A shooting at a mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin over the weekend left eight people injured and a 15-year old in police custody after he initially fled the mall in the chaotic aftermath of the shots that were fired. Inexplicably, Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride decided to focus his initial comments on trying to shame the gunman for not respecting the mall’s no-guns allowed policy.
Mayfair has a strict no-gun policy, McBride shared and said, “guns have no place in shopping malls or other places in which crowds of people gather… If the shooter had complied with that policy, no one would have been hurt yesterday.”
McBride went on to thank the Wauwatosa Police Department as well as nearby police departments for the protection they provided to those inside the mall, the Wauwatosa Fire Department for their attention to those injured, and the community “for their strength and determination. We have survived past challenges and we will survive this one.”
Of course McBride’s correct that if the shooter had complied with the mall’s no-guns allowed policy, the shooting wouldn’t have happened. But the 15-year old suspect allegedly shot eight people, which would indicate he didn’t care about following the law, much less a mall policy.
And that’s the problem with gun-free zones; they’re not really gun-free at all. Most law-abiding gun owners will respect a gun-free zone sign, though for many of us that means we’ll go find another place to shop. Criminals, on the other hand, view the signs as just a pieces of plastic, unworthy of attention or respect.
The mayor may believe that “guns have no place in which crowds of people gather,” but that only ensures that in the case of an attack on that large crowd there’ll be few, in any, individuals in a position to fight back. That appears to be the case at the Mayfair Mall, where the shooter blasted away without fear of anyone firing back before fleeing the mall amongst the crowd of panicked shoppers.
In this case, officers were on scene within 30 seconds, but that was still enough time for the suspect to get away. If an armed citizen had been present, it’s possible that they could have stopped the attack after the first few shots, saving innocent lives.
Of course it’s also possible that an armed citizen wouldn’t have been able to safely engage the attacker. It’s possible that the armed citizen would have shot and missed, and could even have hit an innocent civilian themselves. It’s even possible that police would have mistaken the armed citizen for the attacker, which could have led to fatal consequences.
All of things are possible, because carrying a gun for self-defense doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome. Not being allowed to carry a gun, on the other hand, ensures the impossibility of engaging a guy who’s opening fire on a crowd of people in a shopping mall. There are no guarantees in life, but I’d still prefer the scenario where the innocent victims have the opportunity to fight back.