No, Idaho, Letting Students and Professors Have Guns Won’t Make Campuses Safer
Idaho lawmakers on March 6 approved a measure allowing concealed guns to be carried onto university and college campuses.
What on earth were they thinking?
The legislation cleared the state House of Representatives by a 50-19 vote and was overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate last month; it is likely to be signed into law by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.
This will make Idaho the seventh U.S. state that allows guns on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
After so many shootings at schools, movie theaters and other public places, what were those lawmakers in Idaho thinking?
Under the legislation, those who gain a so-called enhanced concealed-carry permit in Idaho can carry firearms on campus except in such places as residence halls and public entertainment facilities like football stadiums.
Anyone who passes an eight-hour gun training course provided by a National Rifle Association instructor would be eligible to apply for the permit.
Boise State University President Bob Kustra fought to see the bill defeated, claiming it would endanger college-age students as well as younger students who visit the school.
But — surprise, surprise! — Republican lawmakers sponsoring the legislation and the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association supporting it argued that it would enhance campus safety and bolster gun rights spelled out in the U.S. constitution.
This fascinating response to the decision came from a professor at Idaho State:
I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.
I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.
I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?
In response to a similar incident in Dunblane, Scotland, the U.K. banned handguns altogether. The result was not an increase in such incidents — rather no such incident has happened since the 1996 shooting.
More guns doesn’t mean more safety, particularly on campus. Just another dumb law.
And as a teacher, I find this terrifying. I don’t know how you would be an effective teacher if you had to worry about guns in the hands of “kids” who often feel their whole lives balance on a single grade, or single relationship, or single mistake.
It’s possible I am biased since I grew up in the U.K., but let’s look at some facts here:
The Guardian reports that the U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. England and Wales, by comparison have an average of 6.2 per 100 people. As a result, 31,347 Americans were killed by guns in 2009, while the 2008 figure for the UK was 39.
The NRA is undoubtedly one of the most powerful lobbying organisations in the U.S., and it is not hesitant to divert campaign contributions to defeat advocates of gun control.
All of this means that the decision by the Idaho legislature is terrifying.
More guns do not make for a safer world; it’s actually quite the opposite.
Photo Credit: formatted_dad