Aaron Berk is a computer engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.
Aaron Berk is a computer engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

With the recent mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5th (14 dead, 30 wounded), and another shooting two days later in Florida (1 dead, 5 injured), I’d like to think there’s something we can change so that less lives will be lost in the future. Sure there is a lot to do in the form of prevention, but I think that’s where all the focus gets put, and not much time is spent trying to improve how things go once a shooting has started.

People need to be willing to accept the fact that from time to time, despite all our best efforts, mass shootings will occur. It is a very sad fact, but that’s the way it is. In the Fort Hood shooting for example, the alleged killer was a major in the army and a psychiatrist. Sometimes even the people we trust the most can turn against us.

Once we accept the fact that mass shootings will occur, we should focus on the questionof how to end the shootings as quickly as possible. In the Fort Hood shooting, the shooter was able to fire more than one hundred rounds from a semi-automatic handgun before he was brought to a stop by deadly force. He was on the largest U.S. military base in the world and yet it was two civilian police officers who stopped him: Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd (both heroes in my book).

When I read that it was two civilian police officers that ended the carnage on a huge military base, something seemed odd to me. I imagined military bases as having lots of soldiers with most of them armed and able to defend themselves. I found this is not the case.

It turns out that the only typically armed people on our military bases are the military police. Soldiers are allowed to check firearms out of the armory for use on the range, but that’s about it. It’s absurd to me that our soldiers who fight and defend our freedom and who are generally proficient in the use of firearms are not allowed to carry on the military bases where they work, train and in some cases live. Even concealed carry permit holders who are generally allowed to carry in public aren’t allowed to carry on bases. When the shooter opened fire at Fort Hood, the soldiers were left defenseless and waiting for the police to arrive so they could end the shooting. When a mass shooting is in progress, every second is a potentially lethal second and the police are minutes away.

Time and time again we see that it takes deadly force in the form of a firearm to end a mass shooting. All too often these mass shootings occur in so called “gun-free zones” where only the police are allowed to have firearms. In other words, people are dependent upon the police to show up to end the shooting. In the case of the Fort Hood shooting, even the military base was a “gun-free zone” (with the exception of the firing range) just like Virginia Tech was, and as are most college campuses. Does making “gun-free zones” stop violent criminals from committing their crimes? Or do they just keep law-abiding citizens from carrying and being able to defend themselves? I know the idea of a “gun-free zone” seems like a good idea, but in reality, don’t they just help the criminals?

Concealed carry is the concept of carrying a firearm on your person and in a manner so that somebody looking at you wouldn’t know you’re carrying. While the laws on concealed carry vary throughout the states, (from Wisconsin and Illinois which prohibit concealed carry, to Alaska and Vermont where concealed carry is legal without any permit) most states allow for concealed carry with some sort of permit. Concealed carry is not for everyone, but it allows law-abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves and not rely solely on the police in certain situations; legalized concealed carry allows ordinary citizens to be able to protect themselves and end shootings. If concealed carry was allowed on Fort Hood, there are no guarantees that somebody would have been armed in the vicinity of the shooter or that they would have decided to use their firearm against the shooter, but there would at least have been that possibility; currently it’s not allowed under the law.

Shouldn’t law-abiding citizens be able to legally carry concealed weapons so that they might be able to protect themselves in times of intense violence and perhaps save the lives of many others in the process?

Or are “gun-free zones” where criminals are armed, law-abiding citizens are unarmed, and people are dependent on police to come the rescue, a good idea?

Aaron Berk is a computer engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank you for this article Aaron. Gun free zones are absurd. The only way they could POSSIBLY work is if every car is stopped and searched for firearms at every entrance, stopping every person and searching them also and provide security at every corner where the response time would be seconds instead of minutes. But to do that, we would need to violate everyone’s fourth amendment rights. OR we could allow those who have been cleared by law enforcement, have taken training classes similar to law enforcement qualifications, and have undergone many different background and physiological checks to ensure they are qualified. These people carry everywhere else. At the store, while driving, jogging, etc. But somehow people think that as soon as these law abiding citizens get on campus, they will go crazy and shoot up the place. Please. If someone wanted to shoot someone on campus, why the heck would they go through the whole process of getting a permit and THEN violate the law of “gun free zones”. They would just laugh and walk onto campus with no reservation for the law. After all, they are committing the act of murder, why would they care about “gun free zones”.

