Debate rages over gun-free zones in Washington
Gun safety advocates say gun-free zones makes the public safer. Local gun rights advocates disagree, and are launching a new ad campaign to spread their message.
A new ad campaign to end gun-free zones is just getting underway this week and comes from the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue. Alan Gottlieb is the group’s Executive Director and claims gun-free zones have been giving people a false sense of security for decades. His organization is hoping to change that.
“Our new ad campaign basically labels gun-free zones as shooting galleries for maniacs, and we need to end them,” he told KIRO Radio.
Gottlieb calls gun-free zones “counterproductive,” noting the vulnerability of people should a mass-shooting incident take place.
He points to research from the conservative Crime Prevention Research Center, that says 98 percent of mass shootings since 1950 have happened in gun-free zones. Gun safety advocates dispute that research, but Gottlieb says there are plenty of examples to back it up, such as recent shootings in schools, malls, and movie theaters among other public places.
“It’s really crazy when you go to the shopping mall or movie theater, and you’re licensed to carry and you’re trained, and you’re not allowed to have your gun to protect yourself,” he said.
Kristen Ellingboe with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility disagrees, saying that ending gun free zones makes no sense.
“It relies on the idea that incidents of gun violence and mass shootings in particular could be stopped if only a good guy with a gun were allowed to intervene,” said Ellingboe. “The truth is that armed citizens are almost never successful in intervening in an active shooter situation.”
Gottlieb points to situations where a good guy with a gun has saved lives, including a local pastor who intervened when a shooter and carjacker went on a bizarre rampage in Tumwater last year.
They plan to run the ads online and in print, and Gottlieb says they hope the campaign can help lead to change in Washington and beyond. He believes, ultimately, it will make the public safer.
Ellingboe says no way.
“There are many things that we can and should be doing to help prevent mass shootings in our communities — this is not one of them,” she noted.
News of the ad campaign came on the first day of a two-day Gun Violence Summit in King County organized by the Board of Health. The summit involves gun violence survivors, state and local lawmakers, community groups, and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.
On Tuesday night, that forum focused on issues surrounding gun violence in South Seattle, and King County, and community groups doing gang intervention work in minority communities.
Ellingboe said they plan to shift gears on Wednesday.
“We’ll really focus in on suicide prevention and the public health approach to addressing this crisis,” she described.
From there, the idea is to come up with a detailed plan that can be implemented by the county Board of Health. It remains to be seen exactly what that could look like, but Ellingboe pointed out that the summit is not about creating more new guns laws at this point. Instead, the hope is to come up with strategies.