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Violence in Gun-Free Zones

State Sen. Bill Heath addresses Violence in Gun-Free Zones. Gun control legislation isn’t about guns—it’s about control.

Violence in Gun-Free Zones

Dear Editor,

There are three documents that serve as the compass for my life – the Holy Bible, the U.S Constitution and the Georgia Constitution. The Bible’s Ten Commandments outline God’s instructions to man while the two Constitutions protect man’s God given rights.

The framers of our Constitution understood that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were given to us by God, and this included the right to bear arms. When the founders drafted the Constitution, they understood the supreme importance of upholding God’s sixth commandment, “Thou Shall not murder.” At the same time, they understood that protection against intruding armies or those seeking to cause harm is a justified means of survival. The Bible set the precedent for this when the people of Israel were being attacked on all sides by their enemies. God did not go against his word by asking the Israelites to defend themselves, but knew the preservation of an entire nation was at stake if they did nothing to defend themselves. Similarly, when our nation was being invaded by foreign intruders during the Revolutionary War, our nation rose up to defend our land at all costs.

Many gun control advocates argue that citizens no longer possess bayonets and there is no longer a need for a militia—and therefore, the Second Amendment is no longer applicable. However, as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I firmly believe we need to protect this Constitutional right.

A few weeks ago, there was a lot of media attention surrounding the story of a mother who used deadly force to defend her life and the lives of her children. The mother was home alone with her children when she heard an intruder. She and her children hid in the attic, but the intruder came for them. She immediately called her husband, who called 911. In the recorded call, listeners clearly hear her husband instructing her to “Shoot him!”  Then, a few seconds later, “Shoot him again!” This chilling audio struck a chord with many citizens—even those who had previously been against the use of firearms. Blogs and discussion boards were heavy with comments from people who noted that, if they had been in the same situation, they wouldn’t have been able to do anything to stop the intruder. This incident illustrates an unfortunate truth: in a time when so many aggressors are willing to use deadly force to do harm, potential victims must use equal measures to defend themselves.

Firearms are the great equalizer; they’re equally effective in the hands of a 120 pound woman or a 320 pound man. In matters of self-defense, firearms allow our most vulnerable populations—women, children, the elderly and the sick—to protect their God-given right to life with the same force as an aggressor seeking to rob them of it.

Our founding fathers understood this principle, which is in part why they established the 2nd Amendment.

In what can only be called a knee-jerk reaction to “do something” after the recent mass shootings, President Obama released a list of executive actions and proposed Congressional actions in January. While some are reasonable (expanding mental health programs and developing model emergency response plans for schools, churches and colleges), the majority are overreaching and a blatant violation of other Constitutional rights.

Gun control legislation isn’t about guns—it’s about control. The right to bear and keep arms is one of the most fundamental rights of our nation, and new restrictive legislation will only impact responsible and law-abiding gun owners. These proposed laws will have unintended consequences, such as strip searches or frisking to determine weapons possession...

Many of the recent tragedies and lives that have been lost in crimes related to gun violence have occurred in gun-free zones. It’s important that we first define the term “gun-free zone.”  The Gun-Free School Zones Act is a federal United States law that prohibits any individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a "school zone.”

In practice, there are very few areas which are actually gun-free because ensuring gun-free zones requires use of x-ray machines, security guards or metal detectors. Airports, courthouses, and government buildings are examples of places that are true gun-free zones; supposedly the only people in possession of firearms are those who are legally required to do so, such as officers of the law.

False gun-free zones are those in which a “no guns allowed” sign is posted, yet there is nothing in place to defend this rule. This sign is posted on the entrances of schools, restaurants, shopping centers and many other public places, but unless each entrance has a metal detector and the manpower to enforce the rule, it is just that—a sign. These signs are not going to cause any individual compelled to cause harm to stop at the door and turn around. People who break the law don’t care about state or federal code or school rules. Thus, creating these so-called “gun free zones” is NOT the solution to stopping gun violence. These mass shootings are occurring in places where criminals know that citizens will be unarmed and have no method of self-defense. Guns are banned in schools nationwide, and yet shootings continue to happen where our citizens are most vulnerable.

These “gun free zones” also create other problems for our law-abiding citizens.  Those who honor the “gun free zones” are left with no way defend themselves as they walk into or out of those zones.  Those who have no safe place to store their weapons while visiting “gun free ones” are left defenseless for their whole trip.

Gun bills are not new to the Georgia General Assembly, but it is safe to assume that more bills have been filed in 2013 as a result of recent tragedies across the nation. Both pro-gun and gun control legislation has been introduced in both the Georgia House and Senate, including HB 26, HB 27, HB 28, HB 29, SB 33, SB 74, SB 93 and SB 101. Due to heightened media attention and public outcry on both sides of the spectrum, the filing of gun legislation at both the state and national level is at an all-time high.

I want to assure you that I will fight for and support any legislation that allows law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess a weapon and stand up against any legislation that threatens this right. It is not a “gun” that kills people. It’s “people” that kill people.

Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen

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