Gun Free Zones a.k.a. Self Defense Prohibited Zones

By Tom McHale

Gun Free Zones
Gun Free Zones
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-( If you’re reading this, odds are about the same as Evander Holyfield whoopin’ Mitt Romney in the ring that you already know Gun Free Zones suck.

Seriously, how much thought does it take to realize that people intent on doing harm could give a rat’s @ss about a flag in the ground claiming a Gun Free Zone?

This line of thought is a unicorn fart not worthy of inclusion in the latest Al Gore documentary about the impact of roasting marshmallows on climate change.

Heck, that idiot who shot up a movie premier in Aurora, Colorado bypassed numerous closer and more densely populated movie theaters to find one with a Gun Free Zone sign on the door.

More recently, and closer to home for me, another demon incarnate right here in South Carolina elected to bypass his primary target of the College of Charleston because there was a risk of confronting armed security. And those are just two examples. Of all the mass murders in the past 50 years, only two have taken place in areas where guns were not specifically prohibited. Gun Free Zones attract sick, evil sociopaths like politicians to a camera. The thought of having absolute control over defenseless victims is appealing to those disgusting and twisted souls.

Yes, Gun Free Zones suck because they are ineffective. Worse yet, they suck because they actually attract the worst sort of violent criminals. The scum cowards who perpetrate mass murders choose Gun Free Zones because they know they can rule that area of real estate for ten, twenty, or thirty minutes, completely unopposed.

I’m frustrated, depressed, and nauseated by the senseless deaths caused by this “feel good” concept of Gun Free Zones.

Self-Defense Prohibited Zone
Self-Defense Prohibited Zone

On a different front, the career marketing strategist side of me is also affronted by Gun Free Zones. Not the idea, but the description. Yes, we all know that “Gun Free Zones” equate to places where criminals have free reign. But we’re not the ones that need convincing in the broader public relations campaign about this issue.

If you step back and assume the thought process of average Joe and Jane TV Watcher, who do not spend the hours we do researching facts and considering the true ramifications of pleasant sound bites, you might think that “Gun Free Zones” sound pretty good. Heck, who can argue against the idea of the impossibility of violence? Of course, we know better, but only because we’ve plunged deeper into what that phrase truly means.

In our nanosecond attention span Tweet-A-Gram society, we need to think of how to best communicate our message in ways that low-interest Reality TV show watchers can easily digest. If we only get five words to communicate our message, “Gun Free Zones Are Bad!” is not our winning scenario because the first three words of that sentence sound pretty good on the surface.

Heck, if those three words represented reality, I would be all for hanging out at a place where I had a zero percent chance of getting shot.

Let’s consider just one example. To the broader non-analytical community of voters, making a school a Gun Free Zone sounds like a great idea. To the uninterested and unenlightened, guns are associated with violence. They don’t understand that guns are even more closely associated with the concept of self and family defense.

When we try to fight the concept of Gun Free Zones in schools, we’re having to use language that advocates for guns in schools. Let that sink in for a second. We’re telling a large population of low-information voters, who know little about the self-defense meaning behind our words, that we want guns in schools. Those are not winning public relations words.

Words are powerful, especially when our opponents choose to hear only a couple of them to represent our entire viewpoint. Do we really want guns in schools? Well, sort of, but that’s not the most accurate description of our intent.

  • Our intent is to prohibit the prohibiting of good guys having guns in schools to protect against bad guys with guns.
  • Our intent is to stop the insane practice of disarming good guys beyond some arbitrary and invisible line in the street.
  • Our intent is to stop the practice of stripping the fundamental right to protect yourself and others from harm.
  • Our intent is to stop making self-defense illegal in places like schools and malls.

Let that sink in too. Gun Free Zones aren’t really about guns. They are about a stripping of self-defense rights in arbitrarily defined areas.

Criminal Safe Zone
Gun Free Killing Zones

Why are we focusing on inaccurate words to communicate our point? We’re falling into the trap of arguing against our own logic. When evil dude “A” shoots innocent guy “B”, we’re the first ones to say not to blame the gun. A gun is only a tool used in the deliberate action by an individual. However, when we argue the right to protect ourselves and loved ones in public places, we argue on behalf of the object when we use terms like “Gun Free Zones.” We’re arguing for the legality of an object, not a change in behavior.

To illustrate this concept, think about different phrases that we might use instead of Gun Free Zones.

  • Murderers Welcome Zones
  • Criminals Come On In Zones
  • Law Abiding Citizens Loss of Rights Zones
  • Folks Can’t Fight Back In Here Zones
  • Protecting Yourself is Illegal Here Zones
  • Self-Defense Prevention Zones

From this day forward, I’m going to use better language to communicate this concept to the uninitiated. I’m going to use the phrase Self-Defense Prohibited Zones instead of Gun Free Zones. Self-Defense Prohibited Zone is clear and hits directly at the meaning we want. Who in their right mind would advocate for the prohibition of self-defense in any place, especially a school?

Think about the mental picture the phrase Self-Defense Prohibited paints.

The term “self-defense” already communicates that there is an aggressor in the scene, and an innocent is in the position of defending themselves.

The word “prohibited” brings a very strong image. “Prohibited” often carries the force of law. It’s intense and implies that a powerful authority actively prevents an action. It doesn’t imply meanings like “discouraged” or “requested.” It’s rigid and inflexible.

Combining “self-defense” and “prohibited” immediately presents a very disturbing and uncomfortable picture. It communicates a direct assault on innocence.

But what about guns?

Therein lies the beauty of using better language. The conversation is no longer about guns; it’s about a fundamental right to self-defense. It’s about the inarguable concept of protecting children. In our school example, the conversation is now about how stupid it is to strip away someone’s ability to protect children.

