EDITORIAL: Gun-free campuses are safety-free zones

Colleges should permit concealed carry

Five years ago Monday, 32 students and teachers lost their lives in a shooting at Virginia Tech. Earlier this month, seven students were killed and three wounded at a small California Christian university. These tragedies exemplify the failure of “gun-free” school zones and are evidence for the need to overturn concealed carry bans on campuses so law-abiding citizens can defend themselves against maniacs.

In the April 4 incident, One Goh allegedly lined up nursing students against a classroom wall at Oakland’s Oikos University, from which he had been expelled, and opened fire. It would be difficult to imagine the fear those students must have felt as the gunman aimed his pistol at them and pulled the trigger. The shooter had no reason to fear for his own safety because firearms are banned at most postsecondary schools across the nation. While some attackers abandon the instinct for self-preservation and shoot themselves, police report Mr. Goh fled the scene and was arrested nearby. Had a responsibly armed person been present to threaten him, lives likely would have been spared.

Coincidentally, on the same day as the Oakland tragedy, hundreds of students at colleges nationwide attended class wearing empty holsters, a symbolic protest against widespread policies banning weapons from college property. The demonstration was arranged by Students for Concealed Carry (SCC), a nationwide campus organization with 43,000 members founded after the Virginia Tech tragedy. The group advocates the right to carry concealed firearms on campuses for the purpose of self-defense. “Colleges invite these shootings by guaranteeing criminals their victims will be disarmed,” said group spokesman David Burnett following the Oakland attack. Alameda County, where Oikos University is located, bans concealed carry.

Opponents of the right to bear arms always predict increased violence as a result of allowing concealed carry. The facts show otherwise. Florida approved the practice in 1987, triggering a trend leaving Illinois as the only state to ban concealed carry completely. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows that the violent crime rate nationwide peaked in 1991 and has declined nearly every year since.

Most colleges are exempt from concealed carry laws, but the movement to repeal campus gun bans is expanding. In 2010, the Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with Mountain States Legal Foundation and SCC that the University of Colorado’s weapons policy violated the law. Other state colleges have since dropped their prohibitions. Nationwide, more than 200 campuses in six states now permit concealed carry. More than 20 campus shootings have occurred since 2001 - none by students with permits.

In Virginia, where emotions are still raw following the Blacksburg massacre, concealed carry is permitted, but college restrictions still exist. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled in January that while hidden firearms are allowed on campus grounds, authorities can prohibit them inside school buildings and at public gatherings. Virginia Tech adopted the regulation in March.

The Second Amendment grants Americans the right to keep and bear arms. Where that right is respected, security prevails. Gun-free colleges risk becoming free-fire zones for troubled individuals. Common sense dictates that responsible gun bearers should be allowed on campus.

The Washington Times

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