After this week’s deadly shooting at a fitness center in Pittsburgh, anti-gun activists are seizing the opportunity to call for restrictions on carrying hidden or loaded guns in public.
Freedom States Alliance, an organization working to reduce gun violence in America, points that the 48-year-old perpetrator had no criminal record and had a concealed weapons permit.
It adds that so far in 2009 there have been three confirmed mass shootings committed by concealed carry permit holders, and these incidents disprove the gun lobby’s claims that legal gun owners do not commit violent crimes.
"Concealed handgun permits were promoted by the gun lobby as a mechanism to arm ‘law-abiding’ citizens who, in theory, would prevent mass shootings," says Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
"Instead, the hard facts demonstrate that concealed handgun permit holders don’t prevent mass shootings, they perpetrate them," she adds.
VPC research suggests the Pittsburgh gunman was at least the sixth person licensed to carry a concealed weapon to commit a mass shooting since May 2007. Those incidents claimed 26 lives and injured 16 people.
Police have confirmed three women were killed and nine others wounded when the gunman opened fire at the gym on Tuesday night. He later killed himself.
Meanwhile, supporters of gun rights have been pushing for legislation to allow concealed and loaded weapons to be carried on college campuses and in government buildings.