Stereotypes and Realities of Guns on Campus- What were you thinking?

By Rob Morse

Slow Facts
Slow Facts

Louisiana- (  Should we allow guns on campus?  

My initial reaction to the question is the same as yours.  Are students responsible enough to defend themselves?  Why would we want a gun on campus?  On second thought, we call a guy with a gun every time there is a problem, on campus or off.  We often forget that fact.  That highlights the real issue here.  The real problem is with our inaccurate imagination.  We have an idealized view of campus life, and a stereotypical view of students.  Let’s add a dose of reality before we answer.  We don’t have to ignore our experience as we simplify our ideas.  A school campus is a dangerous place today.  Some people on campus are precisely the sort of people we want to go armed, for both their safety and for the safety of others.  Education is supposed to help us differentiate between things that seem roughly similar, but are different in important ways.  Lets educate ourselves on this issue.

Schools have changed over time. Campuses and the cities they serve have moved closer together.  Students can leave campus and unwanted visitors can enter the campus with equal ease.  The campus today is also a business served by vendors of every kind.  Deliveries arrive at all hours of the day and night.  So, how does disarming the food delivery driver keep me safer?  We never bother to ask.

We never get past the slogans, such as, “Kids shouldn’t have guns on campus!”  Think about that for a minute.  The precocious and pimply faced 17 year old can’t legally carry off campus, so painting him as the face of campus carry distorts the question.  In addition, a student today is hardly the student you might remember from years ago.  A large percentage of today’s students have jobs and families.  Military veterans are returning to finish their degree.  Part time students go to school after working at their day job.  Older students return to school to retrain for a second career.  In fact, the very policeman you call when you’re off campus may be on campus tonight studying for her advanced degree.  Why should she be disarmed on campus?

Being a students changed in other ways as well.  Gone are the days of 3 ring binders.  Today, every backpack can be a treasure chest of phones, music players, computers, iPads, musical instruments, credit cards, and cash.  Those stolen items can usually be replaced after a crime.  Not always. Innocence is irreplaceable.

Rape and sexual assault on campus, and on the way to and from campus, affects someone for a lifetime.  Crime on campus is fairly equally divided between assault, robbery and rape.  Women in college are three times more likely to be victims of sexual assault when compared to women overall.  A fifth of undergraduates and a tenth of graduate students report sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.   You can argue that undergraduates can not legally carry on campus therefore arming students would be ineffective.  That is only part of the picture.  Robbers and rapists have a difficult time telling the difference between a disarmed 20 year old and a returning veteran who is 22 years old.  Using a firearm for self-defense reduces the likelihood that an attempted rape will be completed by 90 percent or more.

Statistics only tell part of the story.  In many states, older students can carry discretely all day long..but not when they are on campus.  In some cases, disarming older students on campus may disarm them at their day job as well.  We never credit the increased rate of victimization of graduate students as being caused by a gun free campus even though the crime took place off campus.  We should.

“But, we don’t want kids with guns on campus!”

I get that. Let us have the debate of who should go armed and where, but let's look at the reality and get past simplistic slogans.  Let’s look at real people.

  • How does disarming the contractor who trims the bushes on campus keep me safer?
  • How does disarming the EMT who is picking up a sick student at the campus health center keep me safer?
  • How does disarming the wheelchair-bound student who takes night classes keep me safer?

Saying “We don’t want kids with guns!” begs the question.  Which students are you talking about, and has a plastic “no-guns” sign on campus actually made us safer?  Fortunately, we don’t have to guess.  We know.

We have thousands of man-years of experience that we can examine.

Ten states already allow concealed carry on campus.  Their experience is more powerful than papers full of academic speculation.

“We observe no particular risk from campus carry.  Permit holders commit firearms-related violations at a lower rate than even the very low rate for police officers. The rate is in the thousandths of a percentage point, and data from several states show that the rate is just as low for college-age permit holders.”

That is a lot of data to examine, but I have a simpler test for you.  Do you know which states already allowed concealed carry on campus?  Do you remember what happened when they adopted their campus carry policy?  The fact that you can’t name those states means that nothing happened when school campuses were treated just like everywhere else and students and staff were allowed to carry.  Nothing happened.  There were no rivers of blood on campus from concealed carry.  It was a non-event because a college campus isn't special.

