Gunning down the arms barriers
Reasonable restriction or unnecessary infringement?
In deciding whether to allow lawful concealed-carry on campus, the question that must be answered is not why is concealed-carry needed, but what reasons are there to restrict or deny concealed-carry? Anytime a right is restricted it is crucial that the decision to do so be based on solid evidence and not mere supposition. The burden of proof should not be on the citizen to demonstrate a need for his or her right; rather the onus should be on the party that wishes to restrict that right to prove that such action is necessary.
Concealed-carry is currently allowed at several community colleges and universities in states such as Colorado, Virginia and Utah. To date there has not been any reported incidents at any of these schools, and they aren’t experiencing any of the negative consequences the opposition insists will occur if lawful concealed-carry is allowed. Further, according to a 2009 study, Brigham Young and Utah State were both ranked among the top 25 safest colleges. It is worthwhile to note that concealed-carry on campus has been allowed in Utah since 2006.
Despite this visible evidence, the opposition continues to make the assertion that allowing lawful concealed-carry on campus will create an increase in violent crimes, destroy the safe atmosphere of
colleges and create an environment prohibitive to learning.
Even if one were to assume that guns on campus would be a problem, what logic is there behind denying lawful carry of a firearm while taking no steps to prevent unlawful carry? Colleges are not closed environments, and there are no physical barriers to prevent anyone from carrying on our campus. There is no sense in attempting to make the campus safer if you remove firearms only from citizens who are willing to follow the law.
George Washington said, “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” To continue to deny concealed-carry permit holders the right to lawfully carry on campus when no tangible barrier exists to prevent anyone from bringing a gun on campus is truly unjust and unwise.
More information about concealed-carry on campus can be found at: http://concealedcampus.org/common-arguments/
The risks outweigh the benefits
Support for the Second Amendment is the fundamental argument of students who support House Bill 2353. Although I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, I believe there are situations where guns, concealed or in the open, are not appropriate.
Because of the ideological ocean that separates me from the proponents of HB 2353, I will forgo the emotional appeals and focus on the data to put this debate in context. To begin with there are no specific statistical data that prove college campuses would be safer if students were allowed to conceal on campus. Kansas’ institutions of higher education are extremely safe. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, violent crimes committed on university property account for less than 1 percent of all violent crimes. In 2011, there were only five recorded deaths attributed to college shootings in the United States. In comparison, more than 4,000 college students take their own lives every year. Traditional college-age students are 800 times more likely to commit suicide than get killed during a school shooting. These rare situations should not be taken out of context, nor should they be allowed to scare people into supporting increased access for conceal and carry.
College campuses are not just classrooms; the university is a unique environment that sponsors a day care, holds athletic and cultural events in addition to welcoming distinguished guests and conferences. Certain classrooms would become exponentially more dangerous if firearms were present. For example, an accidental discharge in a chemistry classroom could release dangerous gases that could harm students. In conversations with University Police, many believe having a student with a conceal and carry license could confuse a police officer and lead to unnecessary casualties.
Given the excessive binge drinking that occurs on college campuses, allowing weapons would be dangerous and irresponsible. A study conducted at the University of Florida found that two-thirds of gun-owning college students engage in binge drinking. Gun-owning students are more likely to drink frequently, excessively and engage in risky activities, such as driving when under the influence of alcohol than their unarmed counterparts. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 51 percent of traditional college students binge drink at least once a month.
If HB 2353 is signed into law, students would see drastic changes in university functions. The university provides a great atmosphere to host conferences and camps on campus. If HB 2353 becomes the law of the land, it is conceivable that attendance at camps that support athletics and arts could drop off. As for university athletic events, the current bylaws of the MIAA would force the university to provide metal detectors at every entrance of the Weede. In order to secure all doors on campus, the university would be forced to post metal detectors at all entrances. These costs are estimated to be at least $5 million and would be passed on to the students in the form of student fees.
Organizations such as Kansas Students for Concealed Carry are unfortunately being hoodwinked by a simple political trick. The Kansas House passed a bill to allow conceal and carry on college campuses in each of the last two years. The problem with the proposed bills is the Senate leadership has no interest in allowing the bills to be introduced on the floor. Many of the experienced and moderate senators have expressed concern with the logistics of HB 2353. These experienced legislators see HB 2353 for the simple political trick it is.
Finally, HB 2353 has little to do with student safety. It is, in fact, a simple function of our never-ending campaign and primary cycles. I urge the elected representatives in Topeka to stop playing political games and take this pointless and irresponsible piece of legislation off the table.