A Politico Magazine story debunked the conservative media myths that gunmen target “gun-free zones” and more armed civilians would stop mass shootings that have been pervasive following the Oregon community college mass shooting, explaining that “active-shooter scenarios occur in all sorts of environments where guns are allowed,” and “no armed civilian has ever actually stopped a school shooting.”
Following the October 1 shooting where a gunman killed nine people at a community college in Oregon, media figures immediately made references to the campus as a “gun-free zone,” falling back on the conservative media myths that gunmen target locations because guns are not allowed, and more people carrying guns would stop mass shootings.
On October 5, Politico Magazine contributor Matt Valentine struck down the myths that “a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun,” and gun-free zones are targeted for mass shootings, writing “that's neither true in general nor true in this instance,” noting that guns are actually allowed under some circumstances on Oregon college campuses. More generally, Valentine explained that “active-shooter scenarios occur in all sorts of environments where guns are allowed,” and “no armed civilian has ever actually stopped a school shooting”:
It's an intuitive and appealing idea--that a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun. We can imagine it. We see it in movies. At least 80 million Americans have gone into the gun store, laid money on the counter, and purchased that fantasy. And yet it rarely plays out as envisioned. Is it because there aren't enough guns? Is it because the guns aren't allowed where they are needed? Or is there something else wrong with our aspirations to heroism?
Speaking Friday on CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, perennial gun rights advocate John Lott said, “My solution for these mass shootings is to look at the fact that every single time, these attacks occur where guns are banned. Every single time.”
That's neither true in general nor true in this instance. The FBI tells us that active-shooter scenarios occur in all sorts of environments where guns are allowed--homes, businesses, outdoor spaces. (In fact, there was another mass shooting the same day as the Oregon massacre, leaving three dead and one severely wounded in a home in North Florida.) And Umpqua Community College itself wasn't a gun-free zone. Oregon is one of seven states that allow guns on college campuses--the consequence of a 2011 court decision that overturned a longstanding ban. In 2012, the state board of education introduced several limitations on campus carry, but those were not widely enforced.
I asked Dr. Peter Langman, a clinical psychologist and author of the book School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators, whether the presence of guns is a factor rampage shooters consider when they plan their attacks.
“I don't think it is. Many of these shooters intend to die, either by their own hand or by suicide by cop. There was an armed guard at Columbine. There were armed campus police at Virginia Tech. The presence of armed security does not seem to be a deterrent,” Langman said. “Because they're not trying to get away with it. They're going in essentially on a suicide mission.”