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Dear Texas: Why Concealed Carry on College Campuses is a Bad Idea
Do We Need Handguns on Campus?
Are More 21-Year-Olds Heroes...Or Hooligans?
What is the best way to prevent gun-related violence? Give everyone a gun. Or, at least, so agrees the Texas legislature. According to TIME, Texas has become the first state where a bill to allow concealed carry on public college campuses has made it to the governor's desk. In Texas' case, the governor is likely to sign, soon to allow college students to pack heat while going about their day. The rationale behind such legislation, as explained by actor Vince Vaughn, is that schools, including colleges, are targets for gun violence because they are helpless.
Basically, gun rights advocates want concealed carry on college campuses to ward off crazies. If law-abiding citizens have guns, the reasoning goes, they can stop a mass shooter before he gets a full head of steam. Or, ideally, the lunatic will not even plan a day of evil revenge, worried that he will be struck down by a citizen-hero.
Unfortunately, neither or these reasonings are sufficient. Firstly, there is considerable danger in relying on vigilante justice to save the day in the event of a mass shooting. College students, compared to trained law enforcement officers, are more likely to perform poorly with their weapons. They are less likely to stop the perpetrator and are more likely to injure, or kill, innocent people fleeing the scene. And, when law enforcement does arrive on scene, how effectively can they differentiate between the perpetrator and responding students? On that note, how will multiple responding students be able to differentiate between the perpetrator and their own allies?
Allowing concealed carry on college campuses means a considerably higher likelihood of avoidable casualties during a mass shooting.
Secondly, the notion that having an armed student body will preemptively deter mass shooters is flawed because it assumes that such criminals are rational. Most, if not all, are mentally ill. They are not operating based on probability of survival or escape. They want to be, in their mind, martyred. They want to cause grief and seek revenge. Those with warped minds do not think the same way legislatures do.
Finally, the belief that outlawing guns is useless because "then only outlaws will have guns" is flawed because it ignores that fact that law-abiding citizens can become outlaws...or the fact that outlaws can obtain guns from law-abiding citizens, either through purchase or theft. Allowing handguns to proliferate on college campuses only increases the likelihood of tragedy. The law-abiding 21-year-old who gets a Glock and a concealed carry license might be a mentally ill, revenge-seeking person by age 23, corrupted by tragedy and biology. Or, the mentally ill student steals the handgun from a friend who shows it off.
More guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens leads, inevitably, to more guns in the hands of outlaws.
In response to the soon-to-be-passed laws, public colleges should do their utmost to restrict concealed carry to as few places on campus as possible.