The right to defend yourself on campus

 

This is a response to the Minnesota Daily’s Feb. 5 editorial, “Keeping guns off of campus.”

In the piece, the editorial board criticized Rep. Tony Cornish’s plan to extend concealed carry to campuses. However, the editorial board’s critique is not supported by the data or by logic. Banning firearms on campus and making the campus a “gun free zone” does not keep guns off campus any more than the laws banning drugs have kept marijuana off of our streets. There is no shield of safety that magically surrounds our campus. Criminals may ignore the school’s policy and carry weapons on campus regardless of what the Student Code of Conduct states. Indeed, the tragic shooting outside of Centennial Hall in 2010 is a stark reminder that violent criminals will carry weapons on campus regardless of bans.

Thus, this is not a question of “keeping guns off of campus” as the editorial suggests but rather a question of who possesses them. The current policy ensures that only the violent criminals are armed and leaves the law-abiding citizen defenseless. Extending concealed carry to campuses would allow the same trained, licensed individuals who carry concealed firearms off campus to carry on campus.

Contrary to the editorial’s vague assertions, there is no credible evidence to suggest that such a policy would reduce public safety. Minnesota has approximately 115,000 permit holders, and these individuals have proven themselves to be extraordinarily law-abiding. According to a 2000 report by statistician William Sturdevant, permit holders are five times less likely to commit violent crimes compared to the general population.

The Daily editorial board also ignores the fact that Minnesota and other states have instituted concealed carry laws, and there is no credible evidence that such policies worsen public safety. In fact, out of 26 peer-reviewed studies on the topic, none found that expanded concealed carry contributed to increased crime. The majority of those studies actually concluded that concealed carry contributes to a reduction in violent crime. When criminals do not know who could be armed, they are less likely to attack.

There is also the fact that many universities already allow concealed carry on campus. This includes large schools like Colorado State University and several universities in Utah. Contrary to the editorial board’s predictions, these schools have not had a single violent crime attributable to the policy.

Rather than propose an alternative solution to campus safety, the editorial staff denies the failure of current policy and suggests relying on the police. Certainly the police are an important component, but they cannot be everywhere all the time. Cornish understands this better than most, as he is a former police officer. Since there is evidence that extending concealed carry to campuses will not reduce safety and may actually improve it, shouldn’t these licensed and trained individuals have the same right to defend themselves on campus as they have off campus?