    Again, thank you for giving the Mustang Daily some common sense. Keep up the good work. But be prepare for the people who say “BUT THE CHIIIILLLLDREEEN!” working on emotion rather than fact and logic.

  2. Going back many years, the only shooting atrocities in which more than three people have been killed took place in so-called Gun Free Zones. The reason for this is that there’s no way of cutting short these rampages if the only people carrying guns are the sickos that are using them.

    Outside GFZ’s, a surprising proportion of the law abiding citizens around you are probably legally carrying guns. Most of them are prepared to use them to stop a carnage. Statistically, none of them pose a threat to other citizens (crime by licensed concealed weapon carriers is almost non-existant, actually lower than crime committed by police officers.)

    38 of the States are "must issue" states, meaning that any law-abiding citizen who applies must be issued a permit to carry a firearm. Most of these states heard cries of "Rivers of blood" when the legislation was introduced: in reality, crime has gone down consistently in every single state where this has happened. Criminals don’t like you or I carrying guns – it threatens them. Good, I say.

  3. Whenever I hear of atrocities like those mentioned above, I cannot help but think what it would be like if my family and I were in that room when a crazy gunman bursts in and starts shooting. Without being able to carry a weapon, the only recourse you have is to run or hide. I can just imagine huddling in a corner trying to protect those who I love just hoping that the gunman doesn’t find us.

    Nothing makes me feel more helpless knowing that if a situation were to ever turn violent, that I will be unable to protect myself and the people I love because some bureaucrat thought it would be a good idea.

    The only people that follow these outrageous rules are the people that are law abiding citizens to begin with, which only makes it easier for the criminals who will prey on helpless and defenseless victims.

    The illicit acts involving a firearm are already illegal.
    Murder is illegal. Assault is illegal. But restricting firearms as a means to an end makes no sense at all.

    One can make crystal meth out of over the counter cold medicine. Does that mean it should be illegal for me to take cold medicine when I have a cold? Just because cold medicine CAN be used to manufacture illegal drugs?

  4. as a staff member at cal state eastbay, we (faculty and staff) received "active shooter" training last year.

    i didnt go. i knew it was total bulls**t.

    i finally got to read the handouts this overpaid person was giving out.

    one of his bullet points read something like "as a last resort when the active shooter goes into your office, use anything around you to throw at the person…"

    right then and there, i knew that this "training" was just a complete waste of time. it’s kinda sad.

    at our campus, i am a volunteer building safety assistant (BSA). i get training on basic first aid, CPR, evacuation techniques, etc. stuff that MIGHT save a person’s life.

    well except for one training.

    I brought up the idea of certain BSAs to be given CCW licenses and the look of the person, who was then in charge of the BSA program, was like i was talking in a foreign language.

    there’s one more thing about publicizing the fact that the campus is now CCW, is that the job it does as a deterrence. after all, when was the last a police station was the point of a mass shooting?

    i know we have armed campus cops. but as the old saying goes, "when you need help in seconds, the cops will be there in minutes…"

  5. Good Article! Gun Free Zones only disarm those who can protect others, it does nothing to stop murders.

  6. The salient irony here is that gun free zones naturally and logically only disarm those who are willing to follow the laws, that is law abiding citizens. Now, as to true criminals, these draconian laws have very little comment. Anyone concerned with his personal security and that of his family must rightly ask, whom do these laws really protect?

    Certainly, not the average citizen. He is less safe for not being allowed the means to defend himself or his family in the event of a threat. That point is inarguable, both logically and factually.

    Which leaves one to ask the obvious, whom do these laws actually impose upon?

    Answer, the law abiding citizen. Laws do not limit those who are already of the disposition to disregard laws, that is, criminals who use weapons in the furtherance of their crimes. Instead, these laws restrict only law abiding citizens.

    Now, one must ask a further, more unsettling question: Whom does the government truly desire to restrict and restrain?

    Law abiding citizens.

    Now, why does the government fear those law abiding citizens?

    Because the government is, in so many ways, itself lawless. What is more, it is an enormous racket of criminal behavior which grants unto itself the superficial veneer of legality and legitimacy. But the truth will out. The light is greater than the darkness. And it is this kernel of everlasting hope which has sustained oppressed peoples throughout the ages which our government now fears and rightly so.