Does that really surprise anyone.. other than the faculty?

The original article is here.  Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.

  • 6 thoughts on “Stereotypes and Realities of Guns on Campus- What were you thinking?

    1. Some professors and other University staff might be afraid of students with guns because they know that they themselves are narrow minded, capricious, vengeful, hateful, or just flat out crazy, etc. And they then project these states of mind onto their students because they are not always righteous in their treatment of some students.. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    2. In TX, some professors who oppose campus carry laws have recently advanced the argument that knowing that some students may be armed on campus would intimidate them and both change the way they teach and grade papers, and negatively impact the overall learning environment on the campus. The latter point is absurd on its face. No one ever seems to explain just HOW this would degrade the learning experience for psychologically normal students, and in any case, the lack of any such degradation of learning environment on campuses (campi?) that already allow concealed carry clearly disproves it. However, the first point is even more instructive. Any professor or other faculty, who is so frightened of the possibility of encountering an armed student on campus (whether walking between classes or while discussing a bad grade), is a person with a significant, and diagnosable, mental health problem. Not only that, but by their own admission, it is a problem that impairs their ability to carry out the duties of their job. All the available data, of which there are a lot nowadays, clearly demonstrate that no increase in public danger occurs when concealed carry is allowed (either on college campuses or elsewhere), if anything, the opposite effect occurs. One must wonder how such a fearful professor manages to get through the rigors of daily life, go to the grocery store, movies, restaurants, etc., since all of those places are likely to have people carrying concealed guns at them.
      Obviously either,
      1) the professor is able to function effectively in daily life because (s)he doesn’t REALLY have such a strong irrational fear of guns, and their argument is simply a lie, used as a ploy to advance their anti-rights political agenda, or,
      2) The person has to contend with constant excessive anxiety all the while (s)he is out in public in modern America. If this is the case, the person’s life could be improved far more by seeking psycho-therapy than by trying to change the gun laws. Especially since bad guys with guns are already ignoring the existing anti-gun laws anyway, and it is obvious that they will ALWAYS be out there in the public (and probably also the academic) sphere.

      Whichever of these 2 scenarios is the case, one has to wonder why universities retain such employees, or why they would hire such individuals in the first place. Do they really think it is appropriate to have liars who abuse their positions of authority as professors, on their faculty? Do they really want psychologically impaired individuals teaching their students? And even if so, don’t they feel some obligation to try to help them get counseling to deal with their irrational anxiety? After all, concealed carry of guns in the public square is a fact of life in America, and anyone who is so morbidly afraid of guns that it threatens to impact their job performance or their daily life needs help.

      Putting more restrictive, anti-rights laws into effect cannot help such individuals, not only because the laws don’t work, but primarily because, even if they DID work, the person with such an irrational fear will not stop being afraid just because he is safer. The fear is an IRRATIONAL one-it exists in spite of evidence showing that it is not justified-and nothing short of learning to change the irrational thought processes involved is going to improve things – that’s why I recommended psycho-therapy – that at least has a chance of improving the person’s life.

    3. A fifth of undergraduates and a tenth of graduate students report sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.

      Bullsh*t. While I have zero problem with campus carry, which is legal hereabouts, I do object to using bogus stats to argue for it. There is no rape culture on campus. There is no campus rape epidemic. And there’s no way in hell that women would actually be going to college if 20% of them were being sexually assaulted.

    4. “My initial reaction to the question is the same as yours. Are students responsible enough to defend themselves? Why would we want a gun on campus”?
      NONE OF THAT was my first reaction.
      Who is this guy? What knowledgeable person would think that? WTF is a “gun free” zone except a danger area?
      If you don’t want to be armed, then don’t be. I prefer to be armed EVERYWHERE.

    5. Nicely done!
      A couple of simple but profound sentences in the article illustrate where ‘the wheels have come off’ our modern universities:

      “We don’t have to ignore our experience as we simplify our ideas. ”
      “Education is supposed to help us differentiate between things that seem roughly similar, but are different in important ways. ”

      Bravo, Sir.

    6. I have been on the campus of the University of Oklahoma numerous times, even went to a few football games there. Concealed means concealed.

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