College Students Have Gun Rights, Too

1473033_575037302570104_1380388664_nI’ve written here previously about the shortcomings of supposedly “gun free” zones: that places where one is unable to carry a gun are usually the places one is most likely to be shot with one. The reason for this is simple: criminals care not a whit about an institution’s ban of weapons–precisely what makes them criminals–whereas the law-abiding are the one’s who will abide them. As such, the good guys are disarmed, and the bad guys know it.

Which is what makes college campuses–and schools in general–ripe targets for shootings. According to the Huffington Post, last year there were at least 27 shootings on or near college campuses. I say “at least” because in the event media didn’t cover them, they were not counted. There could have been more. One such incident, on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, involved the shooting of campus officer Sean Collier as he pursued alleged suspects in the April Boston bombings. Two months later, a gunman in California shot and killed five at Santa Monica College. Another, in St. Louis, MO,  involved a student shooting an administrator over a financial aid dispute.

There is one fact that underscores every specific shooting cited by the Huffington Post article: every one of them occurred at locations where guns are banned (New River Community College in Virginia permits weapons on campus, but only inside locked vehicles, rendering them about useful as a Swiss Army knife against Excaliber).

While it’s hard to know whether an armed population of law-abiding students could have averted any of those shootings, it is interesting to reflect on the fact that you just don’t hear about these mass shootings occurring on campuses that explicitly allow for the carrying of firearms by students or faculty. It makes sense. If one were inclined to commit a crime against someone, the potential of staring down the business end of a Smith and Wesson is a powerful deterrent.

A common refrain against allowing guns on campus centers around the shallow argument that because colleges are havens for booze and dumb, testosterone-fueled jocks, putting guns in such an environment means society will be courting stories of Hunger Games levels of gun violence every day. To which I ask: name one. Name an actual incidence of some frat house gun owner going on a Rambo-inspired rampage fueled by Triple Sec and a syringe full of Man Juice. Has anyone heard of that actually happening?

I can’t think of any. If it had occurred, does anyone for a moment think that the media would fail to report on it? But it’s a ridiculous argument anyway. Being a college-aged student and gun owner myself, and having interacted with others as well, I find it vanishingly unlikely that a responsible gun owner away from college is going to abandon all such responsibility once they cross a geographic line onto a college campus. Even if a similar incident were to occur, is that a compelling enough reason to hamstring everyone else who have no inclination to do the same? Is some idiot abusing their liberties a proper justification to disallow the proper exercise of someone else’s? Color me unconvinced.

There is also an important moral component in disarming college students, particularly women. An unacceptably high number of assaults on college campuses are of the sexual variety. It’s a simple recognition of gender physiology that men are, on average, more physically imposing than women. In light of this, a handgun in the hands of a woman allows her to level the playing field. What right does the collective have in deeming a woman in such a situation legally unable to provide in an adequate defense? Forgive me of I’m mistaken–I am a member of the “oppressive” “patriarchy” after all–but shouldn’t the idea of giving a woman a powerful leg up on a male attacker be in line with the Left’s conception of feminism?

Perhaps not. Although they have since been removed due to “miscommunication and confusion”, in 2006 the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs posted “tips” for women to consider as a “last resort” in an attack. They included “telling your attacker you have a disease or are menstruating”, or that “vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” Democrat Rep. Joe Salazar (CO) argued that call boxes and whistles were sufficient enough to protect women from rape. Reassured yet?

Yes, because being subjected to a supremely dehumanizing act like rape is best answered with a similarly dehumanizing response like peeing oneself. And playing on an aggressor’s gullibility by feigning a disease or a monthly cycle strikes me as equally absurd–and easily debunked–but what do I know. The University–and the Left at large?–believes an appropriately feminine response is ruining your favorite blouse with your own pee or the tortellini you had for dinner. Or carrying a whistle. Or perusing a call box while someone is on top of you. Mine involves a Beretta strapped to your hip. Ladies: which feels more comforting to you?

Another common argument posits that allowing guns on campus distracts from the “learning environment”. How so? The point of allowing guns on campus is that they be concealed from view. They can’t distract from a learning environment if no one even knows they are there. What qualitative difference is there in carrying a concealed weapon into Wal-Mart and carrying one into a college classroom? I’ve never distracted fellow shoppers with the Springfield on the small of my back as they’ve mulled over Cornish game hens, so why should one expect anything different in discussing protein modification with peers in school?

I’ve never shaken the belief every time I hear of shootings in “gun free” zones that the Left would rather mourn over a dead body than allow citizens the opportunity to avert them with a gun. Prove me wrong. Because despite the fact that no gunman who has ever perpetrated a shooting in these zones has been deterred by the illegality of carrying a gun into them, the Left continues to live by the delusion that creating zones whereby guns aren’t allowed will keep people safe. The only one’s with any presumption of safety in a gun free zone are the gunmen themselves; safe in the knowledge that no one is likely to mount armed resistance against them.

Disarming college students who are otherwise permitted to carry, instead of keeping everyone safe, leaves them as sitting ducks. A sign demonstrating that a campus is “gun free” hardly engenders confidence to anyone huddled behind a desk with someone shooting at them. So, let them carry. In all 50 states and DC. Piers Morgan and other bleeding hearts pay lip service to keeping students safe at school, but are content in limiting an individual’s ability to do so.

After all, standing up in a maelstrom to inform a shooter that Morgan says guns don’t deter crime isn’t likely to deter the crime. In such a situation, he can’t help you. A gun just might. Risk of harm doesn’t cease behind an arbitrary campus line. Neither should one’s right to self defense.


About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA


  1. Idaho: The Seventh State In Which The Prof May “Shoot A Student” | The Right Argument - March 13, 2014

    […] written previously about the consequences of students, particularly women, being unable to level the […]

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