In the immediate aftermath of the gun massacre at Umpqua Community College, gun rights advocates attempted to pin the tragedy on the school’s status as a gun free zone.
That claim, as ThinkProgress first reported, is false.
The ThinkProgress report was confirmed by the New York Times and, more recently, by The Oregonian, the largest paper in the state. The Oregonian published a piece with the headline: “Umpqua Community College not a gun-free zone: Oregon laws prevent that.” The paper explained that “[e]veryone with a concealed firearms license is allowed to bring guns on campus. That is because a 1989 Oregon law forbids any public body except the Legislature from restricting the rights of concealed weapons permit-holders to bring guns where they wish.”
Indeed, there were several students with guns on campus at the time of the shooting. Although the school had a policy to prohibit guns except where expressly permitted by law “Oregon gun owners with concealed firearms licenses know those licenses entitle them to carry loaded guns in nearly all public places.”
The facts, however, have not prevented numerous people — including several presidential candidates — from claiming that UCC is a gun free zone.
1. Donald Trump
“The police did a fantastic job getting in that quickly, but there was nobody with any protection.”
“Wouldn’t they have been better off if somebody in the room, anybody, anybody, had a gun to at least help them out?” Trump said. “It was a terrible thing. And these gun-free zones are a disaster. Everybody’s just a sitting duck.” [Fox News, 10/4/15]
2. Mike Huckabee
Obama can shamelessly try and exploit any tragedy he wants, but it's clear that gun free zones are sitting duck zones. #UCCshooting
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) October 2, 2015
3. Carly Fiorina
“This campus was a gun free zone and yet somehow this individual got onto campus with not one gun but several guns. So, before we start calling for more laws I think we ought to consider why we don’t enforce the laws we have,” said Fiorina. [WAGT, 10/2/15]
4. Professor William A. Jacobson, USA Today
Gun-free zones presume the good intentions of those entering the zone. And the overwhelming majority have such good intentions. But for those who have bad intentions, gun-free zones turn schools and other locations into shooting galleries. The good people are unarmed, the evil person is armed.
And that looks like what happened at Umpqua Community College. The shooter had several critical minutes when he, and he alone, ruled over those who obeyed the gun-free zone rules. [10/4/15]
5. David French, National Review
— National Review (@NRO) October 2, 2015
6. Newt Gingrich
Trump is correct about the dangers pf gun free zones. Read Forstchen's Days of Wrath to see how dangerous gun free zones can be
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) October 4, 2015
7. Erich Pratt, Gun Owners Of America
Umpqua Community College is a Gun Free Zone. Gun Free Zones are the problem. We should repeal Gun Free Zones. [10/2/15]
Facts are important but even if Umpqua Community College was a “gun free zone” it would be of little significance. There is no evidence that “gun free zones” are magnets for mass shootings. Empirical studies show that more guns make things more dangerous.