Do Guns Make College Campuses Safer? Not At All.

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 Texas Tower

The Texas Tower

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?

 

 

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Want To Own A Gun? Move To New York City.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you follow the gun debate at all, you’re aware of the fact that Mike Bloomberg, the soon-to-be ex-Mayor of New York City, takes credit for a steep decline in the city’s crime rate due to his strict enforcement of the city’s tough gun laws.  But while this may mean that very few city residents own legal guns, research published by Gary Kleck (UCLA Law Review, #56, 2009) indicates that within another few years, the number of illegal guns may exceed the number of adults living within the city.  Imagine that!  The city with the toughest gun laws will also be home to the largest number of guns.  How is that possible?

According to Kleck, roughly 60,000 people move into New York City every year.  He doesn’t know how many people move out of the city each year, he’s just interested in how many move in.  Why?  Because he assumes that they bring guns with them when they show up. In 2000, just under 800,000 NYC residents had been born in another state:

These migrants presumably moved their possessions with them.  If handgun ownership among these migrants was equal to the U.S. average, migrants born in other states would have moved about 260,000 handguns from other states into NYC.

Kleck bases his calculations on the idea that per capita American handgun ownership is .0325 (one-third of a gun for every person.)  But those numbers have changed.  In fact, since the 1980s, handguns have entered the market over long guns by a ratio of two to one.  So the per capita ownership of handguns is probably now close to 0.50.  This being the case, if we follow Kleck’s logic to its ultimate conclusion, the continued migration of people into New York City from 2000 until 2013 means that at least 400,000 new handguns have come into town during the same period. Add this to the 2 million guns that NYPD believe were in the city in 1980, then tack on another 30,000 each year between 1981 and 2000, and we are up to 3 million guns.
If the demographic breakdown of New York City is anything like the national average, there are approximately 2,700,000 males between the ages of 18 and 65 living in the five boroughs right now.  Since very few women own guns, let’s add in the men over the age of 65 and the total is still below the total number of guns floating around the Big Apple.
You don’t have to take my word for it.  Just read Kleck’s article and do the math. New York City is the handgun haven of the United States.  There’s no doubt about it.