Monday, October 12, 2015

Weapons on Campus: How Successful are Weapons Bans in Protecting Students?

“Warning: No Weapons Allowed”

“Notice: Unarmed Fish in Barrel Here”

While the first is what the signs actually say, the latter is what message it sends to criminals.

Let’s try to be sensible about this. On its very face value, weapon control would seem to make sense. No weapons, no way to easily harm people, right? Yeah, except that opponents of gun rights beg the question of just how we arrive at no weapons.

Just look at the other stuff we’ve outlawed. There certainly wasn’t any bootlegging during prohibition. There is no heroin in Northern Kentucky. There can’t be. We’ve outlawed it.

In late August, there was a student at NKU taken into custody for having an inoperable gun on her person. (At first, my blood was boiling. I assumed she was just carrying it for protection. Based on the story the university told us, it was a perfectly justifiable reaction. The university, of course, lied to us. There was more to the story. Turns out she threatened someone and pointed the gun at him or her. I guess the best way to keep us safe is to keep us ignorant. But I digress.) It was a shocking occurrence because there is obviously a weapons ban on campus. I cannot understand how there was actually a weapon on campus. She must not have seen the signs!

Despite the sarcasm, the problem is real. This tactic is echoed in schools across the nation. We’re taught to feel safe because there is a weapons ban, when, clearly, they are not obeyed.

Last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon did not happen in a strict gun-free zone – meaning that Oregon is one of only seven states that allows guns on postsecondary campuses – but the college is a posted gun-free zone. I would imagine, for most law-abiding students, that policy is enough.

Our mistake is in thinking that criminals follow laws. Simple, but crucial. Look no further than Chicago to see the terrible effect gun control has in America, where gun violence rates swelled to exorbitant numbers in the very city our president calls home. These are details he apparently forgot about before again politicizing a tragedy in a greedy attempt to disarm honest people.

But I want to focus on college campuses. Most that have housing have a police department. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is that on the vast majority of campuses they are the only ones with weapons. Police can’t be everywhere at all times. There will be some sort of reactionary lag between a crime and their arrival. A lag that can be devastating.

In the case of NKU, the police responded in about a minute as they happened to be in the vicinity. But let’s set up a hypothetical situation. Let’s say the woman was an actual threat. She planned it out like maniacal school shooters do. And let’s say the police can match their quick response, which is generous since the average police response time is ten minutes.

How many people could someone shoot in a minute?

Most shootings like this only take a few minutes. Often it is all over before the police get there. In a busy library in the afternoon, there could easily be fifty people in close vicinity. FBI studies have shown that a novice can fire three rounds in less than a second from a semiautomatic handgun. Not a rifle. Just a handgun. The Fort Hood shooter fired 100 rounds in seven minutes.

Body counts can pile up pretty quickly.

Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killed 27 in five minutes before killing himself. Police arrived two minutes after it was over.

This is why citizens as a whole should be armed. Relying on the police is a gamble to take. There is a reason for police, and their presence keeps us safe. But any half-brained criminal will not act with police around. They will make sure they aren’t. How long will it take them to arrive? Two minutes? Five? Eight?

I will reiterate: the average mass shooting only lasts a few minutes. The average number of people killed when the shooter is stopped by police is 14.29. The average number killed when the shooter is stopped by a civilian is 2.33.1 Do we want to take these risks?

A student would be expelled for carrying a firearm, when that same student could save an average of 12 lives if push came to shove.

“Yeah, but what are the chances of him being in the right place?” Exactly. That’s why we need a lot of people packing. If you can pass an accuracy test and a background check, you should be able to carry a weapon. It is a violation of someone’s rights to tell them they cannot carry a gun when they have a concealed carry license.

What part of “shall not be infringed” are we missing?

“Good heavens, the students want to defend themselves! We must put a stop to it!”

Here’s the deal: criminals don’t follow laws. Profound, I know, but the very nature of criminals is that they don’t follow laws. Hence the name.

So when we make laws preventing people from carrying weapons, the law-abiding citizens – that wouldn’t use them to commit a crime – abide by the laws and don’t carry weapons, while the people that break laws break the gun law to use the gun to break another law. Why would a person who wants to commit a rape or murder or massacre be worried about an additional gun charge?

All we do with weapon bans is take weapons out of the hands of responsible people that would only use them against a person in defense, and make it much easier for a person with evil intent to commit their crime.

Hopefully you get it, because I’m sick of beating a dead horse.

How much more powerful would women on college campuses be if they could carry a firearm when walking alone instead of mace?

How much more secure would a campus be when we knew that every classroom had students that are ready to fire back at a shooter?

If responsible students and staff were encouraged to carry weapons, how much would the chances drop of being victimized by a suicidal attention-seeker? Who will target a place where it is not known who or how many are carrying guns? There are plenty of less risky targets.

Students want to be able to have a weapon for practical reasons as well. I'd love to have a machete for hiking through the woods or a shotgun to hunt.

I can’t even have any weapons in my dorm room to use off-campus. Still against policies. Still will get me at least suspended.

Something is wrong when students can get alcohol in a basketball arena or free condoms from the health center but can’t have a gun on their person. We’ve seen some pretty big shootings over the past years. We can teach students to throw books, barricade doors and hide in corners all we want, but when are we going to fight lethal force with lethal force?

Until then, we’ll keep wondering why these things happen, blaming it on a violent society or past trauma. The motivations have varied for committing these massacres. This last one was targeted at Christians, which is a whole other story. While there’s certainly not one cause, there is one good solution: make the risk to the criminal high enough to prevent them from doing it. If there’s a good chance of a shooter being hurt or killed without accomplishing their end goal, they may rethink. And if they’re looking to go out in a mass shooting, they may look elsewhere or have their plans delayed long enough to come to their senses.

If a shooter walked into the library, I’d rather have a few people to fire back. Not try to run. Not throw books. Kill the shooter before he can do any harm.

Pearl High School. Appalachian School of Law. New Life Church. Golden Market. New York Mills AT&T Store. Clackamas Town Center.

You probably haven’t heard of these shootings. That’s because the death tolls were significantly lower than other shootings. The killers were stopped by citizens with guns.

Some laws should be broken, such as when they contradict the Constitution. Some shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Students are the ones harmed by the opprobrious policies that disenfranchise us and aid potential shooters.

It is criminally negligent to tell us we can’t effectively protect ourselves. Schools should be ashamed. Administrators and lawmakers should answer for every life taken as a result of their doltish restrictions.

Tell me it doesn’t make sense.

Tell me you’ll do something about it.

My friend Aaron Hatfield, a Student Government Association senator at NKU, is currently pushing for allowing concealed carry on NKU’s campus. I’m thankful someone has stepped up to do so. Contact me below for more information on how to get involved.

1 - The numbers are based on the averages from 100 different shootings. The author details how he arrived at them.

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