Many states have passed laws allowing students to carry weapons (concealed or otherwise) onto college campuses. Governor Greg Abbott in Texas signed a “campus carry” bill despite the written protests from the chancellor of the nine-school University of Texas system, not to mention the warnings from safety advocates. Our position on this is the same as always: Guns on campus will only lead to more anger shootings and more deaths, while doing little to nothing to prevent mass shootings.
Campus carry laws are going to have another unintended side effect: They can cloak a shooter. Before, if someone spotted someone walking through the parking lot with a gun, they knew something was amiss. Now, anyone who sees this is forced to assume that this person is merely expressing his idea of second amendment rights. It takes away the ability to spot danger earlier by blurring the differences between student and threat.
Rick Jervis writes that “Daniel Hamermesh, a DT professor emeritus of economics, said he won’t return next year to teach his Introduction to Microeconomics class. He teaches the class in an auditorium with 500 students, and it’s a subject he’s taught for nearly five decades. Along the way he’s faced plenty of irate students who were disgruntled about grades or other things. An angry student with a holstered handgun creates a potential threat he’s not willing to face.” (Jervis, 10-19-2015) He adds that this may have a chilling effect on teachers who are more intimidated by their students. Quality professors like him may even drop out of the profession altogether.
Such fears are hardly unfounded. When Jessica Jin decided to protest the campus carry law by having a rally to carry sex toys on campus, she received a slurry of angry backlash and death threats from pro-gun advocates. You know, those very same people we’re supposed to trust to be the perfectly sane “good guys” out to protect the public. Apparently, whether gun owners are protectors or terrorists depends on whether or not they agree with what you are saying. “People want me dead for a (sex toy),” Jin told the Houston Chronicle, amazed at the absurdity of it all.
Welcoming guns into the turbocharged atmosphere of college – one which includes a lot of drinking, a lot of drugs, and a lot of young, insecure, impulsive people – is a horrible decision, and students are in more danger because of it.
Legislation That Should Be Enacted
Adopting some of the more restrictive laws that exist in other countries (such as banning handguns or semi-automatic weapons except for those who have a legitimate reason to use them) would cut gun deaths to a tiny sliver of what they are today. In the current climate, however, such actions are unlikely. Here are some measures that could be enacted to protect current gun ownership while reducing the misuse of guns:
Make it illegal to store a gun in an unlocked and loaded state
So far 27 states along with the District of Columbia have enacted laws that penalize gun owners who leave their weapons in a place accessible to kids. In the 12 states where such measures have been enacted for at least a year, accidental shooting deaths involving children under 13 fell by 23%. (Moninger, 2013)
Immediately reverse gun carry laws
There is absolutely no justification for the average citizen to carry guns around with them wherever they go. As previously discussed, the odds of nefarious gun use outweigh the odds of legitimate self-defense nearly 1,000 to 1. We wouldn’t take such tradeoffs in a morality game, and we shouldn’t accept this cost as a country, either, just to placate to the delusions of gun owners. It should be illegal for people to carry loaded firearms, period.
Put a limit on magazine capacity
As previously discussed, there is no legitimate reason a person needs more than 10 rounds in a clip unless they plan on starting a war. Limiting all guns to a magazine capacity no bigger than 10 or 12 could be done very simply without having to change gun design, and it would save countless lives.
Institute heavy ammunition taxes
Ammunition should be subjected to a heavy tax, much like cigarettes. While this wouldn’t be a popular measure, we see it as one of the most useful, and there are ways to do it without damaging the ability of the average citizen to own guns. For example…
Create an exemption for ammunition used at shooting ranges, so that people could still practice as much as they want under safe conditions. It might put a damper on people who want to shoot at road signs or engage in target practice in public parks or their backyard, but those aren’t safe and responsible practices to begin with.
Tax certain types of ammunition above others. You could keep hunting rounds relatively inexpensive while taxing handgun ammunition & assault weapons significantly.
The point would be to make it substantially more expensive to use bullets under inappropriate situations. While this may not prevent mass shootings, if a 9mm handgun costs $20 or $30 per round, it would significantly reduce gang violence without dis-incentivizing those who might want to keep a gun for self-protection. You can still target shoot at a range for whatever it costs today, but it SHOULD be expensive for individuals to use their guns within the community – something that under most situations is not even a once in a lifetime event.
Close the “boyfriend loophole”
Currently, people convicted of domestic violence are prohibited from owning a gun, but this typically does not apply to boyfriends or girlfriends who beat their mate. Since demographics have changed and people are staying single for much longer, extending this protection might protect some women from interpersonal violence. “Boyfriends are becoming an increasingly large proportion of those who commit intimate-partner homicides,” says Shannon Frattaroli, associate professor of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Gun Policy & Research. (Welch, 2010)