Gun advocates are questioning the California state and Santa Monica College rules making campus a “gun-free zone” after a gunman went on a shooting spree Friday killing five people and injuring five others.
The gunman, 23-year-old John Zawahri, started the day by killing his father and brother. He then carjacked a woman, forcing her to take him to Santa Monica College where he shot and killed three more victims. Zawahri eventually died in a shootout with police.
All California college campuses are gun-free, meaning only police and security are allowed to carry weapons on campus.
Critics argue the gun-free rule was not enough to prevent the shooting and that if students were allowed to walk around campus “packing heat,” the tragedy might have been averted. Gun advocates say it is time for the legislation to be revisited.
It is also unclear how Zawahri was able to acquire a semi-automatic rifle, which has been illegal in the state since 1989.
Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor, told KNX1070 NewsRadio that the public has to be realistic about its expectations of gun laws.
“I don’t think there’s any gun control law we can adopt that’s going to stop a crazed madman from going and killing a lot of people,” he said. “One of the problems with the state-based firearms laws … is that people can easily go into Nevada and Arizona and buy firearms there and bring them back. They’re not supposed to be allowed to do that.”
As far as more people carrying guns in order to halt massing shootings, he admitted, “There’s certainly some logic to it ... if more people are armed, there’s likely to be someone who might stand up and defend themselves.” However, he warned, research shows that firearms do not decrease violence, but rather increase shootings and accidents.
A Houston nonprofit recently began giving away free guns to citizens for the purpose of defending their neighborhoods from crime. However, David Hemenway, professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health, said research has refuted any claim that gun ownership deters crime.
"Mostly what guns seem to do is make situations more lethal because most crime has nothing to do with guns," Hemenway said. "When there is a gun in the mix, there is much more likely to be somebody dying or somebody incredibly hurt."
“The state should butt out of the matter,” said president of the Future of Freedom Foundation Jacob Hornberger to The Daily Caller. “If one university says that guns are allowed, so be it. If another says no guns allowed, so be it.”
He added: “A would-be murderer would be crazy to go on a shooting spree in anything but a gun-free university. In a gun-free university, he would know that no one would be able to defend himself.”
Santa Monica College said it does not care what the state legislation is, it will maintain the ban on guns.
“There is no need to revisit it, we don’t allow guns,” a spokesperson for Santa Monica College said in an interview with The DC News Foundation. “It’s explicitly banned.”
Because the shooting began off-campus, the school’s president is maintaining that it was not a “school shooting.”