On Thursday, a shooter reported killed at least 13 people and injured many others at a community college in Oregon. Just minutes after the incident, commentators sought to attribute the incident to the fact that Umpqua Community College was a “gun free zone.”
“The gun free zones are the areas that tell licensed gun owners that you are not allowed to carry your weapon in this facility…If you’re going to perpetrate some act, you know that most people are not going to be armed,” CNN “military analyst” Rick Francona said a few minutes after the shooting.
A retired Navy Seal, Jonathan Gilliam, also appearing on CNN, went even further. Blaming the “gun free zone” for the scope of the tragedy and adding “the only thing that’s going to stop a gun is another gun.”
Umpqua Community College, however, was not a gun free zone. A 2011, state court decision prohibited public colleges from banning guns on campus. The decision stemmed from a suit filed by the Oregon Firearm Education Foundation, a gun rights group. There was an effort to pass a new law to reinstate the ability of public colleges to ban guns. That measure was defeated by gun rights advocates.
The conservative site Breitbart and others assert that guns were banned at UCC. This is not true. The student code of conduct bans guns "without written authorization." Under Oregon law, the university could not ban people with a valid concealed carry license from bringing their weapons on campus. (They could ban gun from various buildings and facilities.) Conservative writer Dana Loesch, who initially claimed the campus was a "gun free zone," updated her article to clarify that individuals with concealed carry permits were allowed to bring guns on campus.
There was, in fact, someone on campus with a concealed carry weapon at the time of the massacre. A local reporter explained to CNN that it was legal for him to have such a weapon on campus.