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Old February 26, 2009, 08:56 AM   #1
ZeSpectre
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More from James Madison University

More letters and such from the James Madison University student paper "The Breeze".

Letter: In Defense of Gun Rights Week

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Letter: In Defense of Gun Rights Week

Posted By Letters to the Editor On February 26, 2009 @ 1:19 am In Opinion | No Comments

I have heard many people condone the JMU College Republicans and Students for Concealed Carry on Campus for hosting Gun Rights Week. It is no secret that most students at JMU disapprove of the notion that students should be allowed to carry on campus. Most people fear those who would carry guns, and are worried that a “wild west” situation would occur that results in mass chaos. This is simply untrue. Look at these facts:

* In states that allow concealed carry, total violent crime is 13 percent lower, homicide is 3 percent lower, robbery is 26 percent lower and aggravated assault is 7 percent lower (A 1996 FBI Uniform Crime Report)

* Since Florida instituted concealed carrying in 1987, less than 0.02 percent of Florida carry permits have been revoked because of gun crimes committed by license holders (Florida Dept. of State)

* In the 31 states that now have “concealed right to carry” laws, murders were down, on average, by 8.5 percent (National Center for Policy Analysis).

* Rapes were down 5 percent and serious assaults by 7 percent (NCPA)

* In cities with populations of more than 250,000, murder rates dropped after the passage of such laws by an average of 13.5 percent (NCPA).

These are just some statistics. But overall, they show that crime goes down when concealed carrying is allowed. In Utah, for example, they allow concealed carrying on college campuses. Do we ever hear of out-of-control crime? Of course not. To bring this closer to home, Blue Ridge Community College allows concealed carrying, and they have not had problems with the policy. The truth of the matter is that people have false assumptions of what may happen. It is not those who abide by the law we need to worry about, but the criminals who do not.

Kyle Jacobs
Freshman political science major
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Old February 26, 2009, 08:58 AM   #2
ZeSpectre
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And the other side "fires" back

Firing Back

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Firing Back

Posted By Whitten Maher On February 26, 2009 @ 1:19 am In Opinion | 1 Comment

The concealed carry on campus issue returns — debate doesn’t

[1] Second amendment issues don’t really push my buttons as of late. Of course gun violence horrifies, but the relationship between the Second Amendment and gun control policy — haunted as it is by syntax and that pesky, anachronistic bit about a “militia” — poses constitutional questions, the depths of which I can’t claim to answer presently.

My ambivalence toward the larger issue of gun control aside, I can’t remain silent when it comes to the torrid affair some of my fellow students have with firearms and their aspirations of bearing them on campus.

I’m not afraid to say that some people are “second amendment advocates” not for reasons of liberty or safety. Some people just like guns. Such a mindset is more pathological than logical, and any argument relying solely on an appeal to gun culture should be taken out back and shot.

Those arguments have been few and far between, though. More numerous are the distasteful rants aimed at cultivating fear. There’s the oh-so-nuanced “So you would be fine with just sitting there and getting slaughtered?” dig which so many proponents of concealed carry fall back on. You’ll notice common threads interwoven through countless Web posts: a person snarling at what they see as idealistic naïveté, all but taunting their opponents with a sick “when the day comes” scenario in which the people who disagree with them would be helpless (and a concealed carrier would surely save the day).

Yet some gun rights advocates have excelled recently in providing legitimate, hard-to-contest arguments for their position, and if you deny that you would be just as dogmatic as those I mentioned above. Much to my dismay, as I read comments on The Breeze and the Daily News-Record’s Web sites I actually found myself sympathizing with the idea of carrying guns on campus.

When argued calmly and logically, it’s a seductive pitch. It’s a fight for personal liberty and for the means to defend one’s self and others. It’s the fact that, once you step on to a college campus, you’re stripped of a certain right. It’s rugged individualism taken to the armed extreme. It rubbed me the wrong way, but it somehow rang true for a while. Although couched in unnerving, militaristic — almost survivalist — rhetoric, this cold, conservative logic of self-preservation made some sense.

I found it hard to argue against concealed carry on campus, but at the end of the day, I don’t want guns on my campus.

So why the dissonance?

For starters, the only people I had read or heard from at length were concealed carry supporters. Kudos to Students for Concealed Carry on Campus and the College Republicans for rallying support, I guess. The movement is the biggest one I’ve seen at JMU all year.

SCCC and Co. are in the position of speaking out against the status quo, so perhaps that’s why so few are speaking out against them.

Small wonder I began to wander, then; the dialogue has been lopsided. The lack of articulate, well reasoned opposition to the concealed carry on campus movement is striking. However you feel, there should be enlightened debate on the issue. It is still policy that people cannot bring concealed weapons onto our campus, but when a just precedent is challenged one must act swiftly to defend it — persuasively and with reasons.

You cannot categorically dismiss proponents of concealed carry on campus as trigger-happy “gun nuts” frothing at the mouth; that’s a disingenuous and dangerously lazy way to debate. You cannot linger, as too many do, on the paradoxical quality of their argument: that having more guns makes society safer. (They actually do, but in much the same way that nuclear weapons made both the United States and the USSR safer in the anxious years of a protracted Cold War.)

