2/02/2013

Mayors Against Illegal Guns gets supposed list of shootings where guns were allowed all wrong

I have previously noted that there were two multiple victim public shootings that weren't in gun-free zones.  Those were the Gabrielle Giffords and the Carson City, NV IHOP shootings.

In response to my statements, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) has put together a list of their own cases where they claim that more shootings have occurred where guns are allowed.  The group's chairman, John Feinblatt, had a relatively long 255 word letter in the Wall Street Journal publicizing this report.   What should be very clear to anyone who has worked in this area is that you can't simply look at a few news stories to determine whether an attack has occurred in a gun-free zone.  Indeed, as I have complained many times, the media virtually always refuses to mention whether the attack occurred in a gun-free zone (many of my op-eds have also made this point).  For those who follow this blog, it should be fairly clear that others and I do a lot of work in obtaining information about different attacks.  This includes calling the businesses or other facilities involved.  But many times those organizations are uncooperative and in those cases I have spent a lot of time contacting individuals in the area of the attack and asking them if they can provide pictures or other information on the facilities.  Dozens of individuals around the country can attest to me bothering them over the years after these incidents.

Unfortunately, Mayors Against Illegal Guns did not do this work, and they have also inaccurately stated, ignored, or simply missed material that is readily available in news stories.  Let me go through the cases in the MAIG report.
Geneva County, AL, 3/10/09: The shooter killed ten, including four members of his family, before killing himself. 
Shooter Name: Michael Kenneth McLendon, 28 
Gun details: Bushmaster AR-15, SKS Rifle, Shotgun, and .38 Pistol 
Ammo details: Police recovered additional ammunition from his vehicle after the shooting. Gun acquired: Unknown. 
Prohibiting criteria: The shooter had no criminal record and there is no indication he was prohibited from owning a gun. 
Not a gun-free zone: It was lawful to carry a firearm in the public intersection and gas station where two of the individuals were shot.
Nine people were killed by McLendon. In the first shooting in a house on Pullum Street, five people were killed.  There was also a second shooting in another home that left two people dead.  Neither were public places.  It is true that two individuals were killed in separate public places as McLendon was driving along, but that is not a multiple victim public shooting in which at least four are killed in a public place.  However, MAIG’s report implies that all these shootings occurred in a public places.
Lakewood, WA, 11/29/09: The shooter killed four police officers in a Tacoma Coffee shop, eluding police for two days before being killed as he fled.
Shooter Name: Maurice Clemmons, 37
Gun details: When he was killed, he was in possession of the handgun of one of the officers he had killed.
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: Unknown
Prohibiting criteria: The shooter was prohibited from purchasing a firearm, having been charged with at least 13 felonies across two states. He had posted bail for raping a child just six days before the attack.
Not a gun-free zone: The police officers were armed at the time of the shooting.
I haven't defined gun-free zones in terms of whether police were allowed to carry guns, but whether private citizens are able to readily obtain concealed handguns for their protection.  What is important is that the coffee shop was posted to prevent concealed carry permit holders from carrying.  Presumably MAIG understood this point and that is the reason why they focused on police officers being able to carry in this venue.  Obviously, however, on-duty police can carry any place.  The problem for uniformed police is that they provide an easily identifiable target and it is easy to take them out.  Possibly if the attacker had to worry about permit holders who he could not identify, it would have dissuaded him from attacking.  While I had checked when this event originally occurred, I reconfirmed this information with Dave Workman who lived nearby via email on January 8, 2013.  
Carthage, NC, 3/29/09: The shooter opened fire at a nursing home where his estranged wife worked, killing eight and injuring three before he was shot and arrested by a police officer.
Shooter Name: Robert Stewart, 45
Gun details: .357 Magnum handgun and Winchester 1300 shotgun
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: The guns were acquired legally from a local sporting good store.
Prohibiting criteria: There is no indication the Stewart was prohibited from owning a gun.
Not a gun-free zone: We could find no indication that the property-owner forbid carrying of firearms on their property.
