Given the unfortunate propensity in this country for psychos to walk into public places and start killing people, most recently at Northern Illinois University, the debate over whether or not guns should be allowed on college campuses has become a major issue. Only a couple of universities, including the University of Utah, where I attend, allow concealed carry permit holders to carry their guns on campus. Anti-gun groups claim that allowing concealed carry on campus would result in even more shootings; pro-gun groups say that the only way that students will be able to defend themselves from a psychotic gunman is to be on equal ground with the shooter. My thoughts after the jump.
About a year and a half ago, pro-gun groups and Utah lawmakers challenged the University of Utah’s policies barring concealed carry permit holders from carrying their weapons on campus. It went to the Utah Supreme Court and there it was decided that the university’s policy violated the Utah Constitution.
When the decision was handed down, there was much hand-wringing about how classroom disagreements would turn into shootouts, drunk fratboys would turn Greek Row into a firing range every Saturday night, and roommates would murder each other whenever one of them stayed up too late playing video games. Did any of this happen? Of course not. The nationwide rate of revocation for concealed carry permits is less than 1%, and most of the revocations are for nonviolent misdemeanors. People who have concealed carry permits are not the kind of people who are going to randomly murder their fellow students. Likewise, the kind of people who are going to randomly murder their fellow students are not going to bother getting a permit, and they sure as hell won’t be deterred by a little sign that says “This is a gun free zone.”
We should have learned this by now. Every major mass shooting in the last decade has taken place in a “gun free zone.” NIU, Virginia Tech, the Crossroads Mall in Omaha, Trolley Square in Utah. Every single one barred permit holders from carrying their guns. When Virginia Tech banned concealed carry on their campus, the school’s president said that it would make students, faculty, and visitors “feel safe.” Unfortunately, there is a difference between feeling safe, and actually being safe. Yet despite the tragedies that occur when the right of self-defense is prohibited, people still think that the solution is to keep law-abiding citizens from carrying guns, thus making them easy, defenseless targets for the psychos and murderers who shoot up public places.
To be clear, I’m not saying that allowing concealed carry on campus will necessarily put an end to school shootings. There are far too many variables for that. But wouldn’t it be better to at least give college students a fighting chance, instead of hoping that the cops show up before too many people die?