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The Roundtable: Do Gun-Free Zones Work?

Mass shooters tend to choose areas where no one else is allowed to carry a weapon. What are the policy implications of this fact?

The recent mass shootings in the U.S. have reawakened a frequent debate: what really causes mass shootings, and will gun control laws stop them? A panel of experts joined Roundtable to discuss the phenomenon and potential solutions. In this segment, the panel discuss gun-free zones and the racial dimension of gun control. 

Crime researcher John Lott points out that many shootings in the U.S. do not have mass death as a goal, but are related to gang activity.

"There are two general terms that are used by the FBI or other government agencies for mass public shootings," he says. "Those would be things like the school shooting, or the Buffalo shooting, where the point of the attack is simply to go and kill as many people as possible in a public place. The vast majority, about 87%, are gang-related shootings. Anytime people get killed is important, but I think the causes and solutions for those two different types of cases are dramatically different from each other, and we should try to keep them separate."

Lott goes on to argue that limiting areas where firearms are allowed is counterproductive—and only serve to advertise those zones as soft targets to would-be mass shooters.

"[The Buffalo supermarket and Uvalde] were gun free zones in the sense that civilians weren't able to have guns for protection in those places," he says. 

"If you read the manifesto for the Buffalo killer, he explicitly talks about how he picked the target that he did because he wanted to go to a place where he knew the victims weren't gonna be able to go and defend themselves. Ninety-six percent of successful mass public shootings in this country occur in places where civilians are banned from having guns."

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Watch the full discussion below:

Roundtable Guests:

John Lott, President, Crime Prevention Research Center

Douglas Husak, Co-Director, Institute for Law and Philosophy, Rutgers University

Frank McAndrew, Professor of Psychology, Knox College

Niko House, Political Analyst