The New York Times discovers signs don't stop shootings

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

After the Supreme Court struck down New York’s “may issue” concealed carry laws last June, the city of New York was quick to start installing “Gun Free Zone” signs in Times Square; one of the many parts of the city that anti-gun politicians designated as “sensitive places” off-limits to those licensed to carry a concealed firearm. That designation is also supposed to apply to people illegally carrying firearms, but until this weekend I would have assumed that even in New York no one seriously assumed that a sign was going to stop criminal activity.


In the wake of a murder in Times Square on Thursday evening, however, the New York Times seems to seriously be questioning why the signs didn’t stop the shooting.

The shooting was the first since the creation of the expansive, signposted zone, the police saidin a statement, and it immediately renewed questions about whether such a designation can truly protect the area.

“People feel emboldened to carry guns on the street,” said Tom Harris, a retired New York police inspector and the president of the Times Square Alliance, which promotes businesses and coordinates major events.

“A gun-free zone is not going to stop a criminal from carrying a gun,” Mr. Harris said.

The shooting renewed questions? Here’s a simple answer: No, posting a sign that says firearms are prohibited will not stop those with criminal intent or murder on their mind from illegally carrying in a gun-free zone. In fact, those “sensitive places” may embolden them to believe that these locations are going to be full of unarmed victims.

Thursday’s shooting should have been a wakeup call to all those New Yorkers who were blissfully ignorant to that reality, but New York Mayor Eric Adams is doubling down on the false premise that forbidding lawful concealed carry makes Times Square a safer place.


In a statement on Friday, Mr. Adams said that under his administration, the police are removing illegal guns off the street daily and the sale of untraceable firearms without serial numbers — known as ghost guns — to the city through five online retailers had stopped.

“But this shooting underscores the need to ensure Times Square remains a sensitive location” under the state’s law, he said.

It is not clear, however, how safe these laws make the cities and towns that pass them, according to the RAND Corporation, which has studied such regulations across the country.

“A nationwide database on gun-free zones does not exist, and different decisions about how to classify these areas can lead to widely differing conclusions,” the study said.

Mr. Harris said the shooting on Thursday showed the need for a more holistic approach to fighting crime at the state level, such as imposing stronger punishments on repeat violent offenders.

This is about as close as I’ve ever seen the New York Times get to admitting outright that a particular gun control policy isn’t worth the paper its printed on, either in a news story or an opinion piece. Even with this reluctant acknowledgement, I doubt the paper’s editors will have a change of heart when it comes to the Second Amendment. The  Times may have discovered the uselessness of “gun-free zones”, but that doesn’t mean that it’s embraced the right to bear arms in self-defense.


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