'The' Question about Gun-Free Zones
Are 'safe havens' really safe?
Sandy Hook, the Aurora movie theatre and Columbine were safe havens that became sites of senseless tragedies. Discussions about mass killings in Gun-Free Zones resurface from time to time, leaving us angry and speechless from the reminder of the grief and pain that comes with losing loved ones.
These terrible events have led to debates from opposing sides. One side wants stricter gun laws and regulations, while the other side favors armed guards and concealed carry permits for teachers and adult students.
On July 22, 2011, a gunman dressed in a homemade police uniform gained access to an island outside Oslo, Norway. The island was filled with 564 people, mostly teenagers, all attending an annual summer camp. At 5:22 p.m. local time, the first shot was fired. Armed with a handgun and a rifle, Anders Breivik killed 69 people and injured 110 in an hour. It was a massacre. Only one off-duty police officer was present on the island. He was unarmed and became one of the first victims. Breivik surrendered to the police once they arrived on the island.
On this Norwegian island in 2011, an insurgent was able to shoot 179 people, killing 69, before surrendering to police.
Norway is a country with strict gun laws and regulations. Even the police are mostly unarmed and carry firearms only in emergency or special security situations. In this case and prior to the first shot fired, armed security was not in place. The small Norwegian island turned out to be a safe haven for an evil act.
Compared with U.S. shootings, this event had a much higher body count. However, what all the shootings have in common are the dramatic minutes from when the first shot was fired until resistance was in place to stop the killing spree. Minutes and seconds count when it comes to saving lives, whether it is victim one or victim 69.
On Wednesday, April 1 at 4:30 p.m. ET, Outdoor Channel will air a documentary called Safe Haven. The special documentary takes a critical look at the history of gun-free zones in the United States and their effect on crime prevention through a series of interviews with law enforcement, industry experts and survivors. How effective or ineffective gun-free measures are explored along with possible solutions that would better protect schools, businesses and the public at large.
A wide range of topics where both sides of the debate are represented will be covered. The documentary will leave the viewer with enough information to ascertain an opinion of their own.
The discussion about a solution or prevention can all be summed up with the word “trust.” Do we trust individual citizens, teachers, mall security personnel and others to have the proper tools and education to be the first responder when evil comes for a visit? When we enter the safe havens of the world, we all seem to be dependent on the preparedness of others and the time it takes for them to respond.
But we all have a personal responsibility for our own safety. Avoidance, awareness and preparedness are all key elements in our own personal defense strategy. Should avoidance be the proper tool when you’re only dependent on security personnel or law enforcement to keep you safe?
The teenagers on that Norwegian island camp, or safe haven, didn’t see it coming. Think about that the next time you pass a sign which says, “No Guns Allowed.” What is considered safe by some is an open invitation by others to do harm.
Watch the documentary – Safe Haven – and don’t be afraid to have discussions with your co-workers, school board members, business owners and most importantly, with your family.
Editor’s Note: Visit the “Safe Haven” show page for all air times on Outdoor Channel.