Concealed weapons should be allowed on campus. There, I said it. After years of believing weapons should not be allowed on university property, I have flipped my position. I can no longer find a valid reason as to why law-abiding citizens who attend and work at Eastern Michigan University or any university campus should be left defenseless.
Last week, the group Students for Concealed Carry protested the ban on carrying concealed weapons on campus. It coincided with a bill passed in the Michigan Senate that will lift the ban and allow citizens to legally carry concealed weapons at universities.
Last week was also one in which seven people were killed at Oikos University in Oakland by a former student. According to the LA Times, the alleged gunman lined his victims up in a classroom before shooting them. The police arrived as soon as they possibly could, but for seven people it was not soon enough.
If just one of the seven had a weapon, do you think those victims would have stood a better chance of surviving?
The EMU Public Safety folks are some of the most professional authorities I’ve encountered. I have no doubt they are highly capable of handling a situation similar to what happened last week at Oikos. But we cannot expect police to be on every corner, in every parking lot and every classroom every minute. Beyond that, concealed carrying restrictions actually extend beyond campus.
Many students live off campus, have night classes and walk home. We regularly receive emails and texts alerting us that yet another classmate was robbed or assaulted while walking home.
So, not only are citizens not allowed to defend themselves while on campus, they are left defenseless going to and coming from the university, too.
I realize many people will say we need stricter gun laws, not less strict, to deter crime. That logic goes something like this: We need to restrict law abiding citizens from carrying concealed weapons. This in turn will reduce the crime that criminals commit on those very law abiding folks.
So, out of all the laws criminals break, we think the one law they will obey is not carrying a concealed weapon? I’m having trouble reaching that conclusion.
Opponents of concealed weapons also point out that all hell will break loose and blood will flood the streets if we are allowed to carry. OK valid point, except that cities with the greatest restrictions are also ones that experience some of the highest homicide rates: Detroit, New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago according to a report by the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Chicago had an outright ban on all handguns until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law in 2010. In the response to its decision, the Court said “Chicago Police Department statistics, we are told, reveal that the City’s handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted and that Chicago residents now face one of the highest murder rates in the country and rates of other violent crimes that exceed the average in comparable cities.”
It seems harder restrictions do not work.
According to academic researcher and author John Lott, areas that allow good standing citizens to carry concealed weapons experience a drop in crime after a few years.
He attributes some of this to would-be attackers thinking twice about targeting a potential victim who might be armed. So, imagine this scenario:
You leave your class that ended at 9:55 p.m. to walk home. On your way, you see three suspicious males and your instincts tell you something isn’t right. Your hands happen to be in your coat pockets because it’s a chilly night. They walk by without incident. Two hours later you receive an EMU text alert that your classmate was attacked by three males matching the description of the ones you saw earlier and was in critical condition.
It turns out they didn’t prey on you because they thought maybe you were clutching something more than a cell phone in that pocket. Even though you weren’t carrying a concealed weapon, the fact that you could and thus might have was enough to deter them and save you.
Self defense should go beyond law; it’s a right by nature. Denying someone a right to defend themselves against his or her would-be attackers is immoral. The reasons opponents give for supporting restrictions is not supported by data. The restrictions criminalize the good guys and empowers the bad ones. Police cannot be everywhere at once. Ultimately, there is only one person truly responsible for your safety: you.
It took me years to arrive here, but here I stand. It’s time we’re allowed to defend ourselves with more than a pen and a sharp tongue.
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