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Mall Signs Might as Well Read 'Please Shoot Me'

December 17, 2007

Omaha, Nebraska - The day after my hometown was rocked by the senseless murder of eight innocent people and the wounding of five others in a local shopping mall, 'Today Show' co-host Meredith Vieira asked this obtuse question of two of the shooter's friends: "Do you think your friend was a victim?"

Therein lies the problem with our society's view of guns and gun violence. The rights of victims are forgotten while murderers are called victims.

Poor Robbie Hawkins. Apparently 265,000 of our hard-earned tax dollars spent on this "victim" over the last several years by our Health and Human Services system was an insufficient amount.

Possibly his various foster parents victimized him by not recognizing the signs of depression evident in the lad.

Perhaps it was our education system that simply failed to teach him how to read. How else do we explain the fact that he did not obey the clearly posted signs at the entrances to the mall that state, "No concealed weapons allowed"? He must not have been able to read those signs. Otherwise, surely he would have obeyed the law.

Or perchance he was simply an overgrown narcissistic brat whose evil mind hatched a plan to become famous by taking out as many Christmas shoppers as possible before blowing his own brains out.

And maybe, just maybe, those signs are not the deterrent the PC crowd thinks they are. In much the same way that a salesman looks at a "no soliciting" sign on the front door of a business and translates it into, "We have no sales resistance here," young Robbie looked at the "no concealed weapons" sign and read, "Murderers welcome here. Please come in and shoot as many people as you like. No one here is capable of stopping you. Even our mall security officers are not armed."

As Dr. John Lott, one of the nation's foremost authorities on gun violence and the author of 'More Guns, Less Crime,' wrote less than 24 hours after this shooting: "A Google search using the phrase 'Omaha Mall Shooting' finds an incredible 2,794 news stories worldwide for the last day. From India and Taiwan to Britain and Austria, there are probably few people in the world who haven't heard about this tragedy. But despite the massive news coverage, none of the media coverage, at least by 10 a.m. Thursday, mentioned this central fact: Yet another attack occurred in a gun-free zone."

Think about it. The three most thoroughly "gun-free" zones in America are schools, shopping malls and U.S. Post Offices. When was the last time you heard about a gunman shooting up a police station, an Army base or even a casino? Why do you think that is?

Do you honestly think the 24-year-old shooter in Colorado Springs would have targeted the New Life Church had he known an armed security guard was in the church service?

"There could have been a great loss of life here, and she probably saved over a hundred lives," New Life Pastor Brady Boyd said concerning the female security guard.

At Virginia Tech last spring, 32 people were gunned down in a gun-free zone. At Columbine High School in 1999, 13 innocent people were killed. In a Killeen, Texas, café in 1991, 23 died at the hands of a gunman run amuck. And in a Southern California McDonalds restaurant in 1984, 21 lost their lives when a shooter went berserk. These are just a few of the shooting incidents around the world, all enabled by the same failure: there was no way to stop those responsible for perpetrating the killings.

After years of debate, the Nebraska Legislature passed a concealed-carry law last spring. It permits law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm after paying a fee, completing a training course and submitting to a background check. However, as is so often the case with contested legislation, compromise was necessary for passage. In this case, the compromise consisted of allowing communities and businesses to opt out. Of course, this was a victory for liberals, who seem to believe that guns somehow can kill on their own. Unfortunately, for those of us who understand that inanimate objects do not kill people, this left a gaping hole in an otherwise useful law.

The upscale Von Maur store at the Westroads shopping center remained closed following the shootings. If I were the CEO of that corporation, before I authorized the reopening of that store, I would change the signs on the doors to read, "Law-abiding Nebraskans carrying concealed weapons welcome here."

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Copyright ©2007 Doug Patton

Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself more often than not. His weekly columns are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Readers are encouraged to email him at dpatton@cagle.comand/or to follow him on Twitter at @Doug_Patton.