This facility informed me in April 2009 that they did not allow guns in the facility for either the people living there or the staff.  I called up asking what their policies had been before the attack.
Boston, MA, 09/28/10: The shooter killed four and wounded one during a drug-related robbery.
Shooter Name: Edward Washington, 33, and Dwayne Moore, 35, were both charged in the killings. Washington was acquitted. In Moore’s first trial, the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of his guilt, but he was later convicted in a retrial.
Gun details: 40-caliber Iberia handgun and 9mm Cobray semiautomatic. The Cobray has not been recovered, but the weapon was identified based on recovered bullets and shell casings.
Ammo details: 14 rounds fired
Gun acquired: Unknown
Prohibiting criteria: Unknown
Not a gun free zone: A person with a Massachusetts Class A license could lawfully carry a firearm in this area. 
Buffalo, NY, 8/14/10: The shooter opened fire on a group of people outside a bar, killing four and wounding four others.
Shooter Name: Riccardo McCray, 24
Gun details: Unknown
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: Unknown
Prohibiting criteria: McCray had been arrested earlier that year on felony drug charges and the previous year for having a loaded rifle in his car. If he was found guilty of either crime, he would have been prohibited from possessing firearms.
Not a gun-free zone: We could find no indication that it was unlawful to carry a firearm in the area.
Both cities either forbid or make it incredibly difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns for protection.  In Boston it is so bad that even off-duty and retired police are regularly denied unrestricted license to carry permits.
Oak Creek, WI, 8/5/12: The shooter killed six people at a Sikh temple and injured three others, including a responding police officer, before killing himself.
Shooter Name: Wade Michael Page, 40
Gun details: 9mm semiautomatic handgun
Ammo details: Page reportedly bought three 19-round magazines when he purchased the gun.
Gun acquired: Page acquired the gun at a local gun shop a week before the shooting.
Prohibiting criteria: Page was involved with the white supremacist movement but he does not appear to have been prohibited from purchasing a gun. Federal officials investigated Page’s ties to supremacist groups more than once prior to the shooting, but did not collect enough evidence to open an investigation.
From FoxNews.com: “No guns [were] allowed in the temple,” Kulbir Singh, an attendee of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, told FoxNews.com. “Everyone knows that it’s not allowed, anywhere in the temple.” 
Norcross, GA, 2/22/12: The shooter returned to a Korean spa from which he'd been kicked out after an altercation, where he shot and killed two of his sisters and their husbands before committing suicide.
Shooter Name: Jeong Soo Paek, 59
Gun details: .45 caliber handgun
Ammo details: Unknown
Gun acquired: Police reported that he acquired the gun legally.
Prohibiting criteria: Paek does not appear to have been prohibited, although he had allegedly served two months in jail for assaulting his sister six years earlier.
Not a gun-free zone: We could find no indication that the property owner forbade possession of a firearm on their property.
In one of the more difficult conversations that I have had, I spoke with someone at the spa after the attack and they indicated that they were sure that neither the sisters nor their husbands had guns at the spa and that the killer who was the brother of the women knew that was the case.  I was told that the killer knew "nobody there had a gun."  While I don't know what the official policy at the spa was because the person that I was talking to was upset and didn't want to continue the conversation, the important thing was that the killer knew that there were no guns for people to defend themselves there.  This was a small family owned establishment so it is most likely that this was the official policy of the family.  Note that they have the wrong date on this event.  The event actually occurred on February 20, 2012.  Note also that the business has since closed.
Mount Airy, NC, 11/01/09: The shooter killed four people outside a television store before eventually surrendering to the police.  
Shooter Name: Marcos Chavez Gonzalez, 29  
Gun details: Assault rifle. 
Ammo details: Unknown 
Gun acquired: Unknown  
Prohibiting criteria: The shooter was a prohibited purchaser, having been convicted of kidnapping a minor in 2002.  
Not a gun-free zone: It was lawful to carry a firearm in the area of the shooting.
Indications are that the attack was part of gang related crime.  As I have explained before, that would exclude it from the cases that Bill Landes and I examined.

Just in case MAIG decided to rewrite their report, I have saved a pdf copy of it available here.  Possibly MAIG might have been more successful in their task if they had bothered to look up how my past research with Bill Landes has defined these gun-free zones is available here.


There are a few other cases that I have collected that I will link to here.


