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October 13, 2008

The Old West Mentality

In the aftermath of recent shooting tragedies at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, much attention has been focused on the policies of colleges and universities concerning the carrying of concealed handguns by students and faculty.

The group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) has insisted that the only way to address future shooting sprees is to eliminate “gun-free zones.” They seek revisions in state laws to force colleges and universities to allow concealed handguns on their campuses. In active shooters situations, SCCC advocates that concealed carry permit holders present on the scene take charge of the situation before trained law enforcement officers arrive. In their view, “the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying. That’s why the police bring so many guns with them when they respond to a report of ‘shots fired.’

The problem is that this directly contradicts the actual advice of campus police across the country, such as that of University of Cincinnati Police Chief Gene Ferrara, who said, "I don't think the answer to bullets flying is to send more bullets flying. My belief is we ought to be focusing on what we do to prevent the shooting from starting." University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson concurred, stating, “I don’t know if society is quite ready for the Old West mentality to come back. How are police to know who the bad guy or good guy is [after responding to an active shooter situation]?

SCCC’s “More Bullets” philosophy isn’t even endorsed by the 11 colleges and universities where concealed carry is allowed on campus. The Colorado State University Police Department has created a pamphlet titled “Handguns on Campus: Do You Have the Facts?” with a section on “Active Shooter Response.” Their recommendations for concealed carry permit holders? For those directly involved in an active shooter situation and unable to exit the building, they advise the following:

1. Go to the nearest room or office.
2. Close and lock the door.
3. Turn off the lights.
4. Seek protective cover. This may be under a desk or table or anywhere else that offers some concealment.
5. Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room.
6. Do not answer the door.
7. Notify 911, if it is safe to do so.
8. Wait for law enforcement officers to assist you out of the building.

They also emphasize that their officers “receive specialized training for active shooter situations,” unlike the day-class of general handgun safety training typically required of concealed carry permit holders (if they are required by their state to have training at all). Louisiana State University Police Department spokesman Major Lawrence Rabalais recently stressed the same point when Guns on Campus legislation was considered in his state, noting that his officers repeat firearm training twice a year and participate in seminars about how to keep control of their gun during a confrontation.

The Virginia Tech Review Panel was equally clear on this matter in their final report, stating, “If numerous people had been rushing around with handguns outside Norris Hall on the morning of April 16, the possibility of accidental or mistaken shootings would have increased significantly.

SCCC might argue that their lack of training is acceptable because concealed carry permit holders are not meant to “act like amateur, one-man SWAT teams,” but what else would you call it when individual students make unilateral decisions about whether to use lethal force in crisis situations where the potential for collateral damage is enormous?

As Chief Ferrara noted above, as opposed to turning our classrooms into war zones, the logical solution is to enact tougher gun laws to ensure that unstable persons (such as Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak) are unable to obtain lethal weapons with which to ravage our schools. For that reason, we are happy that there are students actively opposing SCCC’s agenda, including those in Students for Gun Free Schools (SGFS), an organization founded by victims and survivors of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

59 comments:

  1. I am a member and president of a campus SCCC group in Indiana. I do not know how else to get people to understand that gun bans only impact the law abiding. Criminals (they are people who disobey the law) can still get guns off the street and use them against people like you and me. You may not care about your safety and wish to rely on the police and throwing textbooks at a shooter. I, however, have the right to protect myself. If that means using my personal weapon to defend my life than I have the right under The Constitution of the United States of America and am backed by the US Supreme court to take that action. The ONLY thing we need is for the state to pass a law stating that I can carry my weapon and I promise that when it takes effect that I will carry my concealed handgun every single day I am on campus so that I can increase my chances of survival in a shooting. A shoot out is far better than another VT/NIU style massacre.

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  2. I think this is great. Your point about the SCCC's claim regarding their lack of training is right on. They cannot claim that they aren't supposed to have the training of law enforcement, because they are every day people, and then claim they should be able to do something that truly does require law enforcement training. It doesn't make any sense. I wouldn't try to give CPR to someone if I was untrained, because I realize I don't have the same training as a medic and I could potentially make the situation worse. Their idea of vigilante justice is so far from grounded that it's almost fantasy like. When it comes to guns I would rather think along the lines of fact and evaluative ideas such as those provided by Colorado University's Police Department, than fantasy.

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  3. Jeffrey Tyson, Cowboys for Concealed Carry on CampusOctober 13, 2008 at 1:27 PM

    One thing that this article fails to mention is the right for people to protect themselves. Leaving out the second ammendment, people still have the right to keep others from harming them. There are only two ways of doing this, and you can pick them up at any basic sociology or psychology class: fight or flight.

    First i'd like to talk about flight. Contrary to what this article makes the reader believe, it is NOT the position of SCCC to tell people that fleeing is not an acceptable option. In fact, nearly every member you talk to (if you were to actually talk to them) would tell you that getting out of harms way is their first priority. Flight, however, is not always an option, especially in a classroom setting.

    Lets look at nature for a second. I am not going to say that this holds true for all animals, but for most: when you scare an animal, they run; if you corner an animal, and they can't escape, they attack. Almost always an animal will avoid a fight unless it has (in its mind) no alternative.

    Now we can talk about the fight aspect. Any person with common sense will tell you that there is only one way to win a fight: overpower your apponent. You simply can't win a fight with a gunman if all you have is a book to throw at him, or a swiss army knife keychain to stab him with. These items might be helpfull in a hand-to-hand combat situation, but not effective against a gunman.

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  4. Preventative action is a great idea. Finding the problems with students before they take extreme action (Virginia tech, NIU, etc.) should be our first line of defense.

    HOWEVER, can the University guarantee that this will stop ALL students from going on a rampage? The answer is No.

    The University can not guarantee my safety because they cant stop the actions of their students with help programs. Although it might help some, it cant guarantee that some bad apples wont slip through the cracks.

    By allowing Licensed Individuals to carry on campus is not changing anything. These folks are law abiding citizens that carry virtually everywhere else they go.

    When a CHL carrier goes to campus, they have to disarm themselves to walk across that imaginary line.

    Campuses cant afford to put an officer in every classroom and on every walkway, and thats they ONLY way that they can guarantee our safety.

    I would feel a lot safer knowing that some of my peers that are Licensed to carry their firearm, were allowed to do so on campus.

    It's another line of defense, and in the case of the Virginia Tech attack, it could have saved 31-32 lives.

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  5. Blake, thanks for your comment. Your assertion that you are backed by the U.S. Constitution in your quest to carry a concealed handgun on your campus, however, is patently wrong.

    Justice Scalia was perfectly clear on this matter in the recent 5-4 majority opinion in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, writing:

    "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    As for the assertion that tough gun laws do not prevent criminals from gaining access to firearms, available data tells us otherwise.

    Our country has a far higher homicide rate and gun death rate than industrialized democracies like Britain, Japan, Canada and Australia which have enacted sensible gun laws to properly screen gun purchasers.

    Even within our own country, the latest CDC data shows that the five states with the lowest rates of gun death per capita (New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii) are all states with tough gun laws. The five states with the highest rates of gun death per capita? They are Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee, and Alabama - all states with very weak gun laws.

    When individuals like Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak are able to legally purchase firearms time and time again in our country, it is a warning sign that we need serious reform at the federal and state level to ensure that individuals with obvious and longstanding histories of mental illness are not able to buy guns. That is a prevention strategy that will save countless lives in the years ahead and stop shootings from happening in the first place. - CSGV

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  6. stopgunviolence:

    Justice Scalia and the SCOTUS while deserving of respect due to their positions of authority are not equivalent to the United States Constitution. They interpret the document. . . true. But, the interpretation of this document has been known to change from time to time. The major point addressed by the ruling was whether or not the second applied to individuals. And, the court decided that it does. The fact that the court chose not to phrase their decision in such a way as to disallow geographic restrictions to firearms, is likely a sign of respect for states and localities. This has often been the case in SCOTUS decisions. It is important to note that the language does not specifically condone these bans, even though they are likewise not condemned. It is my opinion that this is intentional.

    "Our country has a far higher homicide rate and gun death rate than industrialized democracies like Britain, Japan, Canada and Australia. . ." I challenge you to prove that the homicide rate is due to the availability of firearms and that these deaths would not have occurred by some other means. Are you sure that firearms laws are the problem? It's not due to poverty, education level, media, religion, or some other factor? How do you know? Do you know that many Europeans, for example, commit suicide by hanging themselves rather than with firearms? According to your reasoning, perhaps the government should disallow the use of rope, and decrease the suicide rate. Also, Britain already had a lower rate than the US before they instituted the "tough gun laws" you are touting. So it seems that correlation does not mean causation in this case.

    I don't think that the main problem is that "individuals like Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak are able to legally purchase firearms time and time again in our country." They weren't legally able to carry these weapons where they did, so that should have stopped them, right? Obviously not. What makes you think that these two particular people wouldn't be able to acquire a firearm were that illegal too?

    I would be interested to see your information about tough gun laws and how they prevent criminals from obtaining weapons. I am currently in doubt as to whether this data shows a correlation or causation.

    It is impossible to control the sale of weapons in a free society. What can be controlled is whether or not law abiding people may legally defend themselves.

    I wonder if we were in a classroom (usually these have no reliable means of escape) where a shooter had come in, if you would be willing to protect yourself or others by trying to immediately stop the threat in the only way possible at that point. I think you would. I think most people would. It's too long to wait for the police to arrive. Personally, I would prefer that the shooter be killed rather than more innocent students. I would hate the hopeless feeling of having to just sit there and watch it happen, which is what has happened repeatedly in our schools. But, I would applaud you were you to shoot the aggressor -- you would have saved my life.

    Why do you think multiple homicide killings are happening in schools specifically?

    I appreciate some of the thoughtful treatment of the subject, although I hope that folks will entertain the ideas that that I have put forth.

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  7. Thanks for your comment, Logical Thinker. We agree with you - and the Virginia Tech Review Panel - that providing counseling and treatment to students with mental health issues is a critical step in prevention. As the Panel pointed out, so is preventing gun sales to individuals with established histories of mental illness, whether those sales occur through federally licensed dealers or unregulated private sales.

    As for whether campus police are able to guarantee the safety of students, it should be pointed out that our nation's colleges and universities are currently some of the safest places in all of America in terms of homicide rates, and that is certainly due in part to their strict policies concerning firearms. To their credit, campus law enforcement has done a terrific job to date in protecting our nation's students.

    You might personally feel safer knowing that individuals in your classroom might be carrying concealed firearms. Other students would not. That's why we agree with the Virginia Tech Review Panel that it is the right of every institution of higher education to regulate the possession of firearms on campus - without interference by state legislators under pressure from the gun lobby. - CSGV

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  8. Thank you for your comment, Boom Chick. We can appreciate that you personally have a different view of our Constitution, but Justice Scalia - writing for the conservative justices in the majority in the Heller case - made it perfectly clear that laws regulating the carrying of concealed weapons in public are both reasonable and constitutional.

    We are unsure as to what demographic factors you think are so exceptional in other industrialized democracies, but it is clear that other nations have indeed been able to effectively control the sale of firearms in their countries.

    The numbers provide a stark and disturbing contrast:

    Total # of Homicides in 2004: Australia 305, Canada 622, England 853, USA 16,148.

    Total # of Gun Homicides in 2004: Australia 53, Canada 172, England 68, USA 11,624.

    Total # of Gun Deaths in 2004: Australia 289, Canada 743, England 191, USA 29,569.

    Citizens in these nations are every bit as free as we are, and far safer. That is in large part due to sensible laws that prevent criminals and the mentally ill from gaining access to firearms.

    As to your assertion that Americans shouldn't be concerned that Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak legally bought firearms on multiple occasions because they later broke the law by bringing these guns onto campus, we find that logic sequentially flawed and curious.

    Both individuals had long and established histories of mental illness and should never have been able to purchase firearms. These histories would have been revealed by even a cursory check into their background by local law enforcement. We can do much better at protecting our communities.

    As for your scenario of the heroic concealed carry permit holder rising to down the Bad Guy with a few simple shots, we believe that is wishful thinking. These crises were marked by panic and utter chaos (with students fleeing for their lives), and like the Virginia Tech Review Panel and campus law enforcement across the country, we are deeply concerned about the potential for collateral damage.

    As for your assertion that multiple homicides are happening in our schools specifically, they are not. Multiple gun homicides are happening every day in this country outside of college campuses. As we pointed out earlier, the data shows that the homicide rate on college campuses is far lower than the rate in America as whole. In 2003, there were 11,920 total gun homicides in the United States, but only 10 total murders on America’s college campuses.- CSGV

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  9. How could these laws only apply to law abiding citizens? In the current system individuals intending to commit crimes can enter a gun show and purchase guns without background checks! Our system is faulty -- seen with Cho's accessibility to guns. The solution is not more guns on campus, it's fixing these weak parts of our legislature.

    "A shoot out is far better than another... massacre" -- I beg to disagree. Any loss of life is tragic when we can take measures to prevent any of this to happen. Open your eyes.

    As a longtime Republican and hunter, I know I will not be affected by ANY of these proposals.

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  10. i hate picking namesOctober 14, 2008 at 3:23 PM

    Here we go:

    "I am a member and president of a campus SCCC group in Indiana. I do not know how else to get people to understand that gun bans only impact the law abiding."

