Get Guns Off The Campus!

              Stephen Boss teaches environment courses at the University of Arkansas, a lifelong interest that started when, as a kid, he rode his bike to Martinez, CA where he visited the home once occupied by John Muir. I always thought the most famous person to live in Martinez was Reggie Jackson, but you learn something new all the time. In any case, there’s actually a connection between environmentalism and keeping guns away from college campuses, which is what Stephen’s book is all about. Because as he goes on to explain, a college campus should be regarded as a ‘sanctuary,’ and guns have no place in sanctuaries, something we have always understood.

              Except we don’t understand the connection between sanctuaries and non-violence any more. It used to be the case, for example, that houses of worship, which have been sanctuaries since medieval times, were locations which didn’t welcome guns. The Virginia State Senate just passed a bill which repeals a law dating from Colonial times that makes it a misdemeanor to bring a gun or any other kind of weapon into a ‘place of worship,’ and several other states grant legal sanction to concealed-carry inside a synagogue or a church.

              It would be easy blame the rupture between non-violence and sanctuary on the NRA’s efforts to spread the gospel of armed, self-defense. Unfortunately, this is not the whole story by any means. Several of the worst, mass shootings over the last several years occurred in religious facilities – first in Charleston, SC then Sutherland Springs, TX and most recently in Pittsburgh, PA. And even though as many as 100 million Americans attend a peaceful religious service every weekend, when it comes to fears about gun violence, it’s never the numbers that count.

              What Stephen has done is take the data which is generated each year by the Clery Act, a federal law which requires that every college and university receiving any kind of federal aid, including federal loan monies received by students, report campus crime every year. He has examined this data covering college homicides from 2001 to 2016, and lo and behold, it turns out that colleges happen to be very peaceful places. In fact, over the period 2001 to 2016, there was an aggregate total of just slightly less than 370 million people (faculty, students, staff) on college campuses, of whom 279 were criminally killed.  Which means that the college homicide rate is somewhere around 76 times lower than the national homicide rate overall.

              Realistically, the number is lower than that. Because of the 219 incidents which resulted in 279 deaths, 40 of these homicides were the result of two mass shootings at Umpqua Community College and Virginia Tech.  Pull these events out of the overall numbers, precisely because they were so different from what usually occurs, and the degree to which college campuses are possibly the safest environments where large numbers of people gather is much greater still.

              Where I think Stephen’s book needs a somewhat wider perspective is understanding why Gun-nut Nation has been making such a big push to break down colleges as sanctuaries and give all those young kids the right to walk around their alma mater with a gun.

              To begin with, the Guns on Campus movement is part of the effort to eliminate all gun-free zones. And the reason that gun-free zones are so anathema to the gun industry is because a prohibition on firearms in a public space creates the impression that guns aren’t safe. And that’s the last thing that gun makers would want you to believe.

              But there’s a somewhat more nuanced issue about gun-free campuses, which is the fact that college-educated kids, for the most part, won’t become adults who end up owning or using guns. Try as they might, the attempt by conservatives to rid college campuses of the noxious weeds of liberalism hasn’t worked. And generally speaking, liberals don’t particularly like guns. If they did, the extremely scant numbers produced by Stephen Boss on college homicides would probably go way up.

Buy this book here.

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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?

 

 

Of All Places – A University In Gun-Rich West Virginia Bans Guns.

            “The possession and/or use of any dangerous weapons is strictly forbidden on university property. Weapons include but are not limited to the following: Firearms, BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, blowguns, bows and/or arrows, dangerous knives, firecrackers, ammunition, and other explosive material. Possession of the above will result in the immediate suspension from the residence halls, and may also result in expulsion and possible legal action.”

WLU           Folks, this isn’t from the student manual at Berkeley, or Johns Hopkins, or Harvard, or some other bastion of liberalism where students are taught first and foremost to be politically correct in everything they do or say.  This is from the student manual from West Liberty University which happens to be located in Wheeling, West Virginia. Now don’t confuse West Liberty University with Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by one of America’s most successful televangelists, the late jerry Falwell, which prepares its students, according to the school’s website, to become a ‘Champion for Christ.’

West Liberty University was founded in 1837, at a time when the state hadn’t yet been admitted to the Union, but its location at the far western corner of West Virginia meant that it was considered to be the westernmost spot where liberty and justice was guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence.  The school was actually started to provide a liberal arts education to the Appalachian region, which it has done from then up until the present day.

So the school is quite different in terms of culture and content from what goes on at Liberty University in Lynchburg, and nowhere is this difference more apparent than as regards the issue of guns. Because you may recall that our illustrious Republican Presidential Pretender, Donald the Shlump, made an appearance at Liberty University back in January, misquoted the Scripture but still managed to give the University a big pat on the back because the University President, Jerry Falwell Jr., is an unabashed supporter of anyone and everyone who wants to walk around his campus carrying a gun.  He went so far as to say back last December that if more people had been carrying guns in San Bernardino, that the Muslims could have been ‘killed’ before they walked in the door.

