Firearms banned at events with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has argued 'gun-free' zones are less safe

DeSantis speaking at podium next to Trump
Forme US President Donald Trump looks on as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during the Florida Homecoming rally at the BB&T Center in 2019.Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hosting rallies for fellow Republicans across the country.

  • The "Unite & Win" rallies will be held in Arizona, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

  • Anyone carrying a firearm is prohibited from attending, according to organizer Turning Point Action.

When a man, identified by law enforcement as a white supremacist, opened fire on Black patrons at a grocery store in upstate New York, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, balked at calls for stricter controls on firearms, arguing that such restrictions actually contributed to mass casualty events.

Mass shooters are "really, really bad people," DeSantis said at a June news conference, the Florida Phoenix reported. But, he continued, they are "not dumb."

"The Buffalo guy said he wanted to go where he knew there wouldn't be blowback from people being armed, and so he tried to find a gun-free zone," DeSantis said.

But at rallies set to take place this month in Arizona, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, featuring Gov. DeSantis as the star speaker, firearms will be strictly prohibited — and not by liberals.

Dubbed "Unite & Win" rallies, the events are being put on by Turning Point Action — the political advocacy arm of Turning Point USA, led by right-wing influencer Charlie Kirk — and will feature DeSantis alongside local Republicans hoping to win elections in November, including Pennsylvania's Doug Mastriano, Arizona's Kari Lake and Blake Masters, and Ohio's J.D. Vance.

Attendees should be prepared for "airport-like screening," according to listings for the events posted by Turning Point Action on EventBrite, where would-be guests are encouraged to request tickets. Security will be turning away the visibly intoxicated, according to the listing, as well as also for the following prohibited items: "ammunition, knives, projectiles, pepper spray, expandable batons, [and] firearms."

The listing notes that there is to be "NO CCW," or concealed weapons, "in Event Zone."

Turning Point USA meme shows a man and a woman on college campus. "I feel safer in 'gun-free' zones because criminals aren't allowed to use guns in them. That's the way it works, right?" one says.
Turning Point Action is hosting gun-free rallies with Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite having previously criticized "gun-free zones."Screenshot/Facebook

In the recent past, Turning Point USA and its founder have publicly insisted such a policy harms public safety. On its Facebook page, the group mocked the supposed naivete of those who believe "gun-free" zones deter gun violence.

"'Gun-Free Zones' Only Help Criminals!" the group said.

On Twitter, Kirk falsely claimed that limits on the carrying of guns in public places make those places more dangerous. "97.8% of public mass shootings since 1950 have occurred in gun-free zones," he wrote.

Neither Turning Point USA nor Turning Point Action immediately responded to a request for comment.

Research indicates "gun-free" policies do not actually correspond to greater security risks. A review of mass shootings between 1966 and 2016 found that only 12% occurred "in a truly gun-free zone" — that is, one without armed security — and that only 5% took place in areas where civilians were prohibited from carrying a firearm, per researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Guns have also been prohibited at events attended by former President Donald Trump. In May, the Secret Service insisted that people attending an NRA conference in Houston leave their guns at home if they wished to hear Trump's remarks.

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