    How? What effect does banning guns on a college campus have on law abiding citizens? Just that they can't use guns while on a college campus? Um. If cigarettes, which are legal, were banned on a college campus I really don't think it'd affect the law abiding citizens. Just go smoke on your own time. You are no less allowed to own guns, which is what it says in the constitution... the right to bear arms. Regulations on where, when, etc. have always been allowed. see: http://www.heritage.org/Research/LegalIssues/wm1775.cfm#_ftn7

    which says restrictions are allowed for public safety.

    Even the latest Supreme Court case DC v. Heller allows for having a gun in one's home.

    "Criminals (they are people who disobey the law) can still get guns off the street and use them against people like you and me."

    Law abiding citizens can still get guns off the street and use them against people like you and me. Your point about "criminals" is irrelevant. Law abiding citizens can think you or I are a dangerous terrorist and if they have a concealed weapon, law abiding citizens could use them on us. Cho was a law abiding citizen until he wasn't.

    "You may not care about your safety and wish to rely on the police and throwing textbooks at a shooter. I, however, have the right to protect myself."

    You may not care about my safety and my right to not get shot by a massive amount of flying bullets and wish to cling to your bullet throwing machine to make everything all better, I, however, have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, like everyone else.

    You know, including my life. Which you don't have the right to take. Even accidentally.

    By the way, please stop using hyperbolic attacks to get your points across. If you have a good argument use it, but "hmph! you don't care about me!" is not very useful.

    "If that means using my personal weapon to defend my life than I have the right under The Constitution of the United States of America and am backed by the US Supreme court to take that action."

    You're allowed to use your gun in your home to defend yourself and your property, as per DC v. Heller.

    Otherwise why not use a knife as your personal weapon? Or a bat? Or a crowbar? You are restricted from using GUNS in certain places. Period. Always will be.

    You have the right to self-defense, yes, but brandishing your glock and firing off loads does not self-defense make. It might make someone look like a badass but in a situation wherein you really NEED to defend yourself, the last thing you're going to want to do is fire off your weapon in a closed-off area where you'll possibly hurt others. Unless you're insane, in which case I do not support your right to gun ownership as it conflicts with everyone's right to life and safety.

    "The ONLY thing we need is for the state to pass a law stating that I can carry my weapon and I promise that when it takes effect that I will carry my concealed handgun every single day I am on campus so that I can increase my chances of survival in a shooting."

    WHAT? You may carry your weapon, it shouldn't be allowed to be carried in certain places, but you're allowed to have a weapon.

    Have you been trained to fire weapons? Do you shoot at targets often? Does everyone at every college do the same? If everyone is panicking would they all be able to hit the right person? Everyone will have guns so how will you know which one is the "bad" shooter. Bad meaning the one shooting people a few seconds before you start shooting people.

    How are you ensured to survive in a shooting by carrying a thing that propagates bullets flying?

    I wouldn't carry around cigarettes to prevent smoking.

    What if someone shoots you accidentally? Or you "get" the "bad guy" but oops, look at all the casualties.

    Prove to me that thousands of students are equipped to handle guns properly, and then prove to me that thousands of students are equipped to handle guns properly in a mass panic situation. My life and safety hang in the balance. Letting people run wild in an enclosed space with the bullet-launcher of their choice will endanger thousands of people, unless they are all trained on those two things. But you'll argue, there's no law that says they have to be trained, just that they can have guns. And I'll say, yes, they may have guns in their home, and other places are legally restricted by laws and the Supreme Court. The right to safety, security, and to "be let alone" are paramount to liberty and I'm not willing to give that up for anything.

    "A shoot out is far better than another VT/NIU style massacre."

    How so? MORE bullets flying is better than less bullets flying? My friend was already shot in the face and arm from one guy doing the shooting, imagine how many more injuries would be inflicted if everyone had guns. You're kidding yourself if you really think that any type of shooting is an ideal shooting.

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  11. stopgunviolence~

    So, you have some numbers...yay. Now, prove to use that those gun related deaths were all caused by individuals WITH a permit to carry a handgun. Bullets end gun violence...if I had to shoot someone to stop them from shooting I would not hesitate. Guns are the great equalizer...I will kill someone with a gun if they are threatening to do the same to me, my family, my friends, and my classmates. Again, it is about my safety...you may choose to rely on police and other measures that are just useless in a school shooting. Show up with the National Guard to a school shooting...does not change that a person took lives. It is about safety in the immediate kill zone...please tell us, now you have to use your imagination, but please tell us what you would do if you are in a room, a person comes in, points there gun around and starts firing. Are you going to sit there and yell at them "um, excuse me sir/ma'am, you can't have that gun in here...its dangerous!! NOOOO...please dont sho........."? I want gun violence to end...but, it won't if law abiding citizens like me are not allowed to defend themselves. I am sorry, but we can not rely on the government for everything...security being one of the the most important issues.

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  12. You really need not look at the statistics (FBI) regarding legal gun owners.

    Gun owners are more honest and law abiding than the rest of the nation as a whole. You are less likely to have any problems around a campus full of these people than any place else in the country. Crime rates as a whole are lower where they carry concealed. So any fears you express are unfounded and irrational.

    I ask you this... if some nut job that is set on killing as many people as possible were wandering around the campus, going room to room executing everyone in these rooms, would you rather have someone next to you hiding under a desk peeing them self in fear. Crying and trying to make one last cell phone call to a loved one before they die...

    Or would you rather have someone trained in self defense licensed by your state with a loaded gun at the ready to stop the criminal when they enter the room?

    Chose but chose wisely as your life may depend on it one day!

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  13. One of Many, the argument here is not that guns cause crime, it is that they make crime and suicide more lethal. And what the numbers bear out is that states with liberal concealed carry laws have higher rates of gun death per capita. In fact, in 2005, of the 30 states with the highest rates of gun death per capita, 29 have "shall-issue" concealed carry laws (CDC data, WISQARS tool). As previously mentioned, the six states with the lowest rates of gun death per capita all have far stricter policies concerned concealed carry (CT, NY, NJ, RI, MA, HI).

    As for data about law-abiding gun owners and concealed carry permit holders specifically, we would love to see comprehensive data in that area. Unfortunately, it is now nearly impossible to obtain, because many states have passed National Rifle Association-drafted laws that prohibit the public and researchers from accessing even basic data about permit holders.

    In those rare occasions when there have been audits of permit holders and their backgrounds, the results have been disturbing.

    CSGV publishes a series of blogs entitled "Ordinary People" that looks at the gun lobby's unsubstantiated claim that concealed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding citizens in our country (it can be accessed on the left-side toolbar on this webpage). We have documented numerous instances where permit holders have engaged in reckless and criminal acts, including mass murder and the slaying of law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, we are finding more of these incidents than we are able to blog on.

    As for the answer to your last question, we agree with the Virginia Tech Review Panel and campus law enforcement across the country and would not want anyone with a day-class in handgun training (if their state requires training at all) taking the law into their own hands and opening fire in a classroom during a crisis (or non-crisis) situation. - CSGV

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  14. Thanks for your latest comment, Blake. Unfortunately, the firing of bullets simply leads to additional gun violence in our society. By definition, gun violence will never cease until the shooting stops. That is why SCCC's "More Bullets in the Air" strategy is unlikely to enhance public safety.

    We realize that this is about your safety, that much is clear. But if you are going to act on behalf of your classmates, as you suggest, you might want to ask them if they want your protection in the first place. Polls suggest that most Americans believe concealed handguns have no place on our college campuses.

    Finally, a society that rejects government as a provider of security is an anarchy. Americans are unlikely to embrace a system of vigilante justice, where those with the quickest (or most lethal) guns enforce the law as they see fit. - CSGV

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  15. "...imagine how many more injuries would be inflicted if everyone had guns."

    First, not 'everyone' will have guns...just those who have a permit to carry and the criminal needing to be killed.

    Also, comparing guns to cigarettes is completely irrelevant. Someone can throw cigarettes at me all day long...but, it just takes one bullet to cause me harm. Therefore, yes, more bullets flying is the answer or else police would not carry guns (or are they just that much more important than me that they can carry their gun and not do a damn thing to protect me when I am in a classroom with people around me getting murdered...)

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  16. Jeffrey Tyson, thank you for your comment. We are encouraged by your assertion that fleeing is an acceptable option in an active shooter situation.

    But while you apparently believe that getting out of harm's way should be a concealed carry permit holder's first priority, there is absolutely nothing on SCCC's website to indicate they agree with you.

    Their official position, that "the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying," will certainly not encourage any armed student to retreat from a potential confrontation. It could in fact lead them to escalate violence in certain situations in a manner that is totally unnecessary and dangerous.

    In any case, there is no indication whatsoever that the trained law enforcement officers who are charged with protecting our nation's campuses are eager to have armed students sending more bullets flying during crisis situations. - CSGV

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  17. Stopgunviolence: Where in SCCC's policy is there a "more bullets flying in the air policy?" I am a member of SCCC, indeed a campus leader, and yet never have I seen, heard, or adhered to this policy. The points that SCCC are trying to make are two-fold:

    (1) In an active-shooter scenario, where a shooter enters a classroom and begins shooting, there is simply no worse scenario than everyone in the room being unarmed except the active shooter. Several times on this blog I've read that somehow an armed citizen will make the situation worse. I simply cannot fathom this. From VT and NIU we know, and common sense dictates, that police are not going to show up in time to diffuse the situation. We also know that unfettered, an active shooter can systematically kill as many people as he or she wants without obstacle. If there is a person with a CCW in that classroom, at least there is some chance less people will die. Will there be a crossfire with the chance of other casualties? - sure - but that prospect is surely better that the systematic killing of large group of people. Others will argue "what if the police show up, how will they know who the bad guy is?" The answer to this is they won't - and it doesn't matter. The average gun-incident is over in 10 seconds, and police response clearly isn't that good. Even if it was, that's a chance I'm willing to take in order to protect that of my friends and I. If the police shoot me and the shooter, at least 30+ people aren't dead in a classroom, and if they are, they would have been anyway without the 2nd gun being there.

    (2) (The aspect most people forget about) is that people need general protection on campus. Women walking to their cars at night in parking garages (like they have on my campus) would be given the chance to protect themselves against attack. Police can't be everywhere, after all. Now, surely, someone will jump on me and say that women (and men for that matter) can get escorts around campus. The response I posit is simply that it does not happen because people don't want to be hassled every time they leave campus at night with calling the police, waiting the 20 minutes for them to show up, and then walking to their car. Plain and simple, firearms can level the playing field for a smaller female against a larger male in a way no other weapon can't. For reasons I won't discuss in this post, tazers or pepper spray simply are not effective.

    Now, onto some other general housekeeping measures...

    In regard to the "statistics" you have compiled regarding crime rate and liberal or strict gun laws. The fact is that you cannot correlate or show causation with these numbers. Using your same states, I can flip the numbers on you by moving the data to "violent crime" as opposed to strictly homicides. in fact, studies have shown that there is NO correlation between gun laws and an increase or decrease in crime or homicide. If you find a peer reviewed study showing that more guns laws = less crime, I'd be happy to look at it, but up until now I don't believe it exists.

    Next, you compare the gun crime rates with overall gun ownership in various countries. Again, no correlative data is provided. You simply cannot account for all of the social, economic, and other factors that can influence these numbers. Further, I would ask you to look up Switzerland and Israel and check their overall crime rates, because both of those countries have exceptionally high gun ownership rates. As far as the last data I've seen, they both have very very low rates of violent crime. Regardless though, your analyzing raw data, which simply is not an accepted method to compare data without controlling for the myriad of other factors.

    Continuing on... I don't know about you, but even if I'm carrying a gun, and I hear shots, my first notion will be to run, get out, and find safety. No one in SCCC is advocating vigilantism here. Getting to a safe place, calling law enforcement, and generally avoiding armed confrontation is certainly not a policy SCCC is telling people not to do. However, when the fight comes to your classroom, that you're in, with no way out except through the shooter, I don't want to be armed with textbooks and pencils to rest my life on. Firearms are a last resort, and any member of SCCC will tell you that. Are SCCC members trained as well as law enforcement? Some are, some aren't, and it doesn't matter. Some chance to survive and end a deadly situation is better than no chance.

    With regard to prevention -- I, and SCCC I suspect (but cannot speak for), are for Background checks when a person buys a gun. When people are involuntarily committed to mental institutions and deemed a threat to society, they shouldn't have firearms. Should there be programs that address mental health on a college campus - ABSOLUTELY. I am for all of these preventative measures, but the fact remains that bad people can still get guns. You are simply not going to stop people hellbent on killing people from getting guns; the black market is too large. Given that people who are going on a killing spree already are going to KILL PEOPLE, they probably don't care about the law or campus policy that says they can't have a gun. The result is that you have an area that a shooter knows no one is supposed to have firearms except the police, and they know the police are not going to show up for a least a few minutes. You do the math.

    As to college campus safety -- Sure, most college campuses are extremely safe. The chances of this happening at my college or yours is very remote. However, they probably thought that at VT and NIU as well, and it happened there. I liken it to this: The chance that your house is going to burn to the ground is next to zero, but you still have homeowners insurance. Why? Just in case. That's all law abiding people are asking for here. That insurance policy that they hope they will never have to use, but if they do, at least it's there.