The Azana Salon & Spa shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (November, 2012).

Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting (July, 2012).
Another shooting in a another gun free zone: Binghamton, NY (April, 2009).
Trolley Square Mall in Utah (February, 2007).
Omaha, Nebraska mall shooting (December 2007).
I have about 327 postings on gun-free zones available here.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the MAIG "report" has gotten coverage without those who have looked at it doing any additional research.  Here is something from the MinnPost by Susan Perry and the MinnPost kindly puts up the report on their site.

Labels: , , , ,

8 Comments:

Blogger FZ said...

Excellent takedown. I note these mayors go out of the way to point out when the guns were obtained legally. Assuming their assessment is true, it kinda undermines the idea that background checks are effective, don't it? (Also note, none of the guns that were allegedly obtained legally came from gun shows.)

2/03/2013 3:22 AM  
Blogger Steven Schveighoffer said...

This is a technical detail, and does not exactly refute your findings, but the Boston shooting was not in a "gun free zone". Yes it is difficult to get permits to carry for *residents* of Boston. But it is quite easy to get permits to carry for residents who live *outside* Boston (I have one). Those permit holders are allowed to carry in Boston (unlike NYC, I believe there aren't any special rules for Boston CCW).

So while the Boston incident didn't technically occur in a "gun-free" zone, it's certainly an area where you can count on less legal guns. It is worth noting that a large portion of Boston workers commute from outside the city, and would likely be able to carry while working/doing business in the city. There are other dynamics at play -- it's likely many businesses disallow firearms (although I don't think such postings are legally binding). So if you don't *live* in Boston, and you have to visit such a business or work there, you would likely not carry even if you legally could (generally, permit-holders I would think respect such wishes).

A good recent article on Mass CCW laws.

8/08/2013 1:57 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Steve:
1) No one in Boston is able to get a permit. Not even retired police. Few carry permits are given to people in the surrounding suburbs. The shooting occurred in a residential neighborhood. Why anyone of the few people with permits from the suburbs would be in the neighborhood is not obvious.
2) As to gun free zone, I am generally talking about places where there are right-to-carry laws, though even a small percentage of people in discretionary states are given permits. In places with discretion, the rate of issuance is often a couple tenths of a percent so effectively those are gun-free zones.

9/06/2013 3:58 PM  
Blogger Steven Schveighoffer said...

I'm not disputing #1, and I don't know enough details about the shooting to have any opinion on whether it would be reasonable to assume that it was unlikely to contain guns. I was unaware that it was a residential neighborhood, I agree it would be very unlikely for legally armed people from "shall issue" towns to be in a residential neighborhood.

For #2, Massachusetts is a "May Issue" state, but for the most part, it's a "Shall Issue" state based on the police chief's discression. There are pockets of MA that issue only for "need" (which is ridiculous IMO, how do you know when you will "need" to fend off an attacker such as in this incident?), but the state is also relatively small. It's not uncommon for people to live in "shall issue" communities, but work in or around Boston. Here is a (admittedly undated, but likely still valid) map of the shall/may issue towns: http://www.hubflyer.com/wp-content/uploads/macitytowngun.png

I don't live in Boston, although I do live in a "may issue" town. I was able to get a no-restrictions permit having 0 experience with a gun because of my application story, while one of my friends in town who was a firearms instructor in the Marines was not. The "need" standard makes no sense to me, it should be based on experience/responsibility. My point was simply that technically it is legal to carry in Boston if you have a MA license -- other cities like NYC require special permission to carry even if you have a NY permit. Whether it's common for people to carry from outside Boston into Boston is not something of which I have any knowledge. It's conceivable that the carry rate is higher than the rate of Boston residents who receive permits. It's also likely that it's much lower than the rate of shall-issue states without special restrictions, or the rate of carry outside the city.

It would be interesting to study such numbers/possibilities.

