Which gym it is is not important. Many gyms and many businesses have the same sorts of prohibitions emblazoned on their doors. Like it does anything good. So I had this idea. If you really want to take away my ability to defend myself, you should take that responsibility on yourself. Not that I WANT there to be TSA style checkpoints to get into the gym, or that I think my gym would spend the money to make that happen. I think the risk of that is trivial. But I wanted to make the moral point here.

Dear Mr. ——–,

I love your gym. No, I mean it – I REALLY LOVE your gym. As a work-at-home mom of two small boys, it has meant everything to me. It has changed my life for the better in so many ways. When I first joined a little over a year ago, I would literally come in and put the boys in the kid zone for a couple hours so I could just grab a much-needed shower and zone out in the café over a cup of coffee. Your gym did wonders for my sanity.  But eventually I started actually working out. I signed up for the 90 Day Challenge and got a wonderful trainer, who I still see. I have lost 20 pounds this year! (that’s a LOT for me) I feel stronger and beautiful and healthy. I am a better mother and person because you have created a wonderful place for me to work on becoming those things, so thank you.

I would risk my life to keep coming to your gym.

And on some level, every time I see the “guns prohibited” notice on the building, that’s what I feel I am doing.

Perhaps you believe the gym is safer that way – that if you keep guns away, you’ll keep violence away. But it’s the opposite. You’re creating a perfect storm for a high body count shooting in one of your wonderful clubs. I know you don’t want that.

Here’s the thing. If you revoke my capacity for self-defense, I believe you bear some moral responsibility to take that defense upon yourself. But you don’t. You don’t have bag checks. You don’t have metal detectors. You don’t have armed guards stationed anywhere in the building, much less any of the entrances.

We know there are malicious people out there who have guns, whether they are supposed to or not. What is to stop them from walking into the building, guns blazing, and racking up a high body count while everyone in the gym is helpless to do anything except wait for the cops to arrive or the ammo to run out?

In fact, that’s all they could do at the LA Fitness club in Pittsburgh a few years ago while some crazed maniac went on a rampage. The only thing that stopped him was his own bullet when he committed suicide.

I think morally, you have two choices:

  1. Back up your gun prohibition with some enforcement. Check bags. Invest in metal detectors and 24 hour armed guards.

-OR-

  1. Stop advertising on the front window that the inhabitants are fish in a barrel. Take that prohibition off. Let the people with concealed carry permits carry guns without worrying about their membership status should they happen to get reported or found out somehow. Let people bring guns into the gym if they want to, just in case.

No one can prevent a shooting from starting. Suicidal maniacs don’t care about the sign on your gym. It’s more of an invitation than a deterrent, if you’re paying attention to how many mass shootings take place in “gun-free zones”. In fact, since 1950 all mass shootings with only 2 exceptions have taken place in “gun-free zones” or gun restricted areas. This is not a coincidence. Usually, the shooter wants notoriety and attention, and the best way to get that -in their twisted minds- is to kill as many people as they possibly can for maximum impact and press coverage.

The shooters know that the fastest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. They want to be the only one with a gun.

Your gyms are full of super heroes. I see them on the weight floor every week. I see them in the café, in the locker rooms. Let them defend us should the need arise. An armed person at the right place at the right time could save countless lives.

All you have to do is let them.

Respectfully,

Rachel Mills


The featured image was taken by Dr. Abdullah Naser (CC BY 2.0).