    I, nor SCCC, are arguing anything about the second amendment.

    Finally, I posit to you and the other members viewing this blog the following scenario: If a active shooter walked into your brother/sister/mother/father/friend/spouse's classroom and opened fire, would you want someone with a gun in that classroom? (be it a armed citizen, ex cop, FBI agent, Postal official) Because I posit to you that if you answer no, the most likely result is that everyone in that classroom will be injured or die. The alternative is that they have a CHANCE to crawl out of the room in tact, or at least more people have a chance to remain alive.

    Bottom line... I realize this will make some people "feel" unsafe. However, I don't want to make people "feel" safe. I want people to actually BE safe. When people walk around in the mall, the movies, the grocery store, they don't flinch at the idea that people are carrying guns around them. And that will be the same case here. I can already carry, and do, at all of these places, and nobody gives me a second look, and amazingly, I have never committed a crime in my life. So why shouldn't I be able to adequately defend myself in the event of a terrible situation?

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  18. And I forgot one thing...

    "Finally, a society that rejects government as a provider of security is an anarchy. Americans are unlikely to embrace a system of vigilante justice, where those with the quickest (or most lethal) guns enforce the law as they see fit."

    First, the Supreme Court has stated very clearly that citizens DO NOT have any constitutional right to police protection. Therefore, if someone is in your classroom, you call the police, and they show up 3 hours later, you, as a private individual, have NO cause of action against the government. See Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales.

    Second, in most states, the legislatures or these states have enacted laws that allow people to defend themselves against deadly force with deadly force. This is, in effect, a system where the citizen is delegated power to ensure their own safety in lieu of the government taking action. So in essence, the law abiding citizen who is being attacked and who kills the attacked by being quickest to the trigger has already been embraced by the majority of Americans. (No, I don't want to hear about how a 3 million member NRA "scares" the legislature of a vast majority of states into enacting laws which the majority reject -- it's just not a sound argument and instead it used as a scapegoat for policy preferences)

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  19. Thanks for your comments, Jman. We’ve provided the link to SCCC’s website where they state that “ the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying.” There is absolutely nothing on the SCCC website about “getting to a safe place, calling law enforcement, and generally avoiding armed confrontation.” If you have a link to provide us that demonstrates otherwise, we would happy to see it. Nor does SCCC support any measures that would prevent individuals like Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak from acquiring firearms in the first place. From comments that have appeared in the press and on their Facebook group, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of SCCC members actively oppose such measures (i.e., closing the Gun Show Loophole, cracking down on corrupt gun dealers, One-Handgun-Per-Month laws to limit illegal trafficking in firearms, etc.), regardless of how modest or sensible.

    As for SCCC advocating on behalf of “smaller females,” a quick look at the discussion on their Facebook page reveals that 90% or more of the comments there are from male SCCC members who look perfectly capable of defending themselves without a gun. If the SCCC agenda is so critical to women on college campuses, why are they not better represented within the SCCC ranks? Better yet, why do 94% of all Americans oppose the SCCC agenda, regardless of gender?

    As for this hypothetical “Black Market” for guns, there is no black market. The sources of illegally diverted firearms in our country have actually been well defined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(ATF). I would refer you to the report “Following the Gun.” The top two sources of illegally diverted firearms in this country are corrupt federally licensed gun dealers (1.2% of gun dealers supply more than 57% of all the crime guns in this country) and gun shows (at which most states still allow individuals to sell guns without conducting background checks on purchasers). The pool of illegal guns in this country would dry up significantly if we could shut down that small group of bad apple dealers and eliminate the loopholes that allow criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns without undergoing a background check. We also need to strengthen background checks when they do occur to make sure that individuals with extensive mental health issues like Cho and Kazmierczak are not able to slip through the cracks and purchase guns. - CSGV

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  20. Jman, as for your suggestion that the police have no duty to protect the public, we think that is a misstatement of judicial opinion on this subject. The majority opinion by Justice Scalia in the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzalez found that state law did not entitle the holder of a restraining order to any specific mandatory action by the police. The restraining order in that case simply provided grounds for arresting the subject of the order. Justice Scalia ruled that the specific action to be taken in such a case should be left up to the discretion of the police.

    Another oft-cited case by gun rights activists is Warren v. District of Columbia. But that opinion held that “Public officials at all levels remain accountable to the public and the public maintains elaborate mechanisms to enforce its rights—both formally in the courts and less formally through internal disciplinary proceedings.” In explaining its reasoning, the court stated that, “An enormous amount of public time and money would be consumed in litigation of private claims rather than in bettering the inadequate service which draws the complaints.” - CSGV

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  21. Stopgunviolence...

    Your assessment of Town of Castle Rock v Gonzales is simply wrong. That case involved a restraining order protecting a mother and her children from a father. The restraining order stated, in pertinent part: "“NOTICE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS: YOU SHALL USE EVERY REASONABLE MEANS TO ENFORCE THIS RESTRAINING ORDER. YOU SHALL ARREST, OR, IF AN ARREST WOULD BE IMPRACTICAL UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, SEEK A WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF THE RESTRAINED PERSON WHEN YOU HAVE INFORMATION AMOUNTING TO PROBABLE CAUSE THAT THE RESTRAINED PERSON HAS VIOLATED OR ATTEMPTED TO VIOLATE ANY PROVISION OF THIS ORDER AND THE RESTRAINED PERSON HAS BEEN PROPERLY SERVED WITH A COPY OF THIS ORDER OR HAS RECEIVED ACTUAL NOTICE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THIS ORDER.”

    In that case, the mother called police and told them that the husband had come and taken her children; this clearly establishes probable cause under the terms of the restraining order. Contrary to your assertion that "[t]he restraining order in that case simply provided grounds for arresting the subject of the order," it seems apparent that the restraining order required law enforcement action. However, the court found that almost all law enforcement action is discretionary, and therefore there is no entitlement to such action under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Therefore, the government could not be held responsible for inaction even given the mandatory arrest language of the restraining order. Necessarily, this implicates virtually ALL police action, as most ALL of it has some discretionary component. What results is a decision which states that police are not required to protection private citizens.

    This can be summed up rather succinctly via the holding in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept of Social Services which said: "the so-called “substantive” component of the Due Process Clause does not “requir[e] the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against invasion by private actors.”

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  22. Thanks for your follow-up comment on this important topic, Jman. Justice Scalia never states that the police do not have a duty to protect private citizens in the majority opinion in the Castle Rock v. Gonzalez case. As stated earlier, he ruled that the specific action taken in such cases should be left up to the discretion of the police, and not to any given individual in a community. He explains why this is necessary on pp. 12 -13 of the opinion:

    The deep-rooted nature of law-enforcement discretion, even in the presence of seemingly mandatory legislative commands, is illustrated by Chicago v. Morales, 527 U. S. 41 (1999), which involved an ordinance that said a police officer “shall order” persons to disperse in certain circumstances, id., at 47, n. 2. This Court rejected out of hand the possibility that “the mandatory language of the ordinance…afford[ed] the police no discretion.” Id., at 62, n. 32. It is, the Court proclaimed, simply “common sense that all police officers must use some discretion in deciding when and where to enforce city ordinances.” Ibid. (emphasis added).

    Against that backdrop, a true mandate of police action would require some stronger indication from the Colorado Legislature than “shall use every reasonable means to enforce a restraining order” (or even “shall arrest…or…seek a warrant”), §§18.6.803.5(3)(a), (b). That language is not perceptibly more mandatory than the Colorado statute which has long told municipal chiefs of police that they “shall pursue and arrest any person fleeing from justice in any part of the state” and that they “shall apprehend any person in the act of committing any offense…and, forthwith and without any warrant, bring such person before a…competent authority for examination and trial.” Colo. Rev. Stat. §31.4.112 (Lexis 2004). It is hard to imagine that a Colorado peace officer would not have some discretion to determine that—despite probable cause to believe a restraining order has been violated—the circumstances of the violation or the competing duties of that officer or his agency counsel decisively against enforcement in a particular instance. The practical necessity for discretion is particularly apparent in a case such as this one, where the suspected violator is not actually present and his whereabouts are unknown. Cf. Donaldson v. Seattle, 65 Wash. App. 661, 671.672, 831 P. 2d 1098, 1104 (1992) (“There is a vast difference between a mandatory duty to arrest [a violator who is on the scene] and a mandatory duty to conduct a follow up investigation [to locate an absent violator]…. A mandatory duty to investigate would be completely open-ended as to priority, duration and intensity”).


    In the opinion’s conclusion, Justice Scalia makes it clear that he is simply stating that the police are not financially accountable to individuals under the Due Process Clause—but that remedies can be provided to individuals by the state themselves (pp. 19-20):

    In light of today’s decision and that in DeShaney, the benefit that a third party may receive from having someone else arrested for a crime generally does not trigger protections under the Due Process Clause, neither in its procedural nor in its “substantive” manifestations. This result reflects our continuing reluctance to treat the Fourteenth Amendment as “’a font of tort law,’” Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U. S. 527, 544 (1981) (quoting Paul v. Davis, 424 U. S., at 701), but it does not mean States are powerless to provide victims with personally enforceable remedies. Although the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 17 Stat. 13 (the original source of §1983), did not create a system by which police departments are generally held financially accountable for crimes that better policing might have prevented, the people of Colorado are free to craft such a system under state law. Cf. DeShaney, 489 U. S., at 203.

    Nor does Justice Scalia preclude the potential remedies for individuals described in the Warren v. District of Columbia decision, which include public prosecution and internal disciplinary proceedings. Finally, we shouldn’t forget that police forces are accountable to elected officials who can be voted in—or out—of office by the public depending on their performance in providing for public safety.

    Looking at the issue of school shootings, we can’t think of a single such tragedy where law enforcement failed to respond to protect the students involved. During the last high-profile shooting at Northern Illinois University, two officers arrived in the area less than a minute after the shooting began and several other officers reached the scene two minutes later. Colleges and universities across America now have emergency response plans in place to deal specifically with active shooter situations. Those plans involve professional law enforcement officers who are trained extensively in how to address these scenarios. – CSGV

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  23. Stopgunviolence...

    You basically concede my point. There is no "right" to police protection under our Constitution. Can states enact tort remedies so that people like Mrs. Gonzales can sue when a police force screws up? Sure. Do they? No. Instead most states have laws that completely limit the liability of its police forces in the area of inaction.

    And dear god, are you saying that myself and the rest of the American citizenry should put our lives in the hands of police forces simply because they can be disciplined internally and voted out of office? Such a conclusion I think is wishful thinking given that police forces are largely reactionary forces and that, as you have stated, people have no right to police protection.

    Finally, I take serious issue with your statement "we can’t think of a single such tragedy where law enforcement failed to respond to protect the students involved." Did law enforcement respond to VT and NIU? Sure. Did it do ANY good whatsoever. No. In both instances the shooter was dead by the time police showed up and the victims were dead as well. On the contrary, I can't think of the last school shooting incident where the police showed up in time to save some victims.

    As for your "law enforcement officers are trained to handle these situations", I would simply submit that they can be very well trained, but if they don't show up in time it is of no difference. For a person carrying a concealed handgun lawfully the procedure is very simple: (1) Identify shooter; (2) Draw weapon; (3) Stop the assault. With regards to the possible consequences of this action, I believe my first post is comprehensive with regards to this issue. Bottom line: Some defense is better than no defense; anything is better than mass slaughter.

    (This, by the way, is not a knock on Police, as I admire the job they do. However, they are a completely reactionary force, and are simply not physically able to stop these massacres.)

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  24. Jman, if your point is that individuals do not have a right to litigate against the government for financial compensation when they are unhappy with the results of a 911 call under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution, yes, that is clearly what the majority ruled in the Castle Rock v. Gonzalez case. But, as previously noted, the courts have also indicated that the police do indeed have a duty to protect the public (“Public officials at all levels remain accountable to the public and the public maintains elaborate mechanisms to enforce its rights—both formally in the courts and less formally through internal disciplinary proceedings.” – Warren v. District of Columbia). In Castle Rock, Justice Scalia simply affirmed that individuals cannot dictate to law enforcement how to prioritize the full range of their duties and responsibilities (because if they were allowed to, it would be to the detriment of public safety in general).

    The bottom line is that while the remedies for police inaction or negligence might not be to your liking, there are multiple remedies available (i.e., public prosecution, internal disciplinary proceedings, legislative remedies at the state and local level, action at the polls to replace elected officials, etc.).

    We also think you have unfairly criticized law enforcement’s response to the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois tragedies. There is actually pretty clear evidence in both cases that law enforcement’s response caused the shooters to take their own lives before further damage could be done. The dramatically low homicide rate at our nation’s college campuses (0.07 per 100,000 of enrollment in 1999 compared to an overall criminal homicide rate in the United States of 5.7 per 100,000 persons) is also a testament to the performance of campus and local law enforcement in communities across the country.

    Finally, as to your “reactionary force” comment, concealed carry permit holders who are rising to open fire in classrooms after an active shooter has initiated a conflict are equally reactionary. This gets back to the point that Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has yet to support a single initiative that would prevent individuals like Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak from getting their hands on guns in the first place. Unlike the Virginia Tech Review Panel, SCCC has no plan for prevention.

