In the wake of the massacre at an elementary school in Newton, Conn., that left 20 children, six adults, and the shooter dead Friday, the gun-control debate has been reignited.
But if the suspect, Adam Lanza, got his mother’s legally purchased and registered guns after murdering her, questions burn about how enacting more laws to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill would have helped.
The Libertarian Party said today the focus should be on ending the prohibition of self-defense in schools.
“We’ve created a ‘gun-free zone,’ a killing zone, for the sickest criminals on the face of the Earth,” said R. Lee Wrights, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party. “We’ve given them an open killing field, and we’ve made the children of this country the victims.”
Wrights argued that the presence of guns on campus would be a strong deterrent: “They’re not going to walk into a police station, and why not? Because that’s where the guns are,” he said.
The Federal Gun Free Schools Zone Act prohibits carrying firearms on school grounds in most cases. Without that law, the party argued, adults on campus could have been armed and ready to defend themselves and the children in the case of an attacker.
“We must stop blinding ourselves to the obvious: Most of these mass killings are happening at schools where self-defense is prohibited,” said Carla Howell, executive director of the Libertarian Party. “Gun prohibition sets the stage for the slaughter of innocent children. We must repeal these anti-self-defense laws now to minimize the likelihood they will occur in the future and to the limit the damage done when they do.”
The party noted that at this month’s mall shooting in Portland, Ore., the gunman took his own life minutes after being confronted by a shopper carrying a concealed weapon.
A 2012 church shooting in Aurora, Colo., was stopped by a member of the congregation carrying a gun. A 2009 workplace shooting in Houston was halted by two co-workers who carried concealed handguns. And on and on.
Libertarians also note the post-9/11 prohibition on pilots carrying guns in the cockpit, a ban recently lifted when Congress acknowledged that the pilots would be better able to stop hijackers if armed.
“You can’t depend on somebody else to take care of your own life for you,” Wrights said. “It’s too precious to put it into the hands of somebody else, particularly when the seconds count.”
The Libertarian Party platform on self-defense states: “The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights — life, liberty, and justly acquired property — against aggression. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the individual right recognized by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense. We oppose all laws at any level of government requiring registration of, or restricting, the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition.”
The party received the most votes in its history in this year’s presidential contest: 1,272,105 cast for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. That was more than double the 2008 total and more than triple the party’s 2004 count.
“It’s impossible to imagine the depths of despair and grief that the victims’ families are experiencing right now,” said Geoffrey J. Neale, Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. “Our hearts go out to every one of them.”