9/06/2013 4:53 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Steve:
Thanks for the post. I think that it would be very difficult to call Massachusetts a "shall issue" state out side of Boston and its suburbs. You have to get a permit to own a handgun, but that permit could be either restricted or not restricted for carrying. The state doesn't release data on the number of nonrestricted permits, but my guess is that it is pretty small. The decision to issue is up to the individual sheriff. But count yourself very lucky for where you live. Look at Jacoby's piece here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/02/17/the-nation-toughest-gun-control-law-made-massachusetts-less-safe/3845k7xHzkwTrBWy4KpkEM/story.html

In 14 years the number of people who legally own any type of gun in Massachusetts has fallen from 1.5 million to just 200,000, an 86 percent drop. My impression is that the drop in the number of nonrestricted handgun permits has been even larger.

9/06/2013 11:43 PM  
Blogger Steven Schveighoffer said...

John, I have to call you out a bit on statistical gamesmanship here :) The article you quoted stated that registered gun owners went down from 1.5 million in 1998 to 200,000 in *2002*, not now, or 2012 (14 years after 1998). Not only that, but included in the license drop was the abolishing of lifetime licenses. So people who maybe didn't have a gun any more but still had a license simply because it was 'for life', didn't renew. That part at least can't exactly be considered a drop in gun ownership.

I expect that MA has seen a large increase in the last few years of gun ownership, mostly outside of Boston, like most other states who are viewing the latest developments from the anti-gun lobbyists. Anecdotally, instructors I have met say that they are immediately booked whenever they offer new classes for people trying to get permits. Logic follows that if there is an increase in people taking the class, there is an increase in people applying for licenses. And I can assure you that the ammo shelves at Wal-mart and Bass Pro are just as bare here (and clear out as quickly) as anywhere else. How much of an increase, I don't know. But certainly I would expect a significant increase. I wouldn't be surprised if it was at least 500k.

The data available online seems to be limited to 2002, which is woefully out of date.

Note that when I say "shall issue," it is understood that although you have to get a permit, and jump through the appropriate hoops, the police chief will give you an unrestricted license without any "extra" reason other than "For all lawful purposes". In other words, you have to take a class, you have to pay a fee, and you get a 6 year unrestricted license (unless you ask for something less, but I don't know who would do that), or you don't get a license due to legal disqualification. In the map I linked to, all the green communities are of this nature. I don't know how to consider this any way other than "shall issue." You want a permit to carry concealed, you legally qualify, you get it.

Keep in mind, I'm not trying to defend MA laws or rules in any way. But the current laws do allow for "shall issue" communities, and those permit holders have unrestricted ability to carry anywhere in the commonwealth, including Boston.

9/07/2013 12:20 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Sorry, in my rush I miss saw the date as 2012, when it should have been 2002. The point is still the same. Very few licenses granted for any type of gun, let alone unrestricted handgun permits. 200,000 licenses for 5.255 million adults is only 3.8%. What percent of those are handguns? What percent of those handguns are unrestricted? Pls try not to be obnoxious.

9/07/2013 12:29 AM  
Blogger Steven Schveighoffer said...

John, I'm not trying to be obnoxious, the mistake is understandable, and I apologize my off-hand comments came off as rude, they were not meant to be. It's difficult to judge sincerity or emotion from email or blog comments. I have great respect and admiration for the work you are doing. But I also think it is not irrelevant that the perception of guns in today's politics and culture even in MA is quite different from 2002 or 1998. We MA conservatives are not dead yet, and the fight over guns actually is quite energizing. If I ever were to become a single-issue voter, it would be over gun ownership restrictions.

Almost all licenses issued in MA are handgun licenses. The requirements to get a class A (only one town issues class B, so we can discount those) are the same as getting an FID (which only allows long guns), except you cannot get a class A until you are 21, you can get an FID at 18. If you are 21 or older, there is no reason to apply for an FID instead of a class A. I would expect all the licenses issued in green towns to adults 21 and older from that map to be class A unrestricted, simply because that's all they give out. That's probably a significant percentage of the total MA permits, but like you, I don't have exact data. Logic suggests that while the population is less in more rural areas, the gun ownership rate is likely much higher.

I found this article which lists individual gun owners as a percentage of each state's population, as of 2007 and cross referencing with google's Massachusetts 2007 population of 6.432 million, at 12.6% ownership, that's over 800,000. Crude, but maybe valid?

And that was before the Obama-induced gun craze. Now I'm thinking it's more like 900k to 1m.

9/07/2013 12:55 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home