    And in a situation that involves a response to an active shooter, it is understandable that students and faculty would feel more comfortable leaving that response to trained, professional law enforcement officers, as opposed to concealed carry permit holders with a day-class in handgun safety training, or less (several states require no training at all). - CSGV

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  25. "the courts have also indicated that the police do indeed have a duty to protect the public"

    Remaining accountable and having a legally actionable duty are different things under the law. Police have no duty to protect citizens that is directly actionable under the laws of almost all of the states.

    "The bottom line is that while the remedies for police inaction or negligence might not be to your liking, there are multiple remedies available (i.e., public prosecution, internal disciplinary proceedings, legislative remedies at the state and local level, action at the polls to replace elected officials, etc.)."

    --There are NO remedies for people that have been shot and killed in a classroom why they were unarmed and defenseless.

    "There is actually pretty clear evidence in both cases that law enforcement’s response caused the shooters to take their own lives before further damage could be done."

    And the result of this response -- 32 people died at VT, 6 at NIU, which had those people had a way to defend THEMSELVES, as opposed to relying on law enforcement, might still be alive today.

    "Finally, as to your “reactionary force” comment, concealed carry permit holders who are rising to open fire in classrooms after an active shooter has initiated a conflict are equally reactionary."

    The difference is time, and in an active shooter situation, time equates to lives. CCW holders can react in a matter of seconds. Law enforcement can't.

    "This gets back to the point that Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has yet to support a single initiative that would prevent individuals like Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak from getting their hands on guns in the first place. Unlike the Virginia Tech Review Panel, SCCC has no plan for prevention."

    As I had discussed earlier, but you failed to post, SCCC had a very narrow scope for which we advocate for. With regard to your claim that nowhere does SCCC want people to get to a safe place and avoid confrontation, and it appears the general assertion that SCCC is "shoot first" happy, I offer the following: SCCC is an organization advocating for people who have concealed carry permits already in their state, who are able to carry most other places, to be able to carry a firearm on campus in order to defend themselves and others. No more, no less. As an organization with a very narrow scope and purpose, we don't directly address most gun control issues outside of this purview. We don't address the second amendment. We don't address background checks. We don't address gun-show "loopholes" or endorse political candidates. While you may find that many members discuss and have anti-gun control legislation views on our discussion board, SCCC officially has no position on these issues because they don't pertain to the goal we are trying to achieve. Similarly, your organization doesn't "directly support" the lawful use of firearms for self defense in the home -- however it would be inaccurate of me to state that you are against self defense in the home simply because your website doesn't directly take a stance on the issue. This is, however, what you are trying to paint SCCC as doing -- because we don't take a stance on an issue that isn't within our organizations scope, we must be against it. Wrong.

    I also, personally, think you are remiss for thinking the vast majority of the SCCC membership is against sensible gun control legislation. Where we differ is on what is sensible. I don't think you would find very many members against background checks and improvements to the NICS system so that felony and mental patient data is available in that system. I doubt you would find many members who would be against punishing corrupt gun dealers, because lets face it, they are the ones who make the average gun owner look bad. However, I think "one gun a month" laws are simply restrictive on law abiding people. Think about it. If you have "rogue" gun dealers already breaking the law and trafficking in guns and breaking federal laws, a one gun a month law isn't going to do anything to stop the problem. They are already breaking the law. However, it does affect the law abiding person like me, who goes to a gun show, finds a few good deals from various dealers, undergoes background checks for all of these purchases, and walks away with 2 firearms. (And, contrary to a large talking point you mention, private gun show sales , those which don't involve an FFL, are few and far in between. If I recall correctly, the last data I saw, it was something like 1.5% of all crime guns come from gun shows. To me, you need to look somewhere else to solve the problem.

    "And in a situation that involves a response to an active shooter, it is understandable that students and faculty would feel more comfortable leaving that response to trained, professional law enforcement officers"

    Once again, you make my primary argument for me. I don't care if students and faculty FEEL safer without guns on campus. The question is are they ACTUALLY safer? And the fact remains that you can produce NO peer-reviewed evidence than any gun control measure reduces crime. In the absence of a compelling reason to the contrary, peoples liberty interests and right to defend ones self should not be infringed so people can "feel" good about being on campus.

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  26. Jman, do you have a source for your claim that “Police have no duty to protect citizens that is directly actionable under the laws of almost all the states”? Have you analyzed the law in this area for all 50 states? And why is public prosecution not a “legally actionable” response?

    As for your claim that the lives lost at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois were lost as a result of law enforcement’s response to the shootings, we find that to be an unfair and disturbing attack on the law enforcement officers involved in those incidents. Those lives were lost not because of the actions of law enforcement at the scene of the shootings, but because of lax gun laws that allowed two individuals with long and established histories of mental illness to buy guns on multiple occasions. Even a cursory check into the background of Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak at the time of these purchases would have revealed that they presented a direct threat to the public’s safety.

    As for SCCC’s “narrow” scope, the issue of how concealed carry permit holders would respond to active shooter situations on their campuses is a matter of central importance to their advocacy efforts and they have spoken clearly and publicly on their website on this topic by advising students that “the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying.”

    This is in direct contrast to the approach of Colorado State University, which advises concealed carry permit holders on campus to avoid engaging in gunfights…period. And it’s certainly in direct contrast to the recommendations of the Virginia Tech Review Panel.

    The bottom line is that the policy recommendations of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus will do nothing to prevent future deranged shooters from acquiring firearms. SCCC has made a conscious decision to ignore the critical issue of prevention.

    As for our organization’s position on the lawful use of firearms in the home for self defense, I would refer you to our brief in the District of Columbia v. Heller case.

    On the subject of specific gun control laws, as previously mentioned, the ATF has identified corrupt federally licensed gun dealers and gun shows as the two largest sources of illegal diverted guns in our country. So One-Handgun-Per-Month laws certainly do have an effect in limiting the number of handguns that a straw purchaser can purchase at one time. Typically, straw purchasers buy in bulk and quickly move guns to the illegal market. Nor do we see any negative effect that such laws would have on the law-abiding, who would still be able to buy 12 handguns per year, every year.

    As for gun shows, the 1.5% statistic that you’re using is from a survey of convicted criminals. It was not a scientific study, nor did it even attempt to trace the crime guns involved to see how they were originally purchased (unlike ATF’s “Following the Gun” study). For more on that BJS survey, read our report here. - CSGV

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  27. There is actually a significant body of peer-reviewed evidence that sensible gun laws limit criminals’ access to firearms and reduce gun death. We would refer you first of all to the Brady Law, which has stopped more than 1.6 million criminals and other prohibited purchasers to date from buying firearms. We’d also refer you to peer-reviewed studies at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and to David Hemenway’s excellent book, “Private Guns, Public Health.”

    We suspect that your assertion that there is no peer-reviewed evidence was some type of reference to a 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences entitled “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review.” That study found some evidence that certain gun control laws were effective (including the Brady Law and Virginia’s One-Handgun-Per-Month Law), but on the whole concluded the following:

    “Our report is not for or against "gun control." (We put gun control in quotation marks because it is so vague: "gun control" can range from preventing four-year-old children from owning guns to banning their ownership by competent adults.) Knowing how strongly so many Americans feel about firearms and various proposals to control or prevent controls on their ownership, we here state emphatically that our task is to determine what can be learned from existing data and studies that rely on them and to make recommendations about how the knowledge base could be effectively improved. Readers of this report should not be surprised that the committee often concludes that very little can be learned. The committee was not called into being to make policy about firearms. Political officials, responding not only to data and studies but also to widely held (and often passionately opposed) public beliefs, will have to make policy. They should do so, however, with an understanding of what is known and not known about firearms and violence.”

    What you apparently aren’t aware of, however, is that that same study looked at the efficacy of concealed carry laws across the nation and found the following:

    “Proponents of these laws argue that criminals are deterred by the knowledge that potential victims may be carrying weapons and therefore that the laws reduce crime. However, it is not clear a priori that such deterrence occurs. Even if it does, there may be offsetting adverse consequences. For example, increased possession of firearms by potential victims may motivate more criminals to carry firearms and thereby increase the amount of violence that is associated with crime. Moreover, allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons may increase accidental injuries or deaths or increase shootings during arguments ... The literature on right-to-carry laws summarized in this chapter has obtained conflicting estimates of their effects on crime. Estimation results have proven to be very sensitive to the precise specification used and time period examined. The initial model specification, when extended to new data, does not show evidence that passage of right-to-carry laws reduces crime. The estimated effects are highly sensitive to seemingly minor changes in the model specification and control variables. No link between right-to-carry laws and changes in crime is apparent in the raw data, even in the initial sample; it is only once numerous covariates are included that the negative results in the early data emerge. While the trend models show a reduction in the crime growth rate following the adoption of right-to-carry laws, these trend reductions occur long after law adoption, casting serious doubt on the proposition that the trend models estimated in the literature reflect effects of the law change. Finally, some of the point estimates are imprecise. Thus, the committee concludes that with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates.”

    Which begs the question…where is your evidence that students would make their colleges and universities safer by carrying concealed handguns on our nation’s campuses? And why does the Virginia Tech Review Panel and campus law enforcement across the country disagree with the conclusions drawn by SCCC? - CSGV

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  28. Notice how Stop Gun Violence pulls data from other countries.

    The argument is faulty, unless we are to assume, as Stop Gun Violence has done, that there are no differences between countries in such items as:
    laws,
    enforcement rates,
    conviction rates,
    education,
    health care,
    economy,
    customs,
    popular media,
    religious influence,
    culture,
    influence from neighboring countries,
    population age,
    demographics,
    gang issues,
    race issues,
    division of wealth,
    welfare,
    employment........

    Should I continue with this point? I'd say it's pretty clear that some blatant assumptions are being made. Last time I checked, none of those other countries had 750,000 active gang members, as stated by the White House.

    Of course, the recent Kates study in the Harvard Law Review doesn't take countries out of context like SGV does. It found in Europe that neighboring, similar countries with more restrictive laws have higher crime rates than bordering countries with less restrictive laws and higher gun ownership rates.
    ----------------------------------
    In another post, this same author, after vehemently denouncing SCOTUS interpretations other than their own, showed that they were unaware of the several SCOTUS cases that explicitly said the Police were under no obligation to protect you, even if you get murdered by someone you've filed a restraining order against. Try Castle Rock v. Gonzales if you want the most recent ruling.
    ------------------------------
    And, let's not forget that Stop Gun Violence isn't telling the full truth about the Brady instant check system. People have been stopped, but how many of those who are denied ever get checked into? What good does telling a criminal "No" do if you don't follow through? Ask the Jewish Community Center that experienced a shooting during the Clinton administration. VP Gore stood on those very grounds demanding more gun laws. Why? The killer had forged federal documents and made numerous attempts to purchase legally before obtaining illegally. The crimes he committed in attempting to purchase legally could have had him behind bars for 60 years, but we need more gun laws because we don't have the resources to adequately enforce the ones we have...

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  29. Stopgunviolence,

    "do you have a source for your claim that “Police have no duty to protect citizens that is directly actionable under the laws of almost all the states”?"

    Yes, actually, I do have a source for this claim. I would refer you to American Law Review annotation 90 A.L.R.5th 273, which states in it's abstract that "As a general rule in most United States jurisdictions, there is no duty on the part of a municipality or other governmental unit to provide police protection to a particular individual from crime absent a "special duty" of protection." In the essence of saving space, I will only list the states, and not the statutory or case law authority that backs this assertion. They are: All 11 circuit courts of federal appeals, the US Supreme Court, AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, NB, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, WA, WV, WI. All in all, 37 states grant police immunity from civil liability, all 11 circuit courts of appeals recognize this general principle, and I might add that this only deals with states that have cases on point or laws that directly address the issue. Also, I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "public prosecution." I've ruled out, above, most civil prosecutions, and those same states overwhelmingly bar criminal prosecutions of law enforcement officers acting in the performance of their duties except in cases of "willful and wanton" misconduct (like shooting someone they knew to be innocent). If, on the other hand, you mean that they may lose their jobs, or elected positions, I posit that this is no safeguard that should be substituted for someones right to safety and to defend themselves.

    "“the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying.”

    In an active-shooter situation, when you're in the room, this statement is absolutely accurate. If I was in a room and a shooter began killing people, my first inclination, to hide, would probably be overtaken by the idea that if you hide when someone is systematically killing a room of people, you too are likely to die unless you take action to defend yourself. The problem is, that at most campuses, I'm left with only one choice in this situation - to try and hide and "hope" that I don't get shot.

    As you note, CSU advises students to avoid gun confrontation at all times. I agree, unless of course it is your last resort to survive. It should be noted that CSU nor any of the public universities in UT have encountered even ONE incident of gun violence from a CCW holder. Neither have they had any thefts, accidental shootings, etc. Finally, with regard to the VTRP, I disagree patently with their findings, as does SCCC.

    "SCCC has made a conscious decision to ignore the critical issue of prevention."

    SCCC has done no such thing and has instead chosen to focus our limited resources on the defense of people in life threatening situations by allowing then to actively defend themselves. As I've previously noted, SCCC members are not opposed to all gun control, and you should not infer as much from a lack of the organization as a whole not addressing an issue not central to our goal: to allow people to defend themselves.

