February 18, 2013

Why Concealed Carry Permits Do Not Belong on College Campuses

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I recently read a column written by Devon Zuegel in The Stanford Review titled “Why College Campuses Should Allow Concealed Carry.” The crux of her argument can be found in her last sentence which states, “When discussing the role of guns in our society, we need to rein in those fears and emotions, base our decisions off of facts and statistics, and remember that guns are tools that can save lives, too.”

Well, from a logical perspective, guns cannot save lives. They are inanimate objects made to cause harm to another being. I understand Zuegel’s argument that it is possible for fewer people to be killed in a mass shooting if someone is able to “take out” the shooter. However, by no means are guns tools of peace. At the end of the day, guns are tools meant to cause harm to another being.

According to Zuegel, gun-free zones give a “monopoly of force” to anyone willing to break the law. She cites the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 as an example where the police searched for the shooter for two hours, and claims that a concealed carry permit (CCP) holder would have been able to take out the shooter and save more lives. That may be possible, but we will never know for certain. What we do know is that police officers are trained extensively in how to effectively manage their weapons in high-stress situations. Further, police officers are taught that they should only fire their weapon as a last resort. When the officials trained to protect and serve innocent civilians are told to use their weapons with discretion, I find it irresponsible for anyone to argue that private citizens should be encouraged to use their weapons at the first sign of trouble.

Zuegel continues her argument by stating that guns are “the right tool for the job.” She argues that she is a relatively short girl, and she needs a better tool than her firsts if she is grabbed one night on the way home. She states that mace or Tasers “can be ineffective and even counterproductive.” According to Zuegel, a concealed handgun is the most effective tool for self-defense because 55.5% of the time a concealed gun is drawn in self-defense, the criminal retreats.

But what happens the other 44.5% of the time? I’m a 5 foot tall girl, so I do empathize with Zuegel’s need to feel safe walking home alone in the dark. Maybe it’s irresponsible of me to not be more concerned about how I would defend myself in the event of an attack, but I really don’t think I’m in the wrong. If you try to use mace on someone attempting to attack you, your aggressor may overpower you and use your mace against you. Unless you know how to react when you have been sprayed with mace, you’ve just incapacitated yourself, and the same scenario is true when using a Taser.

So why would a gun be any different? The only real difference between mace and a gun is that a gunshot wound is more harmful and possibly even deadly whereas mace will not kill you. Statistics show that 44.5% of the time a gun was pulled in an attack, a shot was fired, but by whom was the shot fired? Was it the aggressor, or the one being attacked? Did the fired gun prevent the attack?  Was the shot lethal? These are all questions that must be asked.

Zuegel concludes her column by arguing that the claims that concealed guns would lead to more accidents and crime are unfounded.

Let’s first tackle her claim that more guns will not lead to more accidental shootings. That simply isn’t true; increasing the amount of guns certainly increases the possibility of more accidental shootings. For example, a friend of mine’s aunt works as a professor at UC Denver, one of the schools where CCPs are allowed. Recently, a coworker of hers was showing off his gun to his colleagues when he accidentally fired a shot thereby injuring another colleague. He didn’t realize the safety was not on, and harmed another person – the concern of concealed guns leading to more accidents is a real concern with serious consequences.

Regarding CCPs not resulting in higher crime rates, Zuegel, cites statistics showing that the felony rate of CCP holders in North Carolina is more than 20 times less than the national felony rate. From those statistics, Zuegel concluded that people who carry concealed weapons are less likely to commit crimes.

Any college student should have learned that correlation does not mean causation. CCP holders in North Carolina may have a lower felony rate, but that does not mean they are less likely to commit crimes. The statistics she cited merely indicate that, in the past, CCP holders in one state have been charged with fewer felonies than the national average. That is not a guarantee that allowing more CCPs would not lead to an increased crime rate.

To be honest, the idea of allowing CCPs on college campuses terrifies me. Some of you may argue that we could have avoided some of the sexual assaults if those who were attacked had a gun to defend themselves, but I truly believe that we cannot prevent violent crimes through violent solutions. All that would do is lead to another person being harmed. There is a reason there is a trial with a judge and jury before any person can receive the death sentence. Average citizens should be law abiders, not law enforcers. We elect representatives to shape our laws, and have policemen and military personnel who devote their lives to protecting our rights and freedoms.

Mass shootings are heinous crimes, and as human beings we want to understand what causes someone to commit such a crime to understand how to prevent so great a tragedy. We can debate the causes and prevention techniques all day long, but there is one thing I do know for certain: the solution to gun violence is definitely not more guns.

Original Author: Jaime Freilich