it even more of a soft-target for terror groups who have people embedded in U.S. cities.” An article in the NRA's magazine American Rifleman wrote of Mall of America's policy to not allow shoppers to bring guns: “Unfortunately, rendering all of the lawful patrons defenseless makes the 520-store, 50-restaurant facility -- and home to the world's largest indoor theme park -- a more desirable target.”

There is no evidence that policies disallowing the carrying of firearms encourage public attacks or that civilians with concealed weapons stop public attacks. According to a Mother Jones analysis of 62 mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2012, not a single incident involved a shooter who chose his or her target because guns were not allowed to be carried at that location -- instead, “in many of the cases there was clearly another motive for the choice of location.”

None of those 62 incidents were stopped by a civilian carrying a concealed weapon, although Mother Jones did describe two incidents, both in 2005, where a civilian with a concealed gun was injured or killed trying to stop a public attack. Following a June 2014 attack that left two Las Vegas police officers dead, a man who drew his concealed weapon with the intention of confronting one of the perpetrators was killed by the other perpetrator.

Conservative media have increasingly used terrorism as a means to advance pro-gun arguments.

Following a December 2014 hostage situation in a Sydney, Australia, café, Fox News questioned Australia's strict gun regulations, even though Americans are murdered by guns at a rate more than ten times greater in the United States, where laws are comparatively looser. After terrorists used guns in an attack on Paris-based satire publication Charlie Hebdo, Fox figures again criticized France's strict gun laws, even though mass shootings and gun violence generally are far more prevalent in the United States where there are far fewer restrictions on firearm ownership. Without citing examples, Washington, D.C.-based Fox reporter Emily Miller claimed during a January 11 appearance on Fox News that the reason terrorists don't come here is because of civilian's ownership" of firearms and that terrorists “come here and they bomb us, unfortunately, which is horrible, but they're not coming here with guns because Americans can shoot back.”