Here’s How Many Lives Were Taken in Just 8 Armed Attacks in Gun Free Zones

AP/Amarillo Globe-News, Michael Schumacher
AP/Amarillo Globe-News, Michael Schumacher

Calls for more gun control almost always follow a public crime or terror attack in which the attacker–or attackers–use a gun. Yet many of the most infamous attacks take place in gun free zones–places where law-abiding citizens disarm themselves to comply with the rules while criminals take advantage of disarmed masses and open fire.

What follows are just a few of the many examples of shootings in gun free zones that could be listed. There is not one type of firearm that can be blamed–the weapon used was sometimes a handgun, sometimes a rifle, other times a shotgun–nor is there one specific race that can be pinpointed–the attackers come from various races/ethnicities. Nor is this a situation where expanding background checks would have made even the slightest difference–all the attackers listed but one, Adam Lanza, passed a background check for their firearms. Lanza opted to steal his guns instead.

The common thread is that the attacks took place in areas where the gunman knew he could inflict damage at his own pace, without the threat of reprisal from armed citizens:

Lafayette Grand Theatre: On July 23 John Russell Houser allegedly opened fire with a .40 caliber pistol, killing two people–Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson–and injuring nine others in a gun free zone.

Chattanooga: On July 16 Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on two military locations–one a recruitment office, the second a Navy Operational Support Center. The attack killed five people–USMC Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, USMC Lance Corporal Squire K. Wells, USMC Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, USMC Sgt. Carson Holmquist, and US Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith–in a gun free zone.

Fort Hood (2014): On April 2, 2014, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez opened fired on fellow soldiers, killing Sgt. 1st Class Danny Ferguson, Sgt. Timothy Owens, and Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, and wounded 16 others in a gun free zone.

DC Navy Yard: On September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis opened fire with a shotgun, killing 12 people in a gun free zone. WSB-TV reported those 12 included 59-year-old Michael Arnold, 53-year-old Sylvia Frasier, 62-year-old Kathy Gaarde, 73-year-old John Roger Johnson, 50-year-old Frank Kohler, 46-year-old Kenneth Bernard Proctor, and 61-year-old Vishnu Pandit. Eight others were wounded.

Sandy Hook Elementary: On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza opened fire with a rifle in a gun free zone, killing 20 students and 6 unarmed staff. The New York Daily News listed the names of those killed: Charlotte Bacon (DOB 2/22/06), Daniel Barden (9/25/05), Rachel Davino (7/17/83), Olivia Engel (7/18/06), Josephine Gay (12/11/05), Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06), Dylan Hockley (3/8/06), Dawn Hocksprung (6/28/65), Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06), Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06), Chase Kowalski (10/31/05), Jesse Lewis (6/30/06), James Mattioli (3/22/06), Grace McDonnell (11/04/05), AnneMarie Murphy (07/25/60), Emilie Parker (5/12/06), Jack Pinto (5/6/06), Noah Pozner (11/20/06), Caroline Previdi (9/7/06), Jessica Rekos (5/10/06), Avielle Richman (10/17/06), Lauren Russeau (6/1982), Mary Sherlach (2/11/56), Victoria Soto (11/4/85), Benjamin Wheeler (9/12/06), and Allison N. Wyatt (7/3/06).

Aurora Movie Theater: On July 20, 2012, James Holmes opened fire with a rifle in a gun free zone at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. He killed 12 innocents and Fox News reported their names as 26-year-old Jonathon Blunk, 18-year-old Alexander Boik, 29-year-old Jessie Childress, 51-year-old Gordon Cowden, 24-year-old Jessica Ghawi, 27-year-old John Larimer, 27-year-old Matt McQuinn, 23-year-old Micayla Medek, 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 27-year-old Alex Sullivan, 24-year-old Alexander Teves, and 32-year-old Rebecca Wingo. 70 additional persons were listed as injured. All killed in a gun free zone that was only “gun free” for law-abiding citizens.

Fort Hood (2009): On November 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers in a gun free zone at Fort Hood, killing 13. The Huffington Post listed their names: 62-year-old Michael Grant Cahill, 52-year-old Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, 32-year-old Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, 56-year-old Capt. John Gaffaney, 29-year-old Spc. Frederick Greene,  22-year-old Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 29-year-old Sgt. Amy Krueger, 19-year-old Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 22-year-old Pfc. Michael Pearson, 51-year-old, Capt. Russell Seager, 21-year-old Pvt. Francheska Velez, 55-year-old Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, and 23-year-old Pfc. Kham Xiong. Hasan shot and injured at least 30 others in the gun free zone.

Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech): On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho used a handgun to open fire on fellow students in a gun free zone at Virginia Tech. He killed 32 and wounded 17 others.  NBC News listed those killed: Liviu Librescu, Ryan Clark, Kevin Granata, Juan Ramon Ortiz, Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Christopher James Bishop, Brian Bluhm, Austin Cloyd, Jocelyn Couture-Nowak, Daniel Perez Cueza, Kevin Granata, Matthew Gwaltney, Caitlin Hammaren, Jeremy Herbstritt, Rachael Hill, Jarrett Lane, Matthew Le Porte, Henry Lee, G.V. Loganathan, Partahi Lombantoruan, Lauren McCain, Daniel O’Neil, Minal Panchal, Erin Peterson, Michael Pohle, Julia Pryde, Mary Read, Reema Samaha, Waleed Shaalan, Leslie Sherman, Maxine Turner, and Nicole White.

There you have it–eight attacks over the last 8 years in which gunmen opened fire in places where citizens were disarmed by policies that treat law-abiding citizens and criminals alike. The result? 105 innocent lives taken and more than 150 others injured by gun fire in gun free zones.

The bottom line–gun free zones are not gun free for criminals. Rather, they are soft targets that offer an invitation to attackers who do not want to face the possibility of would-be victims shooting back.

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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