“It doesn't take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority to set brush fires in people's minds” – Samuel Adams

"It doesn't take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority to set brush fires in people's minds" – Samuel Adams

Our nation was visited by a horrific tragedy on Friday, Dec. 14. A disturbed individual murdered 20 school children and seven adults, including his own mother, in Newtown, Conn.

This heinous act, by a mentally unstable individual, immediately brought the liberal media and the proponents of greater gun control out in force. Virtually every news organization fixated on the weapons the individual used to perpetrate this crime and this fixation carried over into the political arena and in the emotional rants of Hollywood "stars" and through the postings of rather vocal, obviously disturbed individuals – many of whom call for violence against members and supporters of the NRA.

The focus of the anger appears not to be on the individual who committed this crime, but rather, on the inanimate objects used to perpetrate this act. Do we really believe that more laws, tighter regulation or the banning of these weapons would have changed the outcome here?

Connecticut already has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country – yet this did not stop this madman from perpetrating his crime. The questions remain, what facilitated this individual's act of savagery, what gave him the remotest idea that he could accomplish whatever horrid goal he had in his mind?

The one thing allowing this individual to perpetrate this crime and we have seen it time and again, are so-called "gun-free zones." Many of our lawmakers and the anti-gun lobby have convinced many in our nation that if we put up a sign and declare someplace a gun-free zone, then everything will be all right – that we're safe and our children are safe.

Actually, this could not be further from the truth. Gun-free zones simply provide a safe haven for the perpetrator, providing a hunting preserve for the innocents. They understand that within those gun-free zones, people are unable to do anything to protect themselves other than find a closet, lock a door or simply hope that the beast will pass them by. Had any of the brave school administration, or any of those teachers, been armed, I speculate the outcome would be different today.

Dr. John R. Lott, economist and gun-rights advocate, has extensively studied mass shootings and reports that, with just one exception, the attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011, every public shooting since 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns. The massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., all took place in gun-free zones. In fact, upon investigation, the killer in Aurora visited three other theaters in the town before settling on the one theater that banned concealed carry. Why? Because even in his disturbed mental state, he understood one thing: that he had almost free reign to carry out his terroristic, murderous act with the reasonable expectation of no immediate opposition.

On the other hand, examples of where gun owners either prevented murders from being perpetrated or reduced the number of people killed before the arrival of authorities clearly show the ability of law abiding citizens to defend themselves and others.

To those that say trained teachers or administrators should not have weapons in a school, would you rather the principal or the counselor at Sandy Hook Elementary had been armed or not? Evidence points to the fact that armed citizens can and do prevent horrible murderous acts. Cases in point, in October 1997 in Pearl, Miss., 16-year-old Luke Woodham bludgeoned and stabbed his mother to death in their home. After which, Woodham traveled to Pearl High School and with a rifle stolen from his mother's home, shot and killed two students and injured seven others. The school's assistant principal, Joel Myrick, retrieved his .45 caliber pistol from his car (parked over 1,000 yards away, as mandated in the law at that time) and forced Woodham to surrender, holding him until authorities arrived.

In 2007, in Colorado Springs, a gunman entered New Life Church and shot and killed two girls. Jeanne Assam, a former police officer and concealed carry permit holder, shot and wounded the killer before he could kill anyone else, after which he took his own life. This past August, in Jacksonville, Fla., a 57-year-old grandfather found himself in the midst of a robbery of the Dollar General Store where he was shopping. The grandfather ended the robbery by firing his concealed carry weapon – killing one of the robbers. Time and again, we see the best deterrent to a crime being committed is an effective defense. Against an armed criminal, the best defense is with a weapon. Disarming the innocent will not protect the innocent.

Dr. Lott further looks at the idea of banning "assault" type weapons. In his work, The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control is Wrong, Mr. Lott presents evidence that in the decade in which the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was in effect, there was absolutely no reduction in the number of murders nationwide committed with "assault" type weapons. In this same work, Dr. Lott's research results actually found an increase in the average murder rate after a state enacts a ban on assault weapons.

The horrific murders on Dec. 14, perpetrated by a mentally unstable individual, show us that what we really need to examine is our diagnosis of and treatment of the mentally ill, we need to address the needless violence in our inner cities, games and music.

We need to address the pervasive view that the sanctity or value of life is seemingly less valuable than that of material items. We must deal with the root causes of the problem and not default to picking the "low hanging fruit" saying guns are to blame.