Leave it to Shannon and the chicks (as in women, not in birds) to come up with a new twist on America’s national bash known as ‘March Madness’ by starting their own campaign to prevent colleges from becoming the latest venue where anyone and everyone can carry a gun. The Everytown group has just posted a new graphic identifying the states where bills have been introduced that would allow guns on campus, of which four such attempts have gone down the tubes but twelve more remain to be finished up. The campaign has gotten a boost from Bryant Gumbel, whose commitment to reducing gun violence is so pronounced that he’s been attacked by Ted Nugent, who might do himself a favor and stick to strumming his guitar.
Most of the folks who honestly believe that guns would make campuses safer are reacting to a recent spate of news stories regarding campus rape. And while nobody wants to walk around a college campus in fear of being attacked, the question which needs to be addressed is whether carrying a gun would really make anyone on campus more safe. The truth is that college campuses, particularly the larger schools with residential populations, happen to be places where certain types of behaviors are unfortunately all too common, and such behaviors are guaranteed to make students much less safe when combined with access to guns.
I am referring to two issues that are generic to campus life: alcohol and suicide. According to the NIH, four out of five college students consume alcohol and half of those student drinkers admit to binge drinking as well. More than 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related injuries, and nearly 700,000 students report being assaulted by another student who had been drinking prior to the attack. Nearly 600,000 students each year end up in the campus health station because they injured themselves while under the influence of alcohol, and nearly 100,000 reported that they were sexually abused by someone who was under the influence during the attack.
Proponents of campus guns will tell you that these statistics prove the necessity of getting rid of gun-free college zones, but what they don’t want to do is look at the possible use of guns by the students who drink and then assault someone else. Even the average gun nut (myself included) will admit that guns and alcohol don’t mix, and it’s to Everytown’s credit that the announcement of their March Madness campaign focused specifically on the degree to which alcohol impairs judgement, particularly the mental stability required to behave safely around guns. As for suicide, it happens to be the second leading cause of death for college students, and if anyone tells you that a suicidal person is less prone to end their life because they have access to a gun, you’re not talking to someone who possesses even a shred of intelligence, never mind common sense.
Last week the debate on campus guns got particularly loud in Florida, due largely to the energy and effort of the gun-totin’ Grandma, a.k.a. Marion Hammer, the Gunshine State’s lobbyist for the NRA. She sent out a call to all the gunnies in Florida, telling them that their constitutional “rights” were being violated if they couldn’t bring their guns into classrooms and dorms. This is a rather odd view of the 2nd Amendment, given the fact that the Supreme Court in the landmark Heller decision, specifically noted that Constitutional protections of gun ownership did not preclude the government from banning guns in “sensitive” places such as schools. But leave it to the NRA and Grandma Hammer to explain the Constitution whichever way they can.
Most proponents of colleges as gun-free zones cite the degree to which campuses are also usually crime-free zones. What I like about the Everytown campaign is that it brings us squarely back to the real issue, namely, that someone walking around with a gun is a greater risk to himself and others than when the gun was left at home. Let’s see how Everytown’s tournament plays itself out.
Amazon has it.