Last night Larry Wilmore highlighted a story on his new show The Nightly Show about legislation that is pending that would allow college students to legally carry guns on campus. For more information take a look at this article from The New York Times.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this concept and more importantly, comprehending how anyone with a functioning cerebrum could entertain this idea with any seriousness. The proponents of these bills have defended their position by suggesting that allowing students (in particular female students) to carry guns on campus would keep them safer and reduce crimes like assault and rape. Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore was quoted during a telephone interview as saying:
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
Now, first of all, I have to wonder about an Assemblywoman that refers to college co-eds as “young, hot little girls”. If this comment had come from a man, I think people would have been doing a background check on him to see if he was a registered sex offender. Secondly, I’m confused about whether she’s suggesting that men who rape women would be deterred by a gun-toting teen or if she’s just saying that only pretty girls need to pack heat. I guess ugly is it’s own deterrent to violent sexual abuse.
The notion that the solution to ending violent crimes on campus is to bring in more guns is like telling someone on a diet that the quickest way to weight loss is to eat more Big Macs. Are these lawmakers actually trying to say that arming 18-22 year olds is going to make college safer? Aren’t these the same kids that jump off of balconies during Spring Break and do inverted beer bongs on Saturday nights? Have you ever seen or been to a frat party? Do you really think adding a loaded Glock into that mix is a wise idea?
Is there violence on campus? Sure. And there are also security and police officers that patrol most campuses regularly. No, they can’t be everywhere at once and yes, violent crimes still occur, but taking law enforcement out of the hands of the professionals and into the backpacks of our youth is NOT a step in the right direction. Didn’t we learn anything from Bernhard Goetz? Gun toting vigilantes do not make our streets and campuses safer. And if we are arming the “victims” so that they can protect themselves, are we not also arming the “perpetrators” that would use the guns to attack, assault and possibly kill someone?
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence stated in its 2014 edition of their publication: Regulating Guns in America: A Comprehensive Analysis of Gun Laws Nationwide
People carrying hidden, loaded handguns in public create unnecessary risks of intentional or accidental shootings. The presence of concealed guns increases the risk that everyday disagreements will escalate into shootouts, especially in places where disputes frequently occur – in bars, at sporting events, and in traffic. Permissive concealed carry laws violate the shared expectation that public places will be safe environments free from guns and gun violence.
As to the claims by the lawmakers supporting this legislation that arming those young hot little girls with guns will reduce rape and assault, the report states:
Claims that permissive CCW [Carrying a Concealed Weapon] laws lead to decreases in crime–by helping permit holders fight off criminals and deterring would-be attackers–are simply untrue. On the contrary, CCW permit holders threaten public safety, even when they may be trying to assist in a dangerous situation…No credible statistical evidence exists to show that permissive CCW laws reduce crime. In fact, the evidence suggests that permissive CCW laws may actually increase the frequency of some types of crime, like assault. This research confirms the common sense conclusion that more guns create more opportunities for injury and death, not fewer.
So if both common sense and scientific evidence suggests that arming college students is a bad idea, how could anyone in their right minds write and/or support legislation that would do just that? Is this a knee-jerk “feel good” movement? And where does this end? I mean, if we are going to arm college students, why stop there? Why not start pumping our high schools and middle schools with .357 Magnum’s and Tec 9’s? Nothing screams safety like a 2nd grader packing Saturday Night Special, right?
Well, here are the facts:
School-associated student homicide rates decreased significantly after the federal laws restricting guns in schools were adopted in the early 1990s, and fewer students are carrying guns… Gun-owning college students have a greater propensity for engaging in risky, sometimes violent, behavior than non-gun-owning students. A 2002 study from the Journal of American College Health found that students who owned guns were more likely than non-gun-owning students to binge drink and then engage in risky activities such as driving when under the influence of alcohol, vandalizing property, and having unprotected intercourse.
- Less than 2% of college students report being threatened with a gun while at school.
There were 11,920 total gun homicides in the U.S. in 2003, but only 10 total murders or non-negligent homicides on the nation’s college campuses.
Violent crime for college students age 18 to 24 declined significantly between 1995 and 2002. College students are less likely than non-students to be victims of crime though crime rates declined for both students and non-students alike, by 2002 only 41 of every 1,000 students were victims of violent crime, while 56 out of 1,000 non-students were victimized that year. Students living on college campuses are less likely to be victimized than when living off-campus–over 90% of victimization occur off-campus.
I haven’t even touched on the subject of suicide rates for college students. Giving kids a quick, easy way to end their lives is not in any way going to drive down the number of self-inflicted deaths.
Guns have one purpose only. Killing. Guns do not make us safer. They put us in danger. Forget what movies glamorize. You are not Clint Eastwood and neither are the “young, hot little girls” on campus. This is not the wild west. We don’t need the jock captain of the football team to walk around acting like Wyatt Earp, inflicting his own type of justice in class because he has the firepower to do it. It was always my thought that colleges and universities should be meccas of enlightenment and learning, not war zones.
So to the lawmakers that support these bills and those gun advocates that want firearms on every corner, please just stop for a minute, take a deep breath and calm down. We do not yet live in a world where the boogeyman is hiding inside every shadow and as long as we don’t transform our schools, malls, sports stadiums and theme parks into impromptu shooting galleries, I think we’ll be ok.