John Lott, whose groundbreaking 1998 book "More Guns, Less Crime" exhaustively documented the way crime drops when local law is changed to require authorities to issue concealed firearm permits to all qualified applicants, made an interesting observation following the tragic Dec. 14 murders of 20 schoolchildren and six disarmed adults in Newtown, Conn.
In July, James Holmes, the suspect in the Aurora, Colo., killings of 12 movie-goers, had a choice of seven theater complexes within a 20-minute drive of his home that were premiering the Batman movie on which he was fixated.
The Cinemark theater the killer ultimately chose was neither the largest nor the closest to his home, Lott told John Fund of National Review Online, last week. (Lott first reported this at FoxNews.com, back in September.)
But the theater Holmes chose was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by those with permits. All the other theaters allowed the approximately 4 percent of Colorado adults with concealed-handgun permits to enter with their weapons.
The information could be learned with a few phone calls, Lott says. The gunman was clearly willing to go out of his way to take advantage of a gun-free zone.
"Disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks," Lott told Fund. "A couple hundred people were in the Cinemark theater when the killer arrived. There is an extremely high probability that one or more of them would have had a legal concealed handgun with him if they had not been banned" by the property owner.
In fact, "With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns."
Obviously, the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown was also a gun-free zone. Many states - including Nevada, but only since 1989 - bar even those school personnel with permits from carrying their self-defense weapons on school grounds. The governor of Michigan on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have allowed school personnel with permits to carry in Michigan schools, after being urged by the American Federation of Teachers that "The tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, is a chilling and heartbreaking reminder that firearms have absolutely no place in our schools."
Even if they could save children's lives.
So seductive is the magical thinking involved in creating self-defense-free zones that, shortly after the Cinemark attack in Colorado, the manager of the nearby Northfield Theaters changed its policy and began banning concealed handguns, Mr. Fund reports.
Many are shouting, these days, "Schools are no place for guns."
Even some police spokesmen say this. Yet strangely enough, when a police officer answers a call at a school, you'll never see that officer take off his sidearm and leave it locked in his car.
In 1974, three Arab terrorists broke into an Israeli school and killed 31 children and faculty. Did Israel respond by self-righteously asserting "Firearms have absolutely no place in our schools"?
No. Instead, they armed and trained their teachers and even parent chaperones, with the result that in the past 38 years, terror-beset Israel has not lost a single child within a school.
Law-abiding Americans with guns have an impressive record of cutting short the mayhem of would-be mass killers. In a shooting in Pearl, Miss., in October 1997, young Luke Woodham had slit his mother's throat before carrying a .30-30 deer rifle to school.
Woodham fatally shot two students as Vice Principal Joel Myrick, responding quickly to the sound of shots, dashed to his truck - parked more than a quarter-mile away as required by the "gun-free school zone" law - to recover and load his own Colt .45. He then raced back, captured and disarmed Woodham, holding a gun to his head for more than four minutes while waiting for police to arrive. This almost certainly saved lives, as Woodham had declared his intent to also shoot up another nearby school.
Look up similar cases of armed citizens stopping would-be murder sprees in their tracks at the National Shooting Club in Santa Clara, Calif. (July 1999), the Appalachian School of Law (2002) and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs (2007), for starters.
"The effect of 'shall-issue' concealed handgun laws which give adults the right to carry concealed handguns ... has been dramatic," John Lott reported in 1998. "When states passed them during the 19 years we studied, the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted on average by 90 percent, injuries by 82 percent."
Finally, to those including Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg News, who argue: "It is difficult for me to understand why ... someone defending his family from a home invasion would need a magazine with a 30-round capacity. If your home is being invaded by 20 or 30 burglars at once, you have an unmanageable problem. These high-capacity magazines should be banned," I reply: Take a self-defense class, please.
There you'll learn that, even when a clear shot offers itself in broad daylight, someone who has made the difficult decision to fire in order to stop an attacker and defend a life is taught to put two rounds in the center of mass and - if that fails to immediately stop the target - to put a third round in the head. That's three rounds per assailant, assuming half your rounds don't miss in a darkened room or aren't needed to force another assailant to keep his head down.
And that's leaving aside the fact that the victims of Nazi genocide had no way to defend themselves, since only the "law enforcement" agents were armed.
On March 31, 1995, Travis Dean Neel, a Korean War veteran, testified before the House Judiciary Committee's crime subcommittee that the day he was traveling to a shooting range near Houston with two 9 mm pistols in his car - Jan. 21, 1994 - he witnessed one of three escaping armed thieves hide in the back of their stolen vehicle while Harris County Deputy Sheriff Frank Flores attempted to place the other two culprits under arrest. The third then ambushed the deputy, shooting him repeatedly in the back, shoulder and upper chest.
"I heard five bullets hit him as he fell from my view," Neal testified. No other law enforcement personnel were at hand. So, Neel says, "I selected my CZ-75 pistol with three 15-round magazines. As I had done at Heartbreak Ridge over four decades ago, I wanted to have as much ammunition as I could carry. Running forward, I ... divided my shots between the three men, firing as fast as my finger would work, changing magazines every 15 rounds.
"After the three culprits ran off, I ... went to examine the Texas peace officer. I was shocked to see him alive."
The Harris County Deputy Sheriff's Union name Travis Dean Neel their Citizen of the Year for saving Deputy Flores' life, and for the "heroic actions" that led to all three armed thieves being arrested and charged with attempted capital murder of a police officer.
"Having those firearms - and those magazines - in my car that day saved my life and that of Deputy Flores," Neal told the subcommittee, though our mainstream media chose not to report this or any related testimony, that day. "Those who want to ban guns and the magazines that go with them tell you that only a criminal needs access to such 'high-capacity' magazines. But ... I fired 39 shots that day. ... If the gun and magazine ban had been in effect a few years earlier, things might have turned out differently."
Yet Mr. Goldberg would have us believe that - because there were only three armed felons - Mr. Neal couldn't possibly have needed more than three cartridges to get the job done.
How about the police? Will any of them volunteer to try out Mr. Goldberg's theory? The number of times a police officer is ever faced with more than three bad guys at a time must be infinitesimal. Will they volunteer to hit the streets carrying only a single magazine, holding only three rounds?
Why on earth not?
Vin Suprynowicz is an editorial writer for the Review-Journal and author of "The Ballad of Carl Drega" and the novel "The Black Arrow." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.