|EDINBURG, May 12 - Given we live in a society that sees violence as the solution to all problems, it is understandable, in the wake of shootings at public schools and colleges, some people will advocate arming teachers and allowing concealed firearms to be carried on campus.
A nation offends us; “bomb it back into the stone age,” or “nuke it” and “turn the country into a sea of glass." Never mind most of the people in the offending country had nothing to do with whatever offended us. “Kill ‘em all; let God sort ‘em out.”
In response to crime, increase the number of executions. Never mind capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime; and, those states exercising capital punishment the most have the highest murder rates.
If abortion is seen as the murder, blow up abortion clinics, and kill the doctors who perform abortions.
If nuclear weapons pose a danger to the world, build more. Seek “first strike capability”--meaning the nuclear attack against a nation with nuclear weapons is so strong any ability to retaliate with a nuclear strike is destroyed, thereby encouraging the other nation to “use them or lose them” in international conflict.
If children misbehave in school, use corporal punishment. Forget the fact disciplining children with violence teaches them violence solves problems. The abused become abusers themselves.
If the over 60 percent of all murders are committed with a firearm (overwhelmingly pistols), repeal gun control laws and arm more citizens.
If people with firearms in their homes are more likely to be killed than people who do not, put firearms in more homes.
If our college campuses generally are safer than the surrounding community, put firearms on college campuses in the hands of 21 and 22 year olds who are more prone to violence than older adults.
If there is a problem, violence is the solution. Sadly, many people in the U.S. think this way.
It does not work that way. Increasing violence only increases violence. Increasing the potential for violence increases violence.
One would think we would learn. That does not mean ban firearms, as fanatics in the anti-gun crowd advocate, and fanatics in the pro-gun crowd fear. It should mean we examine the facts and make rational decisions on where firearms should and should not be allowed.
As former Texas State Senator Craig Washington has said, “Neither man, woman, child, nor beast is safe when the Texas State Legislature is in session”. As in the two previous sessions, some highly misguided Legislators want to ensure, in the name of safety, everyone is less safe when on our college campuses.
One might think Legislators would be sobered by the recent shooting at Lone Star Community College. Two people got into an argument; someone pulled a gun. The two who were arguing were wounded, PLUS a bystander. Therein lies the problem.
Students get into arguments; young people are more prone to allow an argument to escalate into a fight. If there are guns, some fights escalate to a shooting. In a gun fight, people generally do not aim in any meaningful sense. They fire. Rounds fly; bystanders are hit, sometimes killed.
If other students are armed, more guns are pulled; more rounds fly; more people are wounded or killed. The police will treat everyone with a firearm as a threat and a suspect. Armed students increase the likelihood a scared police officer misreads a situation, and shoots a student who was trying to defend others.
While legislators should know better, many basically are drunkards when it comes to the idea of allowing 21 year olds to carry concealed firearms on campus. These legislators might not be drunk on alcohol; but they are intoxicated with the notion students, faculty and staff will be safer if anyone 21 or older can carry a concealed firearm on campus.
One reasonable conversation should be enough to convince anyone allowing people to carry concealed firearms on campus is a stupid idea. Unfortunately, it is impossible to reason with drunkards.
When Texas adopted the conceal law, some argued Texas would revert to the Wild West, with shoot-outs in the streets. I was reasonably confident that would not happen, and it didn’t. The bill required finger printing and a thorough background check before a permit could be obtained.
Additionally, applicants had to complete a course and pass a written test on Texas laws regarding citizen firearm possession, use and safety. They also had to prove proficiency with a firearm on a firing range.
As a former infantryman and combat veteran, and as a gun owner who has taken the State mandated course, I am not particularly impressed with the proficiency portion of the course.
Instructors appropriately emphasize safety. The test for proficiency with a firearm for target shooting may be okay, but people do not obtain carry permits for target shooting. They obtain them to defend themselves and others in a life threatening situation.
So, are applicants tested for proficiency in live fire situations? No.
As argued in last week’s column, in live fire situations, even people highly trained in both the use of firearms, and for live fire situations--like combat--frequently “malfunction.” The “friendly fire” wounding of a police office in the Boston bomber shootout is an excellent example.
Another excellent example is the “friendly fire” incidents in the military where troops, firing wildly, or not engaging in target identification, shoot one of their own, as Pat Tillman was shot by highly trained Rangers in Afghanistan.
These kinds of instances should be more than enough to convince us allowing firearms on our college campuses does not make anyone safer, but makes everyone less safe.
If this bill becomes law, blood will now flow through the “halls of ivy.” The campus quad will now become the OK Corral.
But, somewhere in a dorm room, a depressed student will shoot and kill himself. A fight will escalate into a shooting. A coed will attempt to defend herself against attack and will be killed with her own pistol. If there is an active shooter on campus, a student will fire wildly, wounding or killing an innocent bystander; or, police officers mistakenly will shoot a “good guy.”
Ultimately, more lives will be lost than saved. This bill should die, not our college students.
Samuel Freeman is a political science professor based in the Rio Grande Valley. His “Left is Right” columns appear regularly in the Guardian.