Guns on Campus: A Dangerous Proposal

The following op-ed was written by John McNay, the President of the Ohio Conference, and was published yesterday in the Cincinnati Enquirer [http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/11/29/prof-guns-campus-dangerous-proposal/76535598/]:

 

“Ohio House Bill 48, the “Guns Everywhere” bill, would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry handguns in currently restricted places such as airports, day cares and college campuses.

“As university and college faculty, our focus is especially on our campuses, although we are also concerned about this broader proliferation of weapons because it has not been accompanied by any proportionate safeguards against their abuse. Campuses have been gun-free zones because, nationally and historically, the presence of firearms has been regarded as incompatible with the publicly mandated mission of higher education. Everyone should be able to teach and to learn without intimidation or fear. The proponents of “campus carry” suggest that it might pre-empt the still-uncommon incidents of mass murder on campuses. But they ignore the daily toll of knowing that any confrontation, even over routine or petty issues, could much more easily escalate into violence.

“There is no evidence that allowing handguns on campuses actually will help resolve active-shooter situations. Concealed-carry licensees are not trained law enforcement professionals, and mass shootings are highly chaotic events. What happens when many people are drawing firearms and no one knows who the aggressor is? An already chaotic situation will have even greater potential for unintended tragedy. Our campus and city police forces are trained and equipped to deal with these situations. We should depend on them to resolve such tragedies if they do occur.

“Additionally, more access to guns means more stolen guns. Even if permit holders are trusted, one must make the leap also to trust their roommates and other acquaintances. Young men are statistically by far the most dangerous group to have access to guns. In an environment in which testosterone is elevated and alcohol and drug abuse are too prevalent, the potential for misuse of firearms should be terribly obvious.

“HB 48 would let boards of trustees determine “campus carry” policies. Although that provision seems to protect autonomy, universities around the country, including Ohio State, already have been lawsuit targets of gun groups. It would be all too easy for our boards of trustees and administrations to accede to concealed-carry in order to avoid legal headaches, especially since HB 48 would absolve them of any liability that results from incidents involving concealed-carry licensees.

“On November 12, the AAUP, American Federation of Teachers, Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges released a statement strongly supporting efforts to make college campuses as safe and weapon-free as possible for students, faculty, staff, parents, and community members. The UC Student Senate also recently passed a resolution opposing HB 48. There is a vocal minority of university stakeholders who are in favor of campus carry, but they are, in fact, a small minority.

“In his floor speech, HB 48 sponsor Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, highlighted selective statistics about gun violence while ignoring more recent and empirical data that show that concealed-carry laws lead to an increase in violent crimes. Furthermore, Maag defended the provision in his bill that would reduce the degree of offense for carrying in a prohibited area from a felony to a minor misdemeanor, arguing that permit holders might get caught in a gray area, such as walking their child’s forgotten lunch into school. This seems a radical change to address a minor inconvenience. In any case, given the potential for mayhem, we do not believe bringing a gun into a school should be treated the same as a traffic violation.

“The current law has served the state well. HB 48 is trying to fix what isn’t broken.

“If guns are not allowed in the Statehouse, why should they be allowed on our campuses?”

 

 

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