Conservative commentary: The danger of 'gun free' zones

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— My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones in the mass murder that we saw recently in Colorado Springs.

I am grateful that Jeane Assan had the mindset and means to defend herself and her fellow parishioners at New Life Church from a predator intent on further mayhem. She no doubt stopped an even worse tragedy. I find it interesting, however, that many in the media seem to be going out of their way to avoid the fact that Ms. Assan is not a sworn officer or a hired security officer, or anything other than what she is - an individual with a concealed carry permit and a personal weapon that chose to stand up and fight evil. Many of the mass murders that we have seen over the years were stopped by individuals with personal weapons.

But you wouldn't know it from the dominant media reports. It seems that the dominant media has a bias against self defense, especially involving firearms. They seem to believe that such defense should be left to the "professionals." This is fine if one can afford to hire armed bodyguards to accompany you constantly, but most of us are not in that position, and when seconds count, the police are often minutes away. I say this not to detract from our fine sworn officers, only to point out that they are not physically able, or legally responsible to defend us in that split second of crisis. No one else is able to defend us as well as we would defend ourselves.

For that reason, many in our community have taken it upon themselves to undergo the training and practice necessary to obtain concealed carry permits, just like Jeane Assan. We realize that we live in a dangerous world, and an armed response is sometimes prudent. But this brings up another interesting question.

The recent attacks on innocent shoppers at the mall in Omaha, Neb., only reinforce the notion that we are responsible for our own protection. Some mall and shop owners recognize this right and welcome us law-abiding, concealed carry permit holders into their stores. Others - the mall in Omaha, for example - display signs prohibiting concealed carry in an attempt to make their stores "Gun Free" zones. The reality is that by this prohibition, these store owners make the stores "Free Fire" zones, where a perpetrator is assured that he will hot have to worry about resistance to his murderous spree by fellow shoppers.

It is not a coincidence that these mass murderers pick schools, malls and churches as their targets. I'm sure that the young man that attacked New Life Church was shocked that his killing was stopped so quickly. He apparently had other plans for the upward of 1,000 rounds of ammo that he carried in his backpack, as he entered a church with thousands of worshippers present. By law (in the case of schools), custom and mall management preference, these places have become free fire zones that disallow personal protection. Maybe if the owners were held responsible for this loss of life, they would rethink the use of that "No Concealed Guns" sign.

Individuals use firearms every day to defend themselves against harmful attack, but most of us are not aware of this fact because the dominant mass media has an aversion to reporting it. My point is simply that for best results, we need to recognize the value of the armed individual, as well as sworn officers and armed security guards.

Dane Nowels is a sales territory manager with Ellen Equipment Corp. in Colorado Springs. He is also vice chairman of the El Paso County Republicans; president of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition; NRA Life Member; NRA Certified Pistol Instructor; and a member of the Conservative Leadership Counsel of Northwest Colorado. He holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the Ohio State University and has been a resident of Colorado Springs for 20 years.

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