When we clarify that no place can be a Self-Defense Prohibited Zone, it’s inherently obvious that you can’t strip a lawful gun owners right to carry. It’s no longer about the tool or object, but about the right to self-protection. Once it’s been established that you have the right to self-protection, the debate about the tools is largely irrelevant. It’s about protecting kids, not about bringing guns into schools. When we advocate for police presence in schools, no one worries about the fact they have guns, right?

The pen is mightier than the sword as words influence the masses. Now, more than ever, in our low-information and high-distraction society, it’s more important than ever to choose our words very, very carefully.

What say you? Could you imagine someone making an effective argument against banning Self-Defense Prohibited Zones?


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Moved to Arizona a year ago. One of our reasons was to live in a place that honored our 2nd amendment right to bear arms. Was alarmed when we saw so many gun free zone signs around. Any time we go to a place with one of those stupid signs we go in and ask if they have a detection machine. No one yet has had one. So we loudly educate all wthin earshot how this establishment takes away good citizen’s right of self-defense while providing a place for criminals to inflict injuries and harm to defenseless people. Just doing… Read more »

Garry - Ohio

I would go further and press our state legislators to require those who establish “defense free zones” to screen all customers who enter their establishments for weapons. This would include Metal detectors, wands, or pat downs. In addition the laws should state that the proprietors are libel for assuring the safety on their property and parking areas. That would make the business legally financially responsible for damages resulting from their depriving anyone of their personal defense rights. Can you imagine Costco or Papa John’s having to have every customer open their bags and purses for inspection and then walk through… Read more »


I agree!

Clark Kent

Sorry to burst your bubble, but no one person or entity (including the government) can ‘prevent’ crime. That is like claiming something can ‘prevent’ the weather.

Ken R

Add me to NOT SHOP AT SEARS because Sears has a Firearm Free Zone sticker yet provides ZERO armed security for shoppers. And Sears wonders why stock analysts say they will be out of business by 2020? I’ve asked Sears Store management and mall management why they prohibit CCW holders from legally carrying guns on property and they say it is for safety. When asked what does the sign do to stop law breakers, One tool actually told me, they’d have lawbreakers be arrested. I asked what would he do if a lawless active shooter starred firing his weapon and… Read more »


Except the VA and the bank, I don’t go into a store that excludes concealed carry (guns). I have not entered a Target Store for years and do not plan to. My money will be spent at another store that is not run by Communists.


Fortunately, here in Florida, a ‘gun-free zone’ sign means virtually nothing. There are places you cannot carry by law, but those are few. Theaters will usually have a sign posted, one in Sarasota (AMC 12) has a bad photocopy in a frame that is not always visible because it sits on the counter and gets moved around. We still go (IMAX). Our Toys-r-Us has a huge sign at the entrance banning all sorts of defensive items. Target is not posted. The only thing these signs mean is don’t expose your firearm. If seen, all they can do is ask you… Read more »


And what’s the difference between that and Drug Free Zones and Alcohol Free Zones. Noting, Its a Concept and Nothing More. “I Am, Therefore I Will”.


First of all everyone needs to understand that we all know armed citizens deter crime. The govt uses crime as an excuse to enact gun control. They have zero interest in preventing crime. In fact they thrive on it as it fuels their drive to disarm the public. Gun control is really nothing more than the empowering of government and it’s officials through the disarming of the people. Once disarmed you become a subject of the state vs a sovereign citizen. Another thing. the demonization of the child who bites his pop tart into a pistol shape is nothing more… Read more »


Good point. I’d go with “Self-Defense Prohibited” zones because the word “Free” has good (and in this case, inaccurate)connotations, while “Prohibited” has more accurate and negative, connotations. I don’t much care whether a place provides me with their own security forces or not. I want the ability o defend MYSELF, and that is a natural right deriving from Natural Law (ie, a right that comes form one’s creator, or by the mere fact that one is alive), which cannot be given up. It implies the right to defend myself with the most effective means possible, and that means, today, is… Read more »


“SELF-defense Free Zone” isn’t quite right; and (of course) a gun-free zone isn’t always quite right. Suppose a school with a “School Resource Officer” who is armed. That is a SELF-defense Free Zone because the kids can’t defend themselves. However, they wouldn’t be allowed to bear arms anyway. These students ARE defended to some degree; by one or two good-guys-with-a-gun. Should be more; much of the faculty and other staff should be armed. Yet, clearly, this isn’t a gun-free zone because there are guns. There is a defense. Contrast this with a school that has neither SROs nor any armed… Read more »


Please don’t confuse me with the truth or real reality. I don’t like ________(fill in the blank). While agreeing that ignorant/stupid/unthinking people are in favor of gun free zones, a) you don’t have to go there; you can b) ignore the “law” against self-preservation. When you show up at court with your concealed weapon and they won’t let you in with it, what happens next? You loose. Try not voting for democrats if you are interested in self-defense, if you value the lives of children, old people and everyone in between instead of welfare, if you are against socialism and… Read more »


In Utah we are pretty good about concealed carry except for the Mormon Church which has security for leaders but peons expected to leave guns home–such Hypocrites

legal eagle

Canada is one large gun free zone, but that is the way the police and politicians want it. The reason ? Because it creates a HUGE victim pool, and the more victims there are the more of a pitching angle the police have to lobby for bigger budgets to hire more police. Never mind they can’t do anything about violent crime in a one on one scenario, and that they can only come along and clean up afterwards and look good for the cameras promising to get to the bottom of the crime so it doesn’t happen again, blah blah.… Read more »


A Canadian is a politically groomed victim, living in a culture of defenselessness. Don’t forget to thank a Liberal for this!