Over the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands of students returned to college life at schools across the United States. If their experience is anything like mine – and I assume it is – these students were greeted with an email from the campus police reminding them not to roam the grounds after-hours, and that if they must, to be sure to walk “with a sense of purpose and determination.” These curt messages are meant to help reduce crimes on campus, and yet many students will still receive reports of armed robberies either on campus or within spitting distance of it.
Despite the firm belief of academics, walking with purpose will never be enough to prevent crime when students are left defenseless by their chancellors. The notion that more guns on campus could reduce crime is revolting to many of the most entrenched academic representatives. Most administrators and even many of the campus police chiefs ridicule the proposal without even allowing proper analysis, even though we know firearms are not the problem. If guns can never be anything more than an instrument for murder, and their presence on campus always detracts from the community, then why do we allow the police to carry them within our borders? Surely these officers can issue parking tickets and alcohol citations just as effectively without an instrument of deadly force strapped to their hip. And if some crisis were to strike within our grounds, they should be comforted by the knowledge that the perpetrator must be unarmed because having a gun on a college campus would be breaking the law.
Clearly, few among us honestly believe we should strip our officers of their sidearms. Most people understand that to stop a man with a gun, you need a man with a gun; but why should we be forced to rely on a reactionary force? As was affirmed in the VA Tech massacre, the only people with the power to stop such a tragedy are those present at the scene when the shooting starts. On a college campus, most of these people will be students, and it is highly unlikely any of them will be on-duty police officers. There is a reason Cho chose to begin shooting in classrooms instead of the campus police station. Had Cho met resistance of equal caliber, he would not have been able to achieve such horrendous results. This was certainly the case in August of 1966, when students learned of a fortified sniper on the bell tower observation deck and retrieved personal hunting rifles from dormitories to provide cover fire for the Austin Police Department. Ramiro Martinez, one of the officers who confronted Whitman, later stated in his book that the civilian shooters should be credited because they made it difficult for Whitman to take careful aim without being hit.
While many will be quick to point out that VA Tech style massacres are extremely uncommon, and that the legalization of concealed carry on campus is an over-reaction, their analysis neglects any other benefits. Legal, concealed weapons have the potential to protect individuals from all kinds of violent crime, whether common or uncommon. In fact, one of the hallmarks of the pistol’s invention was its ability to level the playing field in a duel. While I am not condoning the reinstatement of duels, handguns still have the power to level the playing field between an armed assailant and a previously unarmed victim. Modern academia has forgotten this valuable lesson and somehow arrived at the absurd conclusion that putting all of the firepower in the hands of criminals evens the odds and prevents crime.
While legalizing concealed carry is not a panacea, it will restore balance to the equation. You may be asking, “how do we determine who is on the “good” side?” Fortunately, our society already has a system in place that allows Americans in most states to apply for a concealed weapons permit or concealed handgun license. Once they have filled the requirements of the state, permit holders are allowed to legally carry a concealed weapon throughout their daily routine, and yet college administrators and politicians have the audacity to claim that these same individuals that carry weapons with them every day without incident will suddenly “snap” just because they have crossed an invisible boundary onto college property. What is so special about this arbitrary boundary?
If crossing this arbitrary boundary has the power to turn a responsible, rational person into a psychopath, then perhaps we need to re-evaluate the benefits of college education. This is a foolish suggestion, we can all appreciate the benefits of a quality education, but the assertion that concealed weapons in the hands of responsible students would necessarily detract from the college experience or scholarly debate. As evidence of the boundary’s impotence, I will again reference Campus Police. These officers have been patrolling the campus grounds for years without incident. Further evidence is provided by the eleven schools that have allowed concealed carry for a combined total of over 100 semesters without incident. In all realms save the emotive, it is clear concealed carry will not make our college campuses more dangerous.
Lawmakers and Administrators must stop living in their delusional world and confront reality. Criminals will never respect their “gun-free-zones.” Such policies will only ever disarm those who need not be disarmed, the same individuals who could save lives in a crisis.