An internet diary
Published on December 9, 2007 By IanTyger In US Domestic

The Westroads Mall in Omaha, NE was the scene of another massacre by a mentally-disturbed individual last week. The killer's goals appeared to be to become famous and to die. He has suceeded at both, but in opposition to his goals, I will not name him.

As with many other shootings of this type, it occurred in a nominal "Gun-Free" zone. Unlike some others, I'm not going to claim that the killer chose his venue based on the lack of legal firearms, as other shooters have gone to police stations to die in infamy. Available evidence suggests that he chose a venue where many people were, in hopes of making a news sensation. But what I will say is that an individual with a desire to commit one crime (murder, burglary, rape, etc), being a criminal, is going to carry with him the tools of his crime, even if those tools are themselves illegal. A sign posted "No Guns Allowed" is not a magic shield, preventing the entry of firearms. It is a barrier to law-abiding citizens to carry in defense of themselves and the public. As this Firsthand account of the Von Maur shooting shows, at least one firearms owner was in a position to stop the killer. Except he didn't have a concealed carry permit. Why didn't he have a concealed-carry permit? Because the restrictions on the law-abiding carrying would have made it almost impossible for him to carry in daily life, so he had put off applying.

As is common in most malls that I have been in, the Westroads Mall had posted a sign with a code of conduct on it; one of the items on that sign was a prohibition on concealed firearms. How effective was this sign? How effective is any sign of this type? I typically see signs like this posted out of line of sight at the entrances of the mall, in small enough type that I have to make a conscious effort to read them; and when I do not only do they have the ineffective firearms ban, but they also have other behavior bans (such as those on photography) that are violated on a regular basis.

As much as I dislike the idea of a property owner forcing visitors to his property to disarm; I'm not going to argue that it should be made illegal - the right to property is a human right just as self-defense is. It is, however, immoral. "When seconds count, the police are minutes away". Reports from the incident say that the police were on-scene right around 6 minutes after the shooting started, a commendable response time. And they went in relatively rapidly after arrival. But the killer and all but 2 of his victims were dead by this time. At least one person was in a position to possibly stop the killer before he finished his work. (I say possibly because by the witness's own account, the killer had changed magazines once before the witness saw him, and other accounts imply that the killer took his own life after expending his second magazine.)

I had, in other venues, suggested that the victims' families sue the mall for wrongful death because of the banning of firearms on the premises - civil suit. It appears, however, that the mall management has pulled the code of conduct signs (Report from Westroads). If they come back without the firearms ban, I would retract that suggestion. Not becaue the mall management isn't responsible (they are) but because the desired action (removal of the immoral firearms restriction) has already occurred. (There are a number of other things the mall can and should do as well for the victims and their families, however).

on Dec 10, 2007
Excellent article.  Thanks for sharing it.
on Dec 10, 2007
the only thing that gun free zones are good for are to make sure that what happened during the attack in Colorado cannot take place.

ie if the guard had not been armed there would/could have been a lot more deaths.
on Dec 10, 2007
What was the difference between the Trolley Square shootings and those in the mall in Omaha?

The one in Utah was stopped by an off duty cop with a gun... not his own gun, but his wife's gun.

You are right, gun free zones only empower the criminal.
on Dec 10, 2007
Crazy world.

More guns in family-oriented places is definitely the answer.
on Dec 10, 2007
More guns *in the possession of responsible adults* is in fact the answer. Whether the responsible adults should be government employees or private citizens defending themselves and their neighbors is a question.

But in this situation, one gun in the hands of a responsible private citizen would quite possibly have saved several other lives.

All available evidence shows that civilians who hold CCW permits are significantly more law-abiding than the general populace, and most are much better trained at using firearms than the average run of cops (cops are generally mediocre in firearms skills; having rather more than firearms operations to train in).

And finally - who cares if it's a family-oriented location? There are concealed firearms in public in this state after all.
on Dec 11, 2007

who cares if it's a family-oriented location?

Definitely not the shooters.

on Dec 11, 2007
A concealled weapon carried by one with a permit has endangered any family oriented location... but they have saved lives in family oriented locations.