The Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University has just issued an important report on guns and college campuses which is summarized in a Washington Post op-ed or you can download the entire report here. Basically, the report argues that, Gun-nut Nation’s claims to the contrary, allowing guns on college campuses does not enhance security or safety, but will result in more, not less gun violence in academic environments.
The Hopkins report follows shortly after the University of Texas ended its ban on campus-carry, which makes it the eighth state to allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns with them to school. But there are also 24 states which grant colleges and universities a local option to allow guns within their campus domains, which leaves only 18 states whose college campuses are still gun-verein. Some of the states where guns aren’t allowed in academic environments are heavily regulated states like New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. But there are also some surprises on the no-campus list, including gun-rich states like Missouri, Georgia and the Gun-shine State most of all. Gun-nut Nation tries year in and year out to open college campuses to guns in Florida, but so far common sense prevails.
In trying to assess whether guns are a risk or benefit to college life, the authors note that they are forced to rely on data which measures this question for society as a whole. But this approach still yields sufficient evidence to make a judgement about one of the cardinal tenets of Gun-nut Nation’s infatuation with campus carry, namely, the notion that educational settings attract the real gun nuts – the mass shooters – because colleges and universities tend to be gun-free zones.
The evidence that gun-free zones attract mass shooters comes from one place and one place only, namely, the alt-right media postings of my good buddy John Lott. I enjoy following his rants if only because you can always count on John to invent a definition that will justify what he is trying to argue regardless of whether the definition bears any relationship to reality at all. His latest attempt to promote the idea that gun-free zones attract mass shooters is to define a gun-free zone as any place where residents don’t have easy access to owning guns. So even though mass shootings have never been a feature of New York City life, as far as John is concerned, the Big Apple is a completely gun-free zone. Get it?
The real problem with any analysis of mass shootings is that we are forced to infer the motives of mass shooters because most don’t survive the shooting incident itself. These events are usually, but not always, homicides followed by a suicide, thus our understanding of the how and why of such events is a function of looking for similarities in the circumstances surrounding those shootings, such as where they took place, who were the victims, and so forth. The one mass shooter who has supplied an overwhelming amount of in-person, forensic evidence is Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, but if you want to download, read and try to figure out his motives from the 1,500-page Manifesto he posted online prior to the event, good luck and Godspeed. Even the court-appointed psychiatrists who examined him prior to trial couldn’t figure him out.
While nobody can say for sure why gun violence, particularly mass gun violence, occurs in certain places and not others, the Hopkins report aggregates and summarizes enough research to state (beyond any doubt) that gun assaults and gun suicides occur much more frequently wherever guns are present, regardless of whether concealed-carry is sanctioned or not. If John Lott didn’t exist, Gun-nut Nation would invent him, because there is simply no research which shows that our society, and particularly our college campuses are safer because civilians are walking around with guns. But since when did the pro-gun argument have anything to do with facts anyway?