Neither of those points will convince anyone who wasn’t with you before, so let’s try something different.

The issue at stake is not the Second Amendment. It’s carrying weapons onto a college campus, which has been distinguished from other public areas.

I’ve heard statistics that report lower crime rates in states with concealed carry laws, but not a single study pointing to campus violence. Citing statistics gleaned from crimes in suburbs, cities and rural areas — distinctly different environments with distinctly different crimes — is not a valid way to argue the point. And when concealed carry supporters do mention colleges, it’s always the sensational shootings — never the thousands of peaceful, uneventful days on campuses across the nation.

As longtime political operative Rahm Emmanuel remarked, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Proponents of concealed carry on campus brazenly seize the opportunities provided by the shootings at Virginia Tech and other schools to gain momentum for their cause.

It’s important to note that the No. 1 justification used for concealed carry on campus has been the potential for a single, absurdly specific scenario: 1) a premeditated campus shooting 2) taking place during the day and 3) in a classroom. Such incidents are tragic and senseless, but they are also rare, unpredictable and unpreventable — it’s irresponsible to base an entire movement on such a limited hypothetical.

Consider, too, that concealed carry would effectively deputize any student on campus to act in place of law enforcement in the case of such an event (something supporters have explicitly pointed to as a benefit) — but without the training, tactics and experience our law enforcement officers possess. Does being a responsible gun owner qualify you to be a vigilante? I’m not referring to the act of judging who lives or dies, but rather the implications of unprepared, armed students trying to diffuse an already violent combat situation.

By this point, I can’t believe I was so convinced by arguments based on the selective use of isolated incidents, anger over hypothetical situations and fearmongering. It’s nice to find your voice, isn’t it?

Keep guns the hell off my campus.

Whitten Maher is a junior political science and media arts & design major and The Breeze’s opinion editor.
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Old February 26, 2009, 12:03 PM   #3
Baba Louie
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Whitten Maher's response was well written, I will say that.
Quote:
Does being a responsible gun owner qualify you to be a vigilante? I’m not referring to the act of judging who lives or dies, but rather the implications of unprepared, armed students trying to diffuse an already violent combat situation.
Vigilante? Hardly, if the connotation of vigilant is to sweep the campus/classroom of any and everything evil. CCW on campus might however, have an implication that a prepared and armed student has at least a reasonable chance for survival as opposed to being shot, knifed, bludgeoned or raped on campus; said student (or instructor) having an option heretofore not allowed (save Utah and a couple of other collegiate campuses).

Far better, I gather, to ignore or downplay violent crime on campus (is there crime on college campuses? ) and to depend on someone else with a gun and a badge to save ones studious derriere, eh?

But, I preach to the choir and they already know that sermon, chapter and verse.
__________________
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." - George Washington, January 8, 1790, First State of the Union Address
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Old February 26, 2009, 12:06 PM   #4
ZeSpectre
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Baba Louie,
I'd rather reverse the argument. He says
Quote:
Does being a responsible gun owner qualify you to be a vigilante?
My response is, "does a lack of Law Enforcement credentials disqualify you from defending your own life?"
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Old February 26, 2009, 04:01 PM   #5
Baba Louie
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Quote:
My response is, "does a lack of Law Enforcement credentials disqualify you from defending your own life?"
Well said, Ze
__________________
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." - George Washington, January 8, 1790, First State of the Union Address
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Old February 28, 2009, 02:19 PM   #6
DG45
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I'd have no objection to a gun prohibition on any campus that actually prohibited all guns on campus; and did not just prohibit the guns of the law-abiding. However, that would require a real commitment to campus security; not just lip service to it. In other words, entrance and egress to campus and buildings would have to be controlled by armed guards and entrance would have to be through metal detectors; Security would have to be as tight as it is at airports and courthouses. Otherwise while terrorists and madmen will be able to bring guns onto the campus; the law-abiding will obey the ban and won't. We saw the miserable result of this kind of totally inadequate "gun prohibition" on the campus of Virginia Tech. It is clear that it succeeded only in disarming the innocent and the law-abiding. In fact,Tech's so-called gun prohibition on campus made the innocent and law-abiding students who it disarmed (ie., the sheep) helpless prey of a wolf (actually a madman) dressed in sheep's (students) clothing. I am not a lawyer, and nothing herein should be considered a legal opinion; it is just one man's opinion, but it seems to me that when a school or a business, or a state government takes it upon itself to legally bar a person from excercising his/her 2nd Admendment rights, then a steep liability should be borne by that entity for any harm that befalls that person as a result. My guess is that after Virginia Tech realized it's "gun prohibition" had actually allowed the one dangerous person on campus to be armed, and had turned the law abiding community into his helpless prey, the school (or possibly the state of Virginia since Virginia Tech is a state supported institution) threatened to claim "soverign immunity" because almost all of the victims families settled pretty quickly, and the announced settlements that I've read seem outrageously low.
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