    "There is actually a significant body of peer-reviewed evidence that sensible gun laws limit criminals’ access to firearms and reduce gun death."

    With regard to the Brady law, to the extent that it provided for a national criminal background check system, I am all for it. Felons should not be able to purchase weapons. As for your "significant body of . . . evidence" I'm pretty sure more than 2 or 3 studies are required before a wholesale stripping of the citizenry's rights to defend themselves is in order (see last paragraph below). With regard to the national academy of sciences study, my point in bringing it up is that there is simply no correlative evidence between gun control and a decrease in crime.

    You are correct in that the study did not conclude the CCW laws decrease crime rates, however, that wasn't the point I was trying to make....which is....

    If a body of people wish to strip citizens of a "free"country of their right to defend themselves by limiting their means to do so (i.e guns), the ones in favor of restriction should have compelling evidence that the law or policy they are implementing will have conclusive results. Liberty is not something to be stripped away from a population without good reason, and the evidence should be overwhelming to do so. You simply have no compelling evidence, over time, or with the approval of the vast majority of people and institutions that have studied it, to restrict the liberty of the vast majority of people based on the actions of a few. If you did, we wouldn't be having this conversation, and there would be no CCW laws in any state (as opposed to having at least some CCW laws in 48 of the 50 states). We don't do it on other issues, such as restricting the wholesale use of automobiles because of the actions of a few drunk drivers, and we shouldn't do it here. The laws that we have adequately penalize people who commit gun violence without stripping the citizenry of their fundamental right to defend themselves and their loved ones. And make no mistake, the right to defend ones self is fundamental. It should not stop at campus boundary line.

    Why does campus LE and the VTRP oppose our conclusions? The straight answer is I don't know. Perhaps it is ignorance of guns -- a fear that if you allow guns to be carried someplace the streets will run with blood. Most people don't even know that concealed carry is legal in most states -- indeed they don't that people right around them are carrying weapons without any repercussions. That is all part of SCCC's mission: to educate people about the carrying of weapons for self-defense and logically reason with people that just because you cross on to a college campus doesn't mean that anything has changed, and your defense shouldn't be sacrificed. I carry a firearm every day and nothing changes when I come on campus, except for the fact that I become disarmed by a policy that is rooted in neither logic nor facts.

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  30. Missed something from the last post...

    "As for your claim that the lives lost at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois were lost as a result of law enforcement’s response to the shootings, we find that to be an unfair and disturbing attack on the law enforcement officers involved in those incidents."

    At no time did I say, or mean in imply, that these lives were lost as a direct result of law enforcement action of inaction. What I did say is that "[t]he difference is time, and in an active shooter situation, time equates to lives. CCW holders can react in a matter of seconds. Law enforcement can't."

    My point was that law enforcement simply can't react fast enough, and if a policy on campus would have allowed people with CCW permits to carry guns, the death toll may have been less.

    I greatly respect our law enforcement officers. Indeed, I work for the Prosecutor's Office of a major US city, and work with LE every day. Their work is indispensable. But it is simply no substitute for allowing people to defend themselves.

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  31. Thanks for your comment, Nick. The only specific “demographic” difference you point out between the United States and other industrialized democracies is the presence of 750,000 gang members in the U.S. (you never say how many gang members might be present in those other countries). You seem be suggesting that gang violence in inner city communities is the primary—or sole—cause of the 30,000+ gun deaths each year in the United States.

    The problem is that this argument doesn’t hold up when one looks at the data. The FBI reported 14,860 total murders in 2005, only 850 of which were gang killings. Equally telling, of the 8,136 murders that year for which a relationship could be derived between the killer and the victim, 6,066 of those murders involved a killer and victim who knew each other (i.e., family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.). Only 2,070 of those 8,136 murders involved a killer and victim who were strangers. Finally, there were more than 17,000 gun suicides in the U.S. in 2005—which had little or nothing to do with gang violence (CDC, WISQARS tool).

    SCCC seems to be advancing the theory that the “disarming” or private citizens (particularly in the public arena) leads to more homicide and gun death. The problem with that theory is that it is completely discredited by reality—virtually every other industrialized democracy in the world has tougher gun laws than the United States and far lower rates of homicide and gun death. Their citizens are free and far safer than we are here in the United States.

    The Kates/Mauser study you cite (“Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?”) compared murder rates in the U.S. and Russia between 1999-2004. During this period, Russia was an authoritarian state and home to a significant amount of political and state-sponsored violence. It seems somewhat curious to use such a country as a standard for public safety here in the United States. Later in the study, Kates and Mauser can only identify a handful of other Eastern European and NIS nations (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine) that had higher murder rates than the U.S. during the period 1994-1996. Again, several of these countries suffered from political instability or state-sponsored violence.

    In their study, Kates and Mauser also make the odd claim that “Criminal violence increased so that by 2000 England surpassed the United States to become one of the world’s most violence-ridden nations.” It makes one wonder if the two academics have ever actually traveled to the United Kingdom. Here are the statistics for 2004-2005:

    Total # of Homicides in 2004: England 853, USA 16,148
    Total # of Gun Homicides in 2004: England 68, USA 11,624
    Total # of Gun Deaths in 2004: England 191, USA 29,569

    Total # of Homicides in 2005: England 859, USA 16,740
    Total # of Gun Homicides in 2005: England 73, USA 12,352
    Total # of Gun Deaths in 2005: England 185, USA 30,694

    The truth is that the British (and other citizens in European democracies) are stunned by the intensity and level of gun violence that is tolerated in the United States. But if you would like to explain why the U.S. is demographically more similar to authoritarian nations in Eastern Europe like Belarus and Russia than it is to modern industrialized democracies like Britain, Canada and Australia, we are all ears…

    You also referenced the August 1999 shooting at the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center. The individual who perpetrated those shootings was Buford Furrow, an individual with a history of mental illness and ties to white supremacist organizations. Furrow opened fire with an Uzi submachine gun and injured five people, including three children. After fleeing the center, Furrow killed postman Joseph Ileto with a Glock 9mm handgun.

    Subsequent investigation revealed that Furrow purchased the Glock handgun used to kill Ileto from a private seller at a gun show in Spokane, Washington. Because of a loophole created in federal law by the National Rifle Association in 1986 (the “Gun Show Loophole”), Furrow was able to purchase this gun without undergoing a background check. Private sellers in 35 states across the country are still selling guns in this manner (these sellers do not even have a legal duty to check a buyer’s Driver’s License, much less conduct a background check). A thorough background check certainly would have revealed evidence of Furrow’s mental illness and affiliation with extreme, racist organizations. A senior ATF official later indicated that Furrow purchased four other firearms he was carrying that day through private sellers at gun shows.

    In the wake of this horrific incident, it was certainly perfectly appropriate for Americans to discuss the role of assault weapons in gun violence (given the damage Furrow’s Uzi did that day to children and others) and the loophole in federal law that allows private sellers to sell firearms without conducting background checks on purchasers or maintaining records of these sales. - CSGV

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  32. I'm going to pick on one point from stopgunviolence. The point from the SCCC of "...more bullets flying..."

    SGV, you have taken it rather grossly out of context. If you read the entire page, nowhere does it advocate vigilante-type action on the part of a legal CCW person. A better paraphrase would be:

    Question:
    "What do I do in response to a shooter bent on killing me?
    Answer:
    "Shoot back."

    The SCCC advocates (from what I can tell from the same sources SGV has access too) *personal responsibility*, as in you are responsible for only your own safety. In order for people to be able to be responsible for their own safety, they strongly advocate that legally licensed gun owners be allowed to legally carry their legally licensed and owned guns in more places -- specifically college campuses.

    There is another argument and answer on SCCC's website:


    Argument: "The answer to school violence is prevention, not guns on campus."

    Answer: "Prevention and preparedness are not mutually exclusive. In a perfect system, the two approaches to safety compliment each other. Preventive measures, such as teaching students and faculty to watch for the warning signs of mental illness and providing counseling to disturbed students, can work hand in hand with preparative measures, such as developing campus alert systems, providing additional training to campus police, and allowing the same trained, licensed adults who legally carry concealed handguns when not on college campuses to do so on college campuses."

    Also, in the US, in every instance that I've heard or read about regarding the "loosening" of gun regulations (going from a "may issue" to "shall issue" for CCW permits for example) always carried predictions of "wild west" and "streets running with blood." Never have I heard of those kinds of predictions coming true.

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  33. Thank you for the American Law Review reference, Jman. However, you will recall Justice Scalia’s affirmation that the Castle Rock decision “does not mean States are powerless to provide victims with personally enforceable remedies.” Clearly, many states are not providing such specific remedies for a reason. If Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Castle Rock is any indication, this would likely be because: a) public opinion has not demanded such changes in these states; b) discretion over the use of law enforcement resources—in light of law enforcement’s full range of duties and responsibilities—is best left to the police, and not to select individuals with particular interests, and; c) allowing unlimited civil litigation against the police could bankrupt government and negatively impact public safety for all citizens in a state.

    If the popular will demanded it, however, your preferred remedy could be made available. In the interim, multiple remedies exist (i.e., criminal prosecution, internal disciplinary proceedings, and action at the polls to replace elected officials who fail to provide for the public’s safety) for individuals.

    As for your assertion that there has not been a single incident of gun violence involving a CCW holder—nor any gun thefts—at any of the 11 universities that allow students to carry concealed handguns on campus, what is your source(s) for that claim? We have examined all the publicly released materials from campus law enforcement at those schools and found no breakdowns whatsoever to indicate whether the stated offenses in their reports involved CCW holders or not. Nor do their larceny/robbery reports have breakdowns to indicate what exactly was stolen.

    Regarding SCCC’s limited resources, it wouldn’t take any resources for SCCC to publish a simple statement on its website saying, “In the wake of the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois shootings—where individuals with long and established histories of mental illness were able to legally purchase firearms on multiple occasions—SCCC supports efforts to improve the background check process at the federal and state level. States should submit all appropriate criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) and make sure that they are properly screening gun purchasers to ensure that they are not disqualified under federal or state law from purchasing firearms.” Wouldn’t it also be logical for SCCC to put out a statement supporting background checks on all gun sales, as well, given that the private sales involve no background checks whatsoever?

    We remain confused at to whether SCCC wants to engage in shootouts or prevent them from happening in the first place. That could be cleared up quickly without any cost to the organization.

    Regarding your “right” to carry a concealed handgun on campus, you certainly have no constitutional right to do so. That was made perfectly clear by Justice Scalia in the Heller decision ("Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms"). Whatever perceived right you think you have is counterbalanced by the right of your fellow students to attend colleges and universities that are gun-free. Their liberty is no less precious than yours, and polling data indicates that 94% of Americans oppose the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses.

    Nor have you produced any evidence that allowing concealed handguns on campus would make your and your fellow students safer. In fact, you cited a study by the National Academy of Sciences that drew a different conclusion (“…increased possession of firearms by potential victims may motivate more criminals to carry firearms and thereby increase the amount of violence that is associated with crime. Moreover, allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons may increase accidental injuries or deaths or increase shootings during arguments”). [On a side note, you will find more than 2-3 peer reviewed studies at the links we provided for the Harvard School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.]

    It’s also surprising to see you bring up the subject of automobiles, which are highly regulated in this country. We are assuming that means you support consumer regulation of firearms and the licensing and registration of gun owners.

    As for the notion that campus law enforcement across the nation and the Virginia Tech Review Panel oppose SCCC’s agenda because of “ignorance of guns,” we don’t think that theory holds much weight. Reports indicate that a significant percentage of campus police carry firearms. In the case of the Virginia Tech Review Panel, the chair of the panel, Col. Gerald Massengill, served 37 years in the Virginia State Police, retiring as the Virginia State Police Superintendent. Col. Massengill has been around firearms his entire life. Another panel member, Dr. Roger L. Depue, served for over 20 years in the FBI.

    Finally, we thank you for clarifying that campus law enforcement was not responsible for either the Virginia Tech or Northern Illinois tragedy. Given the histories of Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak, neither tragedy should have happened in the first place. - CSGV

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  34. Jman, regarding your assertion that individuals carry concealed handguns in this country "without any repercussions," we would encourage you to read our "Ordinary People" series of blogs here at Bullet Counter Points (accessible via the left toolbar links on this page). These blogs feature stories of concealed carry permit holders that have engaged in reckless and/or criminal behavior. - CSGV

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  35. Thank you for your comment, Squisher. We certainly didn’t attempt to take SCCC out of context. In fact, we provided a hyperlink directly to the SCCC document(s) in question so that readers could see it for themselves.

    You, however, have added new context to their statement with your own paraphrasing. In the original document, the Argument and Answer consisted only of the following:

    Argument: "The answer to bullets flying is not more bullets flying."

    Answer: "Actually, the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying. That’s why the police bring so many guns with them when they respond to a report of ‘shots fired.’"

    As we pointed out in our blog, this is in direct contrast to the advice of Colorado State University, which allows individuals to carry concealed handguns on campus. Their advice to students is clear: avoid confrontation, seek cover, and notify police when safe to do so. In a document entitled “Safety in the Office or Classroom During a Crisis,” under the heading “If the Shooter Enters Your Office or Classroom,” they emphasize this point further, stating, “Attempting to overcome the suspect with force is a last resort that should only be considered in the most extreme circumstances.”

