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Chris Magyar

Alex Hannaford on the Campus Carry Movement in The Atlantic


For me, the argument that you could prevent another Virginia Tech with more guns is fatuous. Guns are designed for one thing only -- and the more of them there are, the greater the chance of someone getting hurt. Texas Senator Rodney Ellis issued a statement saying the bill would do nothing to improve the safety of students on campus in his state and could, in fact, make dangerous situations more deadly by creating confusion for law enforcement. "We don't need to incentivize campus Rambos," he said.

I couldn't agree more.

Image credit: Chris Keane, Reuters

First of all, it gives me boundless joy that one of my favorite local writers and favorite people in general writes for my favorite magazine. There aren't enough Facebook "like" thumbs on the internet for that.

Secondly, Alex, I'm not sure your argument carries any more water than the pro-gun lobbyists'. Not saying I agree with their incessant push to emphatically legalize firearms on public campuses -- there's a twisted agenda to making a concerted effort to spread gun use, and it icks me out as much as it does you.

However, I think the argument that banning guns on campus will assuage gun violence on campus is akin, rhetorically, to the argument that banning condoms in sex ed class will contribute to abstinence. (I emphasize 'rhetorically', as the moral equivalence is vague at best.) Making it illegal for students to be armed would certainly decrease accidental violence (which, stats?), but I'm not certain it contributes to safety from egregious premeditated violence (any more than pushing through concealed weapon permissions to "incentivize campus Rambos" would).

Carry an unlicensed weapon, you've broken the law. Conceal your licensed weapon, you've broken the law. I can't think of anything more effective than that, on a practical level. Sure, on a theoretical level, one could endlessly debate whether optimal safety would be achieved by a complete absence of guns or a campus population where every student is armed to the teeth (in that argument, I'd side with the former). But the practical world demands that we acknowledge two facts: people have access to guns in America, and gun violence does happen. Legislating from that standpoint demands compromise of the sort we already have. That compromise has been arrived at, and is renewed by both factions continuously pushing at each other in state legislatures.

I fail to see the ominous trend here.


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