  7. Ah the gun issue, almost as touchy as the gay marriage debate and the death penalty.

    I don’t like guns. I would never want one in my house. But, I do think that Gun Free Zone aren’t accomplishing what they intended to do (like many government programs “No Child Left Behind”?). I think that if you want to own a gun you a) under go serious training that must be repeated every some odd years or so b) a ridiculously stringent background test and c) to pay a fee every year (maybe) and are required to register and update every some odd period of time with a penalty for failure to do so. If you are a law abiding citizen and want a gun, then you shouldn’t have cause to complain. The laws should be used to make sure that the guns don’t fall into the wrong hands (as they so often do) and stay in the right ones.
    I also think they should make it almost as hard to purchase bullets (why would buy bullets without guns).

    Either way, the system is clearly not working.

    1. Unfortunately, that really does not work. Look at England. It is ridiculously hard to get firearms in general, but they started issuing firearms to the Police as there has been a giant increase in firearm crime. Simple fact is, criminals don’t obey the law. They never will or they would not be criminals. Even someone with modest machining skills can fashion a simple firearm. I was watching a program on prisons and they showed a device that could fire a .22LR round that was made by a prisoner. It was crude, but it worked.

      People always abuse things. Drunk drivers kill thousands each year, but it is still easier to buy a car AND alcohol than to buy firearms currently in California (Dont remember background checks, waiting periods, and safety certificates to buy a car or alcohol.) But these things kill more per year than firearms. We need to stop with the hoplophobia and start teaching firearm safety to everyone even if they never plan on using a gun. That way people will know how to safely handle firearms and lose that “ooh forbidden thing” aura that accompany firearms. Stricter punishments for gang related violence is also a HUGE must as that accounts for the majority of gun violence.

  8. Accepting mass shootings? Maybe you should look a little deeper. You may not be aware, but in other countries mass shootings occur far less and in some cases non-existent… guns are only part of the issue.

    1. Not quite sure what your point is here. It might be that the kind of person that perpetrates a mass shooting is typically NOT a career criminal and might find it harder to find a gun than he would in, say, England. That can lead to the kind of case in Scotland where a schoolboy made a flame thrower out of gasoline and a fire extinguisher and burned something like 14 people to death in a school hall (and horribly disfigured several others lucky enough to survive).

      However, this article is about Gun Free Zones in the U.S. and here I think it is hard to argue that GFZ’s do anything but create what should be called Unarmed Victim Zones.

      1. Sorry, I meant that it might be harder to find a firearm in England for those who are not career criminals. According to articles in the press over there, it isn’t that difficult for criminals to buy guns and the black market price isn’t much higher than the legitimate second hand market prices over here.

  9. NOBODY is trying to take your guns away from you. I find it mildly hilarious that there is an ammunition shortage in the U.S. because people are buying up guns like crazy, in fear that the government will enact stricter gun legislation. it won’t happen.

    Of course, this heightened hysteria has greatly benefited the domestic gun industry, which has seen record profits the past two quarters.

    If your primary concern is the military’s rules and ordinances regarding the checkout of weapons in regards to the Fort Hood tragedy, so be it. But worrying about tighter gun laws is a waste of your time. There are far more pressing issues in the United States than this, like our crumbling infrastructure and our dependence on petrol-dictators like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

    1. Yea one bridge in over two hundred years is the surest sign ever we need to increase infrastructure spending from 34 billion/ year to 40 billion…that ought to stop it all from crumbling.

  10. Bud, people here in California are buying up ammo due to the passage of AB962. And the gun buying frenzy is coming to an end. When you have people like the Brady Campaign and people like Kevin DeLeon constantly hounding at you to slowly restrict firearms and ammo, it is hard not to be paranoid.

  11. I have a big problem with our government charging "fee"(read tax) to exorcize any of our rights. That is how you create a class based society. Are you going to deny a poor person the ability to protect their family or others for one more drop in the general fund? As for your point about ammunition: bullets can be made at your kitchen table. The only people that would stop are people who are not out to do harm.

    By the way, in Forida over a 21 year period and 1,408,907 CCW permits ony 166 were revoked for firearms related offenses and 4500 for any reason. Not too shabby

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