    We were not able to find a single statement anywhere on the SCCC website urging such restraint, or emphasizing that avoiding a confrontation in an active shooter situation should be the first priority.

    We have also analyzed guidelines concerning law enforcement’s tactical response to active shooter situations. For example, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office stresses that “No action will be taken that is unplanned or without controls” and states that “Individual action is discouraged, as it is usually counterproductive to a coordinated, focused response to an active shooter event.” Paul R. Howe, a 20-year veteran and former Special Operations soldier and owner of Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT), states that “Once the first shot is fired, the damage is already done” and cautions that “Active Shooter response requires a practiced and rehearsed plan ahead of time.”

    This is obviously a far cry from advising individual concealed carry permit holders—who are required to take just a day-class in handgun safety training if they are required to have training at all—that “the answer to bullets flying is almost always more bullets flying.”

    You also brought up SCCC’s statement that, "Prevention and preparedness are not mutually exclusive. In a perfect system, the two approaches to safety compliment each other. Preventive measures, such as teaching students and faculty to watch for the warning signs of mental illness and providing counseling to disturbed students, can work hand in hand with preparative measures, such as developing campus alert systems, providing additional training to campus police, and allowing the same trained, licensed adults who legally carry concealed handguns when not on college campuses to do so on college campuses."

    While it is nice to see SCCC state that prevention would be part of a “perfect system,” it remains unclear whether they are actually endorsing the preventive measures they mention (“teaching students and faculty to watch for the warning signs of mental illness and providing counseling to disturbed students”). They state that such measures can work. Does that mean they recommend these measures be implemented, or even considered, by colleges and universities? They don’t say. Furthermore, it seems odd that SCCC would leave out any and all preventive measures that would stop mentally ill individuals like Seung Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak from purchasing firearms. Finally, on the entire SCCC website, this is the only time prevention is measured—in three sentences of text.

    As for your final assertion, while we have heard many commentators used the term “Wild, Wild West” in describing America’s liberal concealed carry policies, we have never heard a gun violence prevention advocate predict "streets running with blood." Can you provide a citation for that quote?

    While the streets are not “running with blood,” there is indeed a higher rate of gun death in states that have liberal concealed carry laws. Here are the state rankings in gun death per capita for 2005, from highest rate to lowest rate:

    Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee, Alabama, Nevada, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Carolina, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, South Dakota, Florida, Ohio, North Dakota, California, Kansas, Utah, Washington, Delaware, Wisconsin, Maine, Illinois, Nebraska, Vermont, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii (CDC 2005 data, WISQARS tool).

    Of the top 30 states in that group, 29 have “shall-issue” concealed carry laws and weak gun laws in general. - CSGV

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  36. You list the top 30 in gun deaths per capita, but do they have more overall deaths per capita? (no time to research right this second, I will attempt to find something when I get home).

    I will admit that if guns are easier to acquire, then they will be used in crime, and violent crime more often, but I haven't ever seen that the availability of guns has any affect on the total numbers, as in criminals will find some other weapon to use.

    I'll have to refind the "streets running with blood" comment, it may have been hyperbole when I found it in the first place, thus making it wholly inappropriate, for that I apologize.

    Perhaps the difference "more bullets" vs. "shoot back" is perspective? That's just what "more bullets" means to me in the context of protecting myself from someone on a shooting rampage.

    In any case, it's nice to be able to discuss potentially emotional things rationally for once!

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  37. Thanks for the follow-up comment, Squisher. For a little context first, there were 18,124 homicides in the United States in 2005—12,352 of them were committed with a firearm. There were 32,637 suicides in the United States in 2005—17,002 of them were committed with a firearm. Over 50% in both cases…

    Here are the state rankings in homicide per capita (all causes) in 2005, highest rate to lowest rate: Louisiana, Maryland, Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, Tennessee, New Mexico, South Carolina, Arkansas, Nevada, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, California, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Indiana, Florida, Alaska, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Colorado, Kansas, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Connecticut, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Utah, Hawaii, Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, Iowa, New Hampshire. Of the top 30 states in that group, three have very good gun laws (Maryland, California, New Jersey) and three have pretty good gun laws (Illinois, Delaware, Michigan). The remaining 24 have weak gun laws.

    Here are the state rankings in suicide per capita (all causes) in 2005, highest rate to lowest rate: Montana, Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, South Dakota, Oregon, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Utah, Kentucky, Maine, Florida, Kansas, Washington, Vermont, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, Delaware, California, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York. All of the top 30 states in this group have weak gun laws.

    All of the preceding data came from CDC’s WISQARS tool. – CSGV

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  38. Also, you guys keep using various stats from the CDC tool, but the problem is that you never actually analyze the group you should. I've seen you, so far, analyze suicides, homicides by ALL CAUSES (not limited to firearms), and then you errouneously make the following few statements:

    "While the streets are not “running with blood,” there is indeed a higher rate of gun death in states that have liberal concealed carry laws. Here are the state rankings in gun death per capita for 2005, from highest rate to lowest rate:

    Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee, Alabama, Nevada, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Carolina, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, South Dakota, Florida, Ohio, North Dakota, California, Kansas, Utah, Washington, Delaware, Wisconsin, Maine, Illinois, Nebraska, Vermont, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii"

    And..

    "within our own country, the latest CDC data shows that the five states with the lowest rates of gun death per capita (New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii) are all states with tough gun laws. The five states with the highest rates of gun death per capita? They are Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Tennessee, and Alabama - all states with very weak gun laws."

    However, when you look at the actual data, and the rate per capita of homicide with a firearm in the population, you get different results. (Remember that this post deals with SCCC, and homicide by causes other than firearm death, and suicide, have no relation to concealed carry laws)

    From my WISQUARS query, titled "2005, United States Homicide Firearm Deaths and Rates per 100,000
    All Races, Both Sexes, All Ages" (the queries terms, and not mine), the data goes something like this:

    Hawaii 0.39
    North Dakota 0.47
    Maine 0.61
    New Hampshire 0.61
    Iowa 0.78
    South Dakota 0.9
    Vermont 1.13
    Utah 1.32
    Oregon 1.49
    Nebraska 1.6
    Massachusetts 1.68
    Minnesota 1.72
    Rhode Island 1.78
    Montana 1.82
    Connecticut 1.89
    Idaho 1.96
    Wyoming 2.17
    Kansas 2.22
    Washington 2.25
    Colorado 2.46
    New York 2.67
    Wisconsin 2.87
    West Virginia 3.16
    New Jersey 3.33
    Florida 3.56
    Ohio 3.56
    Alaska 3.59
    Kentucky 3.64
    Oklahoma 3.85
    Delaware 3.93
    New Mexico 4.02
    Indiana 4.11
    Pennsylvania 4.33
    Texas 4.42
    Illinois 4.47
    Virginia 4.67
    Nevada 4.77
    Georgia 4.82
    Michigan 4.86
    Missouri 5.06
    North Carolina 5.2
    California 5.22
    South Carolina 5.52
    Arkansas 5.56
    Mississippi 6.03
    Tennessee 6.19
    Arizona 6.33
    Alabama 7.03
    Maryland 7.57
    Louisiana 10.17
    District of Columbia 24.4

    By these numbers, the inferences you have advanced clearly have no basis. The District of Columbia, with some of the most draconian firearms laws period (in 2005) is the clear leader, followed by Louisiana, then Maryland (strong gun laws), some other CCW states, then California (strong gun laws) etc. Looking to the other end of the spectrum, the lowest rate of firearm death, there is Hawaii (admittedly anti-gun), followed by North Dakota, Maine, New Hampshire, Iowa, South Dakota, and Vermont -- ALL off which get generally poor rankings from the Brady Campaign with regard to firearms laws. In fact, the lowest scoring state in that bunch looking at the Brady Scorecard, North Dakota, is ranked 44th, and yet it has a very low firearm homicide rate - the 2nd lowest in the nation. The point is that gun homicide has nothing to do with gun laws, as I have asserted before. There is simply to many other factors that play into this. And none of these figures explain why the vast majority of people should have their ability to carry a handgun, and thus defend themselves, restricted or abolished when you can't even show a logical inference between firearms laws and intentional firearms deaths.

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  39. Jman, the statistics we recently listed on Homicides and Suicides Per Capita (All Causes) were provided as a courtesy to Squisher. He requested them in a previous comment. Nonetheless, it was certainly relevant to mention the overwhelming number/percentage of homicides and suicides that involve firearms in our country.

    Thank you for listing the stats on Gun Homicide Per Capita. The state rankings we found at WISQARS were slightly different than yours. Highest to lowest rate, they were as follows: Louisiana, Maryland, Alabama, Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, Missouri, Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Delaware, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Alaska, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, West Virginia, Wisconsin, New York, Colorado, Washington, Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Connecticut, Montana, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Hawaii.

    Of the top 30 states in that group, four have good gun laws (New Jersey, New York, California and Maryland). Two others do not allow individuals to carry concealed handguns (Wisconsin, Illinois). But the overwhelming majority of those states have weak gun laws. Furthermore, it is notable that states like New Jersey and New York, with their significant urban populations, rank in the bottom half on that list (27th and 30th, respectively).

    As for our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia is an entirely urban area that is not a state. Ranking it along with other states—with their mix of urban, suburban and rural populations—is neither a fair nor valid comparison. D.C.’s murder rate ranked 7th in 2006 in comparison with other cities with populations of 250,000 or greater. But it should also be pointed out that 97% of D.C.’s crime guns come from outside states. The truth is that criminals have not been able to obtain firearms in the District of Columbia for the past 30 years precisely because of the “draconian” laws you mention. They instead have routinely exploited the weak gun laws of outside states along America’s “Iron Pipeline,” where guns are illegally trafficked on a daily basis. D.C. residents do not even have voting representation in Congress, much less the ability to affect weak laws in these outside jurisdictions.

    In any case, weak gun laws certainly affect more than homicide rates (although we certainly acknowledge that there are many other factors that affect these rates). Weak gun laws affect all types of gun violence—be it homicide, suicide or accidental death—by failing to limit the access that unauthorized users (be they criminals, traffickers, children, those with mental health issues, or others) have to firearms. And the data shows clearly that states with weak gun laws have higher rates of gun death per capita.

    As for your final point, we live in a representative democracy. Policies regarding the carrying of concealed handguns should be dictated by the will of the American people. As previously mentioned, polls indicate that 94% of Americans feel that concealed handguns have no place on college campuses. - CSGV

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  40. "But the overwhelming majority of those states have weak gun laws."

    Well that makes sense, since 48 states have some for of concealed carry, and 39 states are shall issue (which I'm assuming you would qualify as weak gun law states). So it seems a bit irrational to say the vast majority of states in the top 30 are more homicide prone when in fact 4/5 of the states have the laws you qualify as "weak" overall, and when 6 of the 11 states that are not shall issue are also included in the top 30. Bottom line - guns laws don't correlate directly to crime rates.

    Finally, you still haven't answered my direct questions. You state that "we live in a representative democracy. Policies regarding the carrying of concealed handguns should be dictated by the will of the American people." My question has been and will continue to be "Do you believe that self defense is a constitutional or otherwise fundamental right?" If it is, it should not be subject to the will of the American people other than through amendment of the constitution or barring a compelling government interest narrowly tailored to serve that interest.

    So I'll ask AGAIN in very succinct terms: Do you believe self defense is a constitutional or otherwise fundamental right?

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  41. Thanks for your comment, Jman. Regarding your initial point, we certainly would not describe Wisconsin and Illinois as states with tough gun laws (their polices on concealed carry notwithstanding).

    You will recall that Steven Kazmierczak was able to legally purchase firearms on multiple occasions in Illinois despite that fact that he had attempted suicide three times, taken eight different medications for mental illness, and been institutionalized on five different occasions. The Army had also previously determined that Kazmierczak was a potential danger to himself and others and discharged him from the service after evaluating him in a pscyh ward. Finally, Kazmierczak was obsessed with school shootings like the ones at Columbine and Virginia Tech and talked about them frequently with friends at school.

    And as we noted, two of the states with tough gun laws that you referred to, New Jersey and New York, ranked 27th and 30th, respectively, in terms of Gun Homicide Per Capita in 2005, despite their significant urban populations.

    As for your question about the constitution, we addressed that very early in this thread.

    Justice Scalia was crystal clear on the issue of concealed carry in the majority opinion in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, writing:

    "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    One area of agreement for the nine Justices on the Court (both the majority and dissenting sides) was that policies regarding the carrying of concealed handguns should be dictated by the will of the American people in their respective communities. - CSGV

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  42. Ahh, but you skirt the issue. My question was not whether concealed carry was constitutional. My question was whether self defense was constitutional, and you're right, Justice Scalia was exceptionally clear in this manner. He stated "JUSTICE BREYER’s asser-
    tion that individual self-defense is merely a “subsidiary interest” of the right to keep and bear arms, see post, at 36, is profoundly mistaken. He bases that assertion solely upon the prologue—but that can only show that self-defense had little to do with the right’s codification; it was the central component of the right itself."

