Gun Free Zones, How Do You Handle Them?

Gun-free zones” are a part of life for just about everyone that conceals carries a firearm. Sure, some lucky few get a get out of jail free card by carrying a badge. Although the effort to earn that card is monumental.

Entering school property, flying on commercial aircraft, traveling overseas, and entering establishments that serve alcohol are just some of the cases where you have to deal with gun-free zones.

What if you don’t let the desire to have a gun prevent you from doing business in the many national chains and local stores that exercise their private property rights to restrict your ability to carry a gun.

Before we go any further, I believe in private property rights just as much as I believe in the right to keep and bear arms. I also believe in obeying the law.

Yes, I know that the constitution says “thou shall not infringe”. However, your right to keep and bear arms is infringed. There are laws on the books that I may not agree with, but that we need to fight politically to get changed, not arbitrarily ignore because we wish they weren’t so. Let’s be clear about my stance on carrying a gun where you know you are forbidden by law: Don’t do it.

Supporting state groups like GOAL (MA), NJ2AS (NJ), and national ones like the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation is a good way to contribute to pushing back the infringements we suffer under. Getting involved in local politics yourself and, of course, voting are good ideas as well.


Back to the topic at hand. Gun-free zones are real and most of us have to deal with them from time to time. That doesn’t have to mean you’re incapable of defending yourself.

In one case, a business was posted as a gun-free zone. Patrons responded to a violent armed threat with improvised defensive tools (including a chair) and won, with no serious injuries to any of the good guys.  There are many other stories of armed offenders conducting or attempting mass killings and acts of personal violence being stopped by people who weren’t able to (or simply didn’t choose to) have a gun on them at the time. 


Here are some things in mind about gun-free zones.

The first step is always to avoid a problem if you can. You can do this using situational awareness. Keep your head up; not buried in a smartphone. Wearing earbuds can mask important sounds. 

If violence erupts, regardless of whether you have a gun or not, escape.  If you can escape the bad guy, do so.

If you can’t get away, but you can hide or barricade yourself to make it harder for the threat to get to you.

Ultimately, however, you may have to respond… whether you have a gun or not.


Just because you don’t have a gun doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself.

It is naïve and, honestly, weak to think that just because you don’t have a gun, you can’t fight back against an attacker. You shouldn’t think that simply having a gun is what makes you safe. Thinking the gun is what makes you magically safe is the same mentality that anti-gunners use to convince people that the presence of a gun magically puts you in danger. It’s just not true.

Without the mindset, training, and opportunity to use it effectively, the gun is just an inanimate mechanical device. You are the one who takes action and applies the skill to use a gun. You can take the same type of action and apply different skills to defend yourself without one.


There isn’t a single “Gun Free Zone” that you couldn’t carry some type of defensive tool into.

Defining “defensive tool” is important. The best way to articulate it is “Anything you carry with you for the primary or secondary purpose of causing damage to someone who is trying to hurt you or someone you care about.”

Using that definition:

  •  a knife
  • chemical spray
  • electrical device
  • sharp key fob
  • keys themselves
  • sturdy metal pen
  • hooked wooden cane
  • coin purse
  • roll of quarters
  • your loaded backpack
  • just about anything else

could be considered a defensive tool.

Thinking ahead of time about what you can carry and how you can use it to increase the amount of damage you could do to a bad guy are the first steps. Formal training in the use of your chosen tool, or improvised tools in general, and practicing the employment of the tool(s) are vital, just as they are with a firearm.


You don’t have to be a martial artist, or even all that physically fit, to defend yourself.

The will to fight is the most important ingredient. Knowing you can affect the bad guy is important to empower you.

Think about natural tools and natural targets.


  • hands
  • fingers
  • elbows
  • knees
  • feet

Targets on the bad guy:

  • eyes
  • throat
  • ribs
  • groin
  • skull

Once you are in contact with the bad guy, simply grabbing their head, throat, arms or legs can significantly affect their ability to hurt you.

Using your body weight and pushing, smashing, or crushing them against a wall, table, the ground or a vehicle are all better than cowering on the ground hoping they suddenly decide to stop being violent.


In regards to attempted spree killings in gun-free zones, this point cannot be over-stressed.

Even if we are talking about a classroom full of middle schoolers, no individual attacker is going to be able to maintain their assault if they are dog-piled by several human beings.

If the defensive strategy is no more sophisticated than each person grabbing a limb and holding the attacker down, this will effectively stop an attack. I’d put my money on any group of five people within arms’ reach of an armed attacker being able to stop him. Motivating others to take action, preparing those you spend time with, or even simply inspiring others to act at the moment by leading the response is all-important to capitalizing on the group defense opportunity.



Improvised tools come in all shapes and sizes :

  • furniture
  • utensils
  • fire extinguishers
  • glassware
  • bottles
  • writing tools
  • janitorial supplies
  • blankets
  • hot or caustic fluids

All of these be found in public spaces where you are sometimes prevented from carrying a firearm.  Thinking about these things ahead of time and taking a quick look around when you settle into a new area are ways you prepare to use them. Of course, you can also practice defending yourself with these types of items, especially if you happen to frequent or work in the same gun-free zone all the time. In the latter case, you can also stage-specific innocuous or common items within easy reach to be used in an emergency.


Keep these tips in mind when you are thinking about how you are going to restrict your life based on the ability to carry a gun.

If you found this blog informative, Personal Defense Network was the inspiration. Check them out. They contain a wealth of information. Well worth the price.

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