Thursday, April 19, 2007

Universities and Guns

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has some resonance with me since I work at a University that is also a "gun free zone". Just the other week I was pondering the fact that the policy which disarms me as an employee, makes my workplace the perfect place for (as I was thinking at that point) terrorists to come in and take over a building and have several hundred ready-made hostages. Our campus, like VT's is a very large campus, spanning several square miles thus making it impossible to stop criminals from bringing weapons to harm people. Further, the University police and local police agencies almost certainly don't have enough officers to control the entire campus (Judge may argue this being part of one of those agencies).

From my own perspective, what happened at VT, could happen easily enough at my University and there isn't much that could be done to stop it. "or is there?" I currently don't carry at work because I like money and the University gives me money for working for them and if I carry at work, I can be fired for doing so. So its an economic decision, I give up part of my security for money, many gunnies do it as well I'm sure, I certainly don't like it, but unless I get another job, that's my fate right now. After the shooting at VT, many pundits have opened their yaps about how lack of concealed carry enabled Cho to murder so many, or how Viginia's lax gun laws (no 7 day waiting period) made it too easy for him to get a gun, or the police and administration didn't respond fast enough.

BULLSHIT to all that! nobody knows what would have happened.

What I do want to point out is that the logic behind banning carry at a University is flawed. I don't see what changes me from a regular Joe citizen who's allowed to legally carry anywhere in my home state except for Casino's, on grade school grounds (Universities don't count as schools) and Federally restricted areas (National Parks etc) to a person who cannot be trusted to carry at my place of work? Really, what's the difference? The always excellent Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent argument for at least giving Faculty and Staff a way to defend themselves and the students (if it is deemed that students are too irresponsible to have a gun).

If Virginia and other states have found that it's safe to let law-abiding citizens carry guns on streets, in shopping districts, in parks, and the like, why wouldn't it be equally safe to let law-abiding professors and staff to carry guns in the university? What magic is there about a university that makes guns in law-abiding citizens' hands (again, let's even set aside college students, if we think they are unusually likely to behave foolishly) more dangerous at a university than elsewhere? I know there are some university professors who are, er, a bit odd. But wouldn't the average professor — or average university employee generally — who wants a concealed-carry license to carry on campus be at least as responsible as the average citizen who wants a concealed carry license to carry outside campus? Given that licensees don't start shootouts over fender-benders, and that gun store employees, police officers eating lunch, and other law-abiding people who are routinely armed don't start shootouts over arguments, why should we think that armed professors (to be precise, that small group of professors who chooses to get concealed carry licensees) would start shootouts at faculty meetings?

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