Falwell’s message evidently hasn’t gone over very well with the Board and Administration at West Liberty University in the neighboring state. In fact, the decision to ban all guns from the campus, even guns locked away in automobiles, was in response to recent mass shootings on college campuses and elsewhere, and I quote the University President’s statement right here: “We want our students to feel safe, secure, and comfortable. I don’t know how comfortable someone would feel knowing that someone on campus is carrying a dangerous weapon.”

So when it comes to college campuses and guns, the veritable cat has finally been let out of the veritable bag, namely, this school has decided that all of the NRA and Gun-nut Nation crap about how guns in the hands of civilians protect us from crime is simply not true.  And furthermore, this enlightened University administration is equally unimpressed by the other Gun-nut Nation crap about the lure of gun-free zones.

What really prompted West Liberty University to promote and enforce its campus ban on guns was the recent constitutional-carry law in the Mountain State which basically means that anyone who can legally own a gun in West Virginia can also walk around armed.  The bill was originally vetoed by the Governor but the Legislature overlooked opposition from the law enforcement community and told Governor Tomblin to stick his veto you know where.

The Administration and Board of West Liberty University, a school located in what is probably one of the most gun-rich states, had the intelligence, common sense and leadership to decide that guns and education simply don’t mix.  College-age students often drink, they sometimes get depressed, and most of all, they sometimes do silly and impulsive things.

Go Hilltoppers! When it comes to a gun-free campus, let’s hope your message spreads.

 

Trump May Think That Liberty University Is No Longer A Gun-Free Zone, But He’s Wrong.

Because repetition is the key to good teaching, I’ll say it again.  Donald Trump represents the single, biggest and most menacing threat to GVP since there was a GVP.  And if you don’t believe me (which of course you do), take a look at the current newsstand issue of Time Magazine, which contains an article about how Trump is making inroads into the Evangelical community, using as his point-man, Jerry Falwell, Jr.  And the article states that after Falwell declared that Liberty University students could carry guns on campus, he received a personal phone call from Trump who congratulated him on the new policy and told him not to “apologize” for it to anyone.

trump2            Now in fact the Liberty University policy is not quite as broad as the campus-crazy crazies would like.  It ‘amends’ the long-standing prohibition against guns on the LU campus, and replaces it with a new policy which vests responsibility for deciding whether students over the age of 21 can bring a gun onto campus with the University police.  The operative phrase from the new policy is: “members of the University community that are over 21 with concealed weapons permits can seek permission from LUPD to carry concealed weapons ON CAMPUS and store them in their locked vehicles.”

Oops!  This is exactly what the CCW movement is against. It’s a “may issue” policy, which means that the cops determine who carries and who does not.  And it goes further because the policy expressly forbids students from carrying or storing weapons in dorms and ‘residence halls.’  So unless I don’t know how to read English, and the last time I checked I believe I do know how to read English, the report from NBC News and other media which stated that Liberty University students could bring guns into their dorms is simply not true.  And if you want to double-check what I just said, you can download the LU gun policy here and pay particular attention to Section 3D.

Why?  Because even a student who holds a valid CCW license is prohibited from bringing a gun into a dormitory and there are no exceptions to this rule. And note one other issue about the LU guns-on-campus policy: it applies only to individuals who possess a CCW issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and no exceptions here either, including that phony state-reciprocity nonsense that scam websites all over the country advertise as being the next best thing to a national, CCW law.  The University doesn’t break down its on-campus enrollment on a state-by-state basis, but it does claim that its residential population represents all 50 states as well as 85 countries worldwide. Which means that under the ‘revised’ guns-on-campus policy, none of these students can bring a gun onto campus at all.

There’s one aspect of the policy that deserves mention.  Here’s the University’s official response to the following question:  What Should I Do If I Notice Someone Carrying a Weapon? “You are encouraged to call the University Police, give a description of the individual, and location. You may remain anonymous. A police officer will be dispatched to locate and contact the person to confirm that they are lawfully carrying the weapon.”  In other words, anyone who brings a gun onto the LU campus could, at any time, be challenged by the University police. Let me break it to you gently folks, this is hardly what the campus-carry gang has in mind.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the Liberty University policy on campus guns is either enlightened or benign.  What I am saying is that we have someone running for President who is trying to gain an electoral advantage by taking the most extreme positions on guns that have ever been injected into a national election and, in the process, trying to make people believe that concealed-carry of guns is a new normal that needs to be invoked at every turn.

And that’s why Trump is the biggest menace to GVP of all time.

Everytown Starts Their Own ‘March Madness’ Campaign And May All The Teams Lose.

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.

march                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.

Gun Trafficking in America - cover