UPDATED 7/29 11:10: Less than two weeks before Sunday’s mass shooting incident at the Gilroy, California Garlic Festival, the chief executive at one of the nation’s largest and most legally-active Second Amendment groups called for an end to so-called “gun-free zones”—which the festival grounds were—because they are “shooting galleries for maniacs.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Christmas Hill Park “had security checkpoints with metal detectors.” But that didn’t prevent the carnage.
BULLETIN: The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that the rifle used in Sunday’s attack was legally purchased earlier this month in Nevada.
Today, with three people dead including a 6-year-old child and a dozen more injured, authorities in Gilroy are trying to sort out why an alleged killer identified by CBS News as Santino William Legan, 19, opened fire after apparently cutting through a wire fence to gain access. Legan is reportedly from Nevada, but his father lives in the area.
Back on July 19, Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, called for an end to “gun-free zones” by launching a national advertising campaign. Its message is simple: “Nobody wants to be a sitting duck in a maniac’s shooting gallery.”
The dead youngster was identified as Stephen Luciano Romero of San Jose.
Police officers on the scene, acting as security, quickly engaged the suspect and shot him dead. Investigators are trying to determine a motive, and there is also an on-going search for a possible second suspect, according to published reports.
Reacting to the Sunday afternoon shooting that broke out near the end of the weekend festival, author and researcher John Lott, head of the Crime Prevention Research Center, wrote at his website, “Do you wonder why there isn’t someone to stop some of the mass public shootings in places such as California? Santa Clara County where the attack occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival provides an all too typical example. Three people were killed and 15 injured. In 2018, the County with a little over 1.5 million adults had issued just 113 concealed handgun permits — that is just 0.007% of adults. To put it differently, that is only 1 permit issued for every 14,300 people. General citizens in Santa Clara County are banned from being able to carry concealed handguns.”
But because weapons of any kind were prohibited at the festival, and visitors were checked before being allowed to enter, having a carry permit apparently would have made no difference. Still, it’s an interesting observation.
Police were able to quickly engage the shooter, but the incident underscores what many California gun law critics have contended is the futility of laws that have disarmed the wrong people. The Golden State has among the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet this incident happened.
Whether the Gilroy tragedy will add momentum to the SAF effort to eliminate gun-free zones remains to be seen. What is known is that SAF’s Gottlieb offered this perspective: “Without a self-defense option, we are all at greater risk.”
He said designating an area a “gun-free zone” creates “the mere illusion of safety.”
“For more than two decades,” Gottlieb said ten days ago, “the U.S. has perpetuated a false sense of security with gun-free zones. It’s time to end this dangerous folly.”