It’s too early to tell what went off in the head of Chris Mercer that made him walk into a classroom in Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR with either three or four guns, then start a shooting rampage that left 10 dead and 7 wounded. In fact, since he was killed by police, we’ll probably never know. But what’s the difference? Just chalk one up for the folks who keep reminding us that the biggest thing we have to fear is not the violence caused by guns, but the violence caused by ‘gun-free zones.’
Megyn Kelly couldn’t get Donald Trump to appear on her show last night so she predictably called up Dana Loesch who couldn’t wait to tell everyone that she has renamed gun free zones ‘criminal protection areas.’ But of course Dana didn’t get out there quite as quickly as the self-appointed head of the universal CCW campaign, John Lott, who immediately posted the Umpqua CC campus security rules, which declare the school a gun-free zone.
Now that the gun industry has gotten concealed-carry of handguns to be recognized in just about every state, the idea that Americans should be able to carry a concealed weapon anywhere, anytime, helps push the ‘armed citizen’ argument to the next level, which is the stupid idea known as ‘constitutional carry,’ namely, that ownership of a gun entitles someone to carry it without undergoing specific CCW licensing or training at all. The fact that most police officers don’t receive adequate training to help them determine whether a situation actually calls for the use of lethal force, never mind whether they can actually hit the target when they pull the trigger should not be of concern if we have all those armed citizens walking around who don’t need to demonstrate that they even know how to properly hold their gun.
The fact is that there is not a single, credible study which even vaguely shows any deterrent effect on the behavior of a mass shooter because he believes that the place he has chosen to commit mass carnage might have civilians walking around with guns. After Elliot Rodger’s 2014 rampage in Isla Vista that left 6 dead, John Lott went on Fox and declared that the manifesto written by Rodger was ‘proof’ that guns were a deterrent to mass shootings, because Rodger chose to stay away from locations where he knew that he would encounter people with guns. The only problem was that Lott was lying, because Rodger specifically said that the guns he saw were being carried by police. Which is exactly why we have police, right?
The GVP community is rightfully horrified by this latest act of gun violence which transforms what the Brady Campaign calls “a sanctuary for education” into “the latest memorial of victims lost to America’s gun violence epidemic.” Everytown’s comment said, “Once again a college community has endured a tragic mass shooting.” Predictably, the White House called for strengthening gun laws knowing there’s no chance this will occur.
But what do we say if it turns out that the shooter legally acquired his guns? How do we respond to people like Loesch and Lott who use these tragedies to promote both themselves and the ownership of guns? My response goes like this. When I was a college undergraduate I had the good fortune to study with an economist named Paul Baran. Educated in Germany, he came to the United States to escape the Hitler regime and taught at Stanford until his untimely death in 1964. With reference to the Nazis he once said, “a meaningful discussion of human affairs can only be conducted with humans; one wastes ones time talking to beasts about matters related to people.”
I think we waste our time trying to argue the moral imperative of gun violence with people like Dana Loesch, John Lott or Wayne LaPierre. I don’t care how many gun nuts actually believe that good guys with guns stop bad guys. Good guys don’t need to carry guns.