By: José Niño

While the American public recovers from the shock of the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, gun controllers are busy politicizing the tragedy by rolling out every gun control scheme they can conjure up.

From bump stock bans to red-flag laws, gun control advocates are going all out to ram gun control down law-abiding gun owners’ throats.

They believe – or profess to believe, anyway – these laws are the missing ingredient in securing our schools and public spaces from potential shooters.

Despite the constant calls for gun control and frequent compromises the political establishment has made – such as the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990 – criminals continue to choose gun-free zones as targets for their killing sprees.

In fact, the Crime Prevention Research Center compiled evidence revealing that 98 percent of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones since 1950.

How many more school shootings will it take for politicians to recognize that gun-free zones are a deadly policy?

It’s easy to see why gun-free zones are such prime targets for deranged shooters.

When people are left defenseless, criminals can – and do – prey on them at will. Criminals opt for the path of least resistance, which gun-free zones provide, since all of their potential victim are disarmed.

It also doesn’t help that law enforcement can’t always be counted on to respond immediately to these threats. According to research from the Department of Homeland Security, the “average duration of Active Shooter incidents in Institutions of Higher Education within the United States is 12.5 minutes. In contrast, the average response time of campus and local law enforcement to these incidents is 18 minutes.”

With all due respect to the law enforcement who put their lives on the line to keep our neighborhoods safe, they simply can’t be the sole entity responding to these shootings.

When push comes to shove, armed, law-abiding citizens are the best first responders.

There’s nothing magical about educational venues that requires us to have them completely disarmed.

Like churches, restaurants, and theatres, schools need some form of security, and despite what the anti-gun faction may want us to believe, a “Gun-Free Zone” sign will not deter criminals from committing atrocities.

The good news is, however, that political leaders like Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie have stood up to the gun control lobby and have worked tirelessly to introduce legislation like the Safe Students Act in Congress, which would abolish gun-free zones.

Unfortunately, not all of Massie’s colleagues are as sensible as he is. Many of them still believe in kicking the can down the road or offering up half-measures in response to these tragedies. It’s unacceptable behavior for so-called “pro-gun” Republicans, and it’s time for the political establishment to wake up and come to acknowledge the brutal reality of gun-free zones.

While the rest of the nation experiences widespread declines in crime rates thanks to increased gun ownership and relaxed rules for carrying a firearm, one must wonder why our very own schools have not reaped those same benefits. But informed gun owners know why. And the first step in securing our schools is to abolish gun-free zones.

Our loved ones deserve better.

José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist based in Fort Collins, Colorado.