    Therefore, self defense is a right centrally protected by the 2nd Amendment. Further, although Justice Scalia did make mention of concealed carry, he did so only in dicta. That is because the Heller case had nothing to do with concealed carry, and therefore any text of the opinion that deals with concealed carry is merely superfluous, and does not need to be followed as controlling in other jurisdictions.

    The dictum passage you cite also seems to be distinctly in conflict with the meaning of the amendment, as Justice Scalia states himself: "When used with “arms,” however, the term has a meaning
    that refers to carrying for a particular purpose—
    confrontation. In Muscarello v. United States, 524 U. S.
    125 (1998), in the course of analyzing the meaning of
    “carries a firearm” in a federal criminal statute, JUSTICE
    GINSBURG wrote that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is,
    as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicate[s]:
    ‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing
    or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and
    ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict
    with another person.’ "

    Here the Heller court clearly lays out that "keep and bear arms" means to "wear, bear, or CARRY" for "confrontation" - "ready for offensive or defensive action."

    Perhaps Justice Scalia put the dicta you cite in the opinion to make sure Justice Kennedy was on board as the swing vote, while in fact that definition of the amendment as he very succinctly states was to allow people arms for confrontation, and not just confrontation in the home (the 2nd Amendment is distinctly void of this language).

    So, upon review, it seems the passage you cite has no actual basis as controlling law, and that the non-dicta portion of the opinion enumerates the possibility of concealed carry, or more probably open carry (which was quite common at the time of the founding) as a right.

    In any event, the opinion does not foreclose that CCW or open carry, and therefore self defense outside of the home, is a right to be voted on by the people outside of the constitutional arena. Just as the incorporation issue was not decided by the Heller court, neither was the carrying of arms outside of the home issue.


    Finally, YOU didn't answer my question, which is does CSGV believe that self defense is a right? Not whether it actually is or not, but does CSGV as a group believe people have a fundamental right to defend themselves.

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  43. Jman, we would disagree that we have "skirted" the issue when the subject of this blog is whether concealed handguns should be allowed on college campuses. That is the issue. And however Justice Scalia defined the purpose of the Second Amendment in Heller, he also made it expressly clear that laws regulating the carrying of concealed handguns are both reasonable and constitutional. Dicta or not, he provided very exact language that future courts are going to have to contend with.

    There is no doubt that Common Law has traditionally recognized a basic right to self defense. The question is the scope of that right. How much force can one use to repel force, and under what circumstances?

    We would agree with Justice Scalia (and the other Justices of the Supreme Court) that whatever self-defense right one finds within Common Law, this in no way precludes legislators from regulating (or even prohibiting) the carrying of concealed firearms in public. - CSGV

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  44. "he also made it expressly clear that laws regulating the carrying of concealed handguns are both reasonable and constitutional."

    First, using the term "expressly clear" in a legal sense is almost a misnomer it simple doesn't exist in the reality of judicial opinions. Second, I'm not sure where you got this language out of the opinion. Justice Scalia said CCW laws "have been upheld" under Second Amendment challenge before, but he does not, at any time, state that they will be upheld in the future or that they are presumptively constitutional. He simply uses CCW laws as an example of a restriction of completely unfettered firearms laws. Reading more into the opinion is wishful thinking, and future courts carefully analyzing the issue are doubtful to find that Heller said CCW laws are constitutional. It is simply not in the text.

    "There is no doubt that Common Law has traditionally recognized a basic right to self defense. The question is the scope of that right. How much force can one use to repel force, and under what circumstances?"

    Surely deadly force can be used against deadly force.

    "We would agree with Justice Scalia (and the other Justices of the Supreme Court) that whatever self-defense right one finds within Common Law, this in no way precludes legislators from regulating (or even prohibiting) the carrying of concealed firearms in public."

    However, the point your missing is that I'm not talking about the common law. Justice Scalia stated in plain terms that self defense is an inherent RIGHT of all people, and that the Second Amendment merely codified that right. A fundamental right, inherent in people, has nothing to do with the "common law." Inherent and fundamental rights cannot be modified through simple legislative action like the common law can, and to the extent that concealed carry laws inhibis self defense as a fundamental right, these laws are not going to be held presumptively constitutional.

    To move off the constitutional issue, because it really gets away from the logic of the argument in its bare form, I again pose the hyothetical I was proposing before:

    What if someone you knew or loved was in a classroom of 100 people when an active shooter walked in with 2 handguns. Would you want a person with a CCW permit and a gun in that room, or would you rather wait the 2-7 minutes (on average) for the police to show up and hope they are alive?

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  45. Jman, the following quote from the Heller decision is on page 2, under holdings:

    "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    That statement is clear on its face. Whatever "fundamental" self-defense right Justice Scalia found, he clearly did not see it as being any bar on laws regulating the carrying of concealed handguns in public. If Students for Concealed Carry on Campus seeks to dispute that point, that is an argument that will have to be taken up with the U.S. Supreme Court, not the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

    As for your final question, we thought our position on this issue was also clear. We agree with the Virginia Tech Review Panel, campus law enforcement across the country, and 94% of Americans that allowing students to carry concealed handguns on campus and use lethal force at their discretion is a bad idea. We believe it would be preferable to have trained law enforcement officers protecting our campuses as opposed to concealed carry permit holders, who are required only to take a day-class of firearm safety training if they are required to have training at all.

    Our campuses are already far safer than America as a whole in part because of their strict gun-free policies. We'd like to keep it that way. - CSGV

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  46. "That statement is clear on its face. Whatever "fundamental" self-defense right Justice Scalia found, he clearly did not see it as being any bar on laws regulating the carrying of concealed handguns in public."

    We're going to have to agree to disagree, but given that disagreement, the only thing that is "clear" is that the opinion is open to multiple interpretations.

    "Our campuses are already far safer than America as a whole in part because of their strict gun-free policies."

    You have no data showing a correlation between the gun-free policy on campus and low crime rates. Period. You can try and make broader generalizations from data not on point here, but the fact remains you don't have any correlative data to suggest campuses are safer because of these policies.

    "As for your final question, we thought our position on this issue was also clear. We agree with the Virginia Tech Review Panel, campus law enforcement across the country, and 94% of Americans that allowing students to carry concealed handguns on campus and use lethal force at their discretion is a bad idea. We believe it would be preferable to have trained law enforcement officers protecting our campuses as opposed to concealed carry permit holders, who are required only to take a day-class of firearm safety training if they are required to have training at all."

    So, what you're essentially saying is that in the event of a campus shooting, you are willing to sacrifice time (that it will take LEO to show up), and therefore most likely peoples lives, in order for the only people to have guns on campus are law enforcement officials. Given that 39 states allow people to use "lethal force at their discretion" while carrying concealed handguns, I find this policy deplorable.

    It appears CSGV is simply untrusting of the vast majority of gun owners, including those who concealed carry, when they have committed no crime and only want to help safeguard themselves and their loved ones.

    With regard to the rebut I'm sure to get regarding your "ordinary people" section, I urge you to compare the number of stories you have (which I assume is well under 100) to the number of people assaulted every year with a deadly weapon who are unable to defend themselves because of laws you advocate. If between 750,000 and 2.5 million people do ACTUALLY defend themselves with weapons, imagine the number of people who are left defenseless.

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  47. Thanks for your comment, Jman. We certainly would like to hear what you think is unclear about the following statement by Justice Scalia in the opinion’s second holding: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Even conservative jurists (such as Reagan-appointed federal appellate judges J. Harvie Wilkinson III and Richard A. Posner, for example) have recognized the obvious meaning of this language.

    Regarding the current homicide rate on our nation’s college campuses, the data shows clearly that it is dramatically lower than the homicide rate for the U.S. as a whole. The gun-free policies of our nation’s colleges and universities have worked well, and campus law enforcement has performed admirably across the nation in keeping students and faculty safe. When a policy has worked exceptionally well and has overwhelming popular support, it is not incumbent on those who implemented the policy to defend it. It is incumbent on those in the small minority who would change it to demonstrate why it needs to be changed, and why their policy alternative(s) would be more effective.

    Instead, you yourself have cited a National Academy of Sciences study that finds no link between concealed carry and reduced crime rates, and which warns, “…increased possession of firearms by potential victims may motivate more criminals to carry firearms and thereby increase the amount of violence that is associated with crime. Moreover, allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons may increase accidental injuries or deaths or increase shootings during arguments.”

    To once again clarify our opposition to concealed handguns on college campuses, what we are saying is allowing individuals who are only required to have a day-class in firearms safety training—if they are required to have training at all—the discretion to use lethal force in situations that are chaotic, terrifying, and challenging even for veteran law enforcement officers is a bad idea. Given that trained law enforcement officers only hit their human targets approximately 28% of the time, what hit ratio can we expect from individuals who receive no law enforcement training whatsoever in their one-time day-class (if they have training at all)?

    We’re reminded of a quote from John C. Cerar, a former commander of the New York Police Department’s firearms training section: “You take Olympic shooters, and they practice all the time, and they can hit a fly off a cow’s nose from 100 yards. But if you put a gun in that cow’s hand, you will get a different reaction from the Olympic shooter.”

    The bottom line is that SCCC’s “More Bullets in the Air” philosophy is deeply disturbing and betrays even the simple laws of physics. The more bullets in the air, the higher the probability that students and/or faculty who are panicking and fleeing for their lives during these incidents will be hit. That SCCC’s advice to their members directly contradicts the advice of campus law enforcement—even on campuses that allow concealed carry—is a red flag that calls their judgment into question.

    We concur with the following viewpoint that was reported by the Virginia Tech Review Panel: “Campus police chiefs in Virginia and many chief level officers in the New York City region who were interviewed voiced concern that as the number of weapons on campuses increase, sooner or later there would be accidents or assaults from people who are intoxicated or on drugs who either have a gun or interact with someone who does. They argued that having more guns on campus poses a risk of leading to a greater number of accidental and intentional shootings than it does in averting some of the relatively rare homicides.” - CSGV

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  48. Regarding our “Ordinary People” series, that series simply chronicles stories about concealed carry permit holders that we continue to see in the media on a regular basis. Most articles about shootings, however, make no mention of whether the perpetrators are permit holders—and such breakdowns are not provided in CDC or FBI data. To make matters worse, the National Rifle Association has drafted laws in several states that prohibit the public from accessing even basic information about permit holders. So the possibility of doing a comprehensive and independent audit of concealed carry permit holders in this country has been ruled out for the time being.

    Nonetheless, one such audit was done in Florida before their NRA law was enacted. That investigation uncovered more than 1,200 permit holders who had previously been found responsible for offenses including assault, burglary, sexual battery, drug possession, child molestation, and homicide.

    Regarding your comments about the 1992 survey by Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University, his estimate of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) per year by “law-abiding” citizens in the United States is greatly at odds with other estimates. Kleck conducted his survey over the telephone and did not require respondents to tie a DGU to a threatened, attempted or completed victimization involving a crime (i.e., rape, robbery, assault, burglary,larceny, motor vehicle theft, etc.).

    Another study by the Department of Justice reported 83,000 annual defensive gun uses by crime victims from 1987-1992 (during same period, there were more than 135,000 total gun deaths and injuries in the U.S. annually).

    Interestingly, the study noted that, "In most cases victims who used firearms to defend themselves or their property were confronted by offenders who were either unarmed or armed with weapons other than firearms." Specifically, only 35% of those who used a firearm in self-defense actually faced an offender who had a gun. DOJ made no judgments in the study as to whether the level of force employed by these individuals was appropriate or consonant with the threat they faced. It may very well be that the presence of firearms in many of these incidents escalated what otherwise might have been non-violent (or non-fatal) encounters.

    In a similar vein, the National Research Council reported that Dr. Kleck's 2.5 million DGU estimate appeared to be exaggerated and that it was almost certain that "some of what respondents designate[d] as their own self-defense would be construed as aggression by others" (Understanding and Preventing Violence, 266, Albert J. Reiss, Jr. & Jeffrey A. Roth, eds., 1992). - CSGV

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  49. I'll respond very succinctly to the comments you made to keep this short...

    "We certainly would like to hear what you think is unclear about the following statement by Justice Scalia in the opinion’s second holding:"

    The part where he says "for example" means he is giving an example of a law that MAY be upheld. He is not saying that all CCW laws will or won't be upheld, he is simply using an example. Apparently people still think "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" is ambiguous, and therefore unclear.

    "The gun-free policies of our nation’s colleges and universities have worked well, "

    This is speculation without any correlative data, again.

    "It is incumbent on those in the small minority who would change it to demonstrate why it needs to be changed, and why their policy alternative(s) would be more effective."

    Why does it need to be changed? So that students like the ones at VT and NIU don't have to sit in a classroom and HOPE they don't get show -- so that those students have some chance of survival in a deadly situation.

    "“…increased possession of firearms by potential victims may motivate more criminals to carry firearms and thereby increase the amount of violence that is associated with crime. Moreover, allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons may increase accidental injuries or deaths or increase shootings during arguments.”

    Notice how each sentence uses the word "may." They are speculating, if you actually read the sentence in context, that it may go one way, it may go another, they don't have the data to show it either way.

    "Given that trained law enforcement officers only hit their human targets approximately 28% of the time, what hit ratio can we expect from individuals who receive no law enforcement training whatsoever in their one-time day-class (if they have training at all)?"

    Some chance at survival is better than no chance. Also, you seem to assume that just because CCW permit holders are only required to go through minimal training that it ends there. I personally, as well as almost all the members of SCCC that I'm on campus with, train monthly and fire several hundred rounds a time. In reality, that is much more than most police officers are required to shoot in a year. Further, you 28% statistic is comparing Apples to Oranges. Police are in very different situations in which their guns must be used. Most armed confrontation involving a private citizen legally using a firearms takes place within a distance of 11 feet. You don't have to be a sharpshooter to defend yourself from that distance.

    "the discretion to use lethal force in situations that are chaotic, terrifying, and challenging"

    You're being shot at. There isn't much discretion that needs to be exercised here. Deadly force is clearly authorized.

    "We’re reminded of a quote from John C. Cerar"

    Wonderful, one quote from one police officer. I can come up with several quotes from police officers and federal officials as to why people should be able to CCW.

    "The more bullets in the air, the higher the probability that students and/or faculty who are panicking and fleeing for their lives during these incidents will be hit."

    As opposed to what? One person systematically killing a whole room of people unfettered? I'd much rather have bullets "flying" both ways and know I have a chance than hoping the bullets that are coming my way don't hit me.

    "That SCCC’s advice to their members directly contradicts the advice of campus law enforcement—even on campuses that allow concealed carry—is a red flag that calls their judgment into question."

    Simply a false statement. SCCC doesn't give instruction on what their members should do in the event of an active shooter. SCCC simply advocates for the changing of laws and policies to allow people to defend themselves. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, I have yet to find a single person in SCCC who wouldn't use deadly force as a last resort. I doubt you can find a person either.

    "“Campus police chiefs in Virginia and many chief level officers in the New York City region who were interviewed voiced concern that as the number of weapons on campuses increase, sooner or later there would be accidents or assaults from people who are intoxicated or on drugs who either have a gun or interact with someone who does."

    Blanket statements, no evidence. All of the Utah Colleges, CSU, and BRCC have had no incidents regarding the lawful use or carrying of firearms on their campuses. You can call their campus law enforcement if you want verification. SCCC has.

    "That investigation uncovered more than 1,200 permit holders who had previously been found responsible for offenses including assault, burglary, sexual battery, drug possession, child molestation, and homicide."

    All of these people, regardless of having a CCW permit, and not allowed to have any contact with a firearm under federal law. They are criminals -- whether they commit murder or rape, they don't care about laws. So why not give people who do follow the law the ability to defend themselves?

    "Regarding your comments about the 1992 survey by Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University, his estimate of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) per year by “law-abiding” citizens in the United States is greatly at odds with other estimates."

    Notice that I said "between 750,000 and 2.5 million". I was not referring to the Kleck study on it's own, but a combination of 7 studies that estimates the number of defensive gun uses per year.

    "Another study by the Department of Justice reported 83,000 annual defensive gun uses by crime victims from 1987-1992 "

    These numbers do not include numbers of unreported incidents, of which there are many. For example, I had a knife pulled on me by someone in their late teens outside a mall. I drew my weapon in a controlled manner and he took off. No shots fired. No police reports. And a crime averted.

    ""In most cases victims who used firearms to defend themselves or their property were confronted by offenders who were either unarmed or armed with weapons other than firearms."

    A firearm or other weapon is not needed for deadly force to be used. In most states, either the threat of great bodily harm, or other factors, can be used to make a person reasonably believe their life is in grave danger. Think of a woman getting mugged and about to be raped by the assailant, a 250 pound male, doesn't have a gun. Is your position that deadly force should not be authorized here?

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  50. Jman, can you produce any evidence that Utah's colleges, Colorado State University, and Blue Ridge Community College have had no incidents regarding the lawful use or carrying of firearms on their campuses? You mentioned that SCCC has called campus law enforcement at these schools. Can you provide us with the names of the officers they spoke to and the dates of those conversations? Thank you. - CSGV

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  51. What your asking me to do is prove a negative -- that somehow the universities produce statistics to show that something doesn't happen. As I'm sure you know, this doesn't happen.

    What I can say is that one of the officers of SCCC has contacted all the Universities to obtain this information, and it has been widely reported and un-contradicted by several major news media sources nationwide, including being used in TV interviews on CNN, NBC, and FoxNews. Given your assertion that "most police forces are against this policy", it would seem that if information did exist to show that guns were causing problems on these campuses, the administrators of these campuses would have come out and called SCCC on this data in an effort to change the policies of laws allowing CCW on campus.

    As for names and dates, I'll attempt to retrieve that information.

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  52. Jman, could you also provide hyperlinks to the media reports you mentioned that state that the Utah colleges, Colorado State University, and Blue Ridge Community College have had no incidents regarding the lawful use or carrying of firearms on their campuses? We're assuming that these reports had a primary source and were based on more than the unsubstantiated claim from SCCC.

    We have not been able to find a single shred of evidence to back up this claim anywhere. - CSGV

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  53. Actually what I was referring to was interviews in which SCCC was a party. These statistics were brought up in the interviews, and have been commonly used by SCCC media officials. No one has refuted them. None of the universities have come out and said the claim isn't true (because, in fact, they provided the data to say it is true), no news agency has said otherwise, and no anti-gun group (or otherwise) has been able to produce evidence of a single instance of gun-violence or mishandling on these campuses. Again, I can't prove a negative other than going to the source (the universities themselves) and getting the information. If there were incidents otherwise, I would have expected them to be in the news, which they have not been.

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  54. Let's take all the thousands of carefully chosen words above and set them aside for a moment. Now picture a classroom. In walks a gunman planning to kill some or all of the people in that room.

    People scatter, hide under/behind desks, do whatever they can when the gunman begins to fire. I find what cover I can, draw my sidearm, aim, and return fire. From that moment forward, the gunman must maintain focus on me or die. As long as I can function, he/she cannot safely spend any time trying to harm others.

    Remember when you quoted, "You take Olympic shooters, and they practice all the time, and they can hit a fly off a cow’s nose from 100 yards. But if you put a gun in that cow’s hand, you will get a different reaction from the Olympic shooter."

    Your shooter now faces a trained, determined, armed cow. If the cow's initial shots (three in quick succession, two to center of mass, one to the head) haven't stopped the threat, the cow's already on the move, and the clock is ticking. The shooter's rattled will be very, very busy *not* killing other students for awhile.

    Perhaps the police arrive before one or both of us are out of commission. Or perhaps someone "wins." Whatever the case, time has been bought for the unarmed students. Maybe enough time.

    And that's my main point: Once someone engages the shooter, he has to stop harming others until that threat is gone.

    Afterwards, people can resume discussing statistics and how this situation could have been avoided, how it might be avoided in the future. My gut says there *will* be another classroom with a gunman in it. I hope there will be someone else with a firearm to stop him or keep him busy, because at that moment, all the numbers and statistics and "mays" are worthless.

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  55. Jman, there were no statistics brought up in these SCCC interviews because there have been no statistics released by the Utah colleges, Colorado State University, and Blue Ridge Community College to indicate that they have had no incidents regarding the lawful use or carrying of firearms on their campuses.

    The data they have released does not break down offenders to indicate whether the hold a CCW permit nor does it detail stolen property to indicate whether or not firearms were stolen. If you have data that indicates otherwise (for any of these 11 schools), please provide a source(s).

    No one's asking you to prove a negative - we're asking you to provide evidence to support a positive claim that SCCC has made which is totally unsubstantiated with no source behind it. You've indicated that SCCC got this information directly from the schools involved. What officers did they speak to at these schools and on what dates?

    As for why campus police at these schools haven't spoken publicly on this matter, it's likely because 10 of the 11 schools involved are subject to NRA-drafted state laws that protect the identities of concealed carry permit holders. Those codes are as follows:

    Utah (Utah Code Ann. §53-5-708(1)). Under Title 53 of Utah’s Annotated Code, Public Safety Code.

    Colorado (Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-12-206(a)-(b)). Title 18 of Colorado’s Annotated Code, Criminal Code.

    In Virginia, Attorney General Bob McDonnell issued an advisory opinion on April 6, 2007, stating that the concealed carry database was assembled solely for investigative purposes and, therefore, is exempted from the Commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act.

    So these schools would undoubtedly have to consider the legal repercussions of releasing such data. - CSGV

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  56. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. You have reinforced the central point of our blog, which is that Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) and their supporters seem to have a greatly inflated sense of confidence in their ability to handle active shooter situations, and a reckless disregard for the potential for collateral damage.

    The quote we cited from John C. Cerar, the retired commander of the New York Police Department’s firearms training section, was attempting to explain why trained law enforcement officers in New York City only hit their human targets only 28.6% of the time in 2006. Even at a range of zero to six feet, there was only a 43% accuracy rate during the year. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly had the following to say about these results: “When you factor in all of the other elements that are involved in shooting at an adversary, that’s a high hit rate. The adrenaline flow, the movement of the target, the movement of the shooter, the officer, the lighting conditions, the weather ... I think it is a high rate when you consider all of the variables.”

    New York City Police Officers receive extensive firearms training before ever joining the force and then are required to qualify with their sidearm two times per year once serving the public. The maximum firearms safety training requirement for concealed carry permit holders in this country is a single day-class (in many cases, these classes are only required to be 2-4 hours long). Several states have no training requirement for permit holders whatsoever.

    The logical question is what will their hit ratio be on college campuses?

    Your hypothetical active shooter scenario seems to make a number of favorable assumptions:

    • We are to assume that the concealed carry permit holder is a “trained” and competent marksman, even though several states require no training for a CCW permit and those that do only require a few hours of training.

    • We are to assume that all the other students in the classroom quickly and easily find cover, providing the “good guy” with a clear line of fire to his target. We are also to assume that the “good guy” himself quickly and easily finds cover. The potential for collateral damage in this type of situation—as students panic and flee for their lives—is not even mentioned.

    • We are to assume that the concealed carry permit holder fires three times at his target with a clear line of fire and likely hits all three times (“three in quick succession, two to center of mass, one to the head”), even though trained law enforcement officers have low hit ratios even at point blank range.

    • We are to assume that actual law enforcement officers arriving on the scene are going to be able to identify their target even if they encounter multiple students with handguns drawn (by that token, we are also being asked to assume that the other students in the classroom are going to be able to readily identify the “bad guy” with multiple individuals shooting).

    • We are to assume that with more bullets flying in a confined space (as a second shooter now opens fire), that somehow there will be no collateral damage done to other students or faculty.

    The reason that the Virginia Tech Review Panel and campus law enforcement across the country oppose SCCC’s agenda is because they assume none of these best-case scenarios. They understand that active shooter situations in reality are unpredictable, chaotic and extremely dangerous. That is why law enforcement trains extensively to handle these specific types of incidents, and why “individual action is discouraged” by trained law enforcement professionals, “as it is usually counterproductive to a coordinated, focused response to an active shooter event.” – CSGV

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  57. I have a CHL license and I don't want to be a swat team. I'm not going to go looking for trouble. If someone starts shooting I am going to lock the door and hide behind my desk. But if he manages to still get in you can believe me I will shoot him. That is all I want is to allow myself to take responsibility for my own safety.

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  58. Seriously...reading through the post I see a plethora of statistics concerning different stances on concealed gun permits. I even saw a comparison to other countries whose cultures are completely different from our own.

    SGV I would like to invite you to come to my campus someday, Virginia Tech. I would like you to sit in Norris hall with a stop watch. Maybe with the cooperation of the Virginia Tech campus police and Blacksburg Police Department we can see the length of time required for police to respond to Norris hall. (By the way, both police stations are North of Norris: VTPD is on the complete other side of campus, while BPD is an equal distance NW). While you are sitting there with the stop watch running, you should calculate how many bullets from the 2 guns Cho was carrying could have been unloaded in your body and others who you may share the building with.

    Next think about how the doors to the building were locked through the use of chains. Even if a police officer was brave enough to barge into such a situation, he would be foolish as barging in would surely determine his fate.
    So what could the officer do but to create a perimeter and wait for more information.

    Next think about how any legislative improvements you could make would not retroactively prevent a situation, we still are faced with arms in the wrong hands even if there was a perfect gun law to come out tomorrow.

    Now tell me you wouldn't like to improve your chances of survival.

    Honestly I hope no one has to face a situation like we did or NIU or Columbine... but the reality is we live in an imperfect world where bad people will do bad things. Completely relying on the law enforcement to prevent such a situation is socially irresponsible. Every single second counts....every single second is nearly half a clip being unloaded into someone.

    By no means am I bashing the police. I am an emergency volunteer - I know we all did the best thing we can do. But 911 doesn't have a psychic ability to dispatch a responsive force before an incident.


    Yes I agree there needs to be better gun control. Yes I agree students should be identified for risk.

    I do not believe making the victims even more defenseless is a good idea. But I do not think everyone should be allowed to have a concealed permit on campus. Being on this campus for the last 6 years has taught me many college students like to party. I would want to be sitting next to my hangover classmate who is packing a loaded gun.

    However, VT does have a unique situation where we also have a corps of cadets. In the unique situation of Virginia Tech, I would have no problem having a cadet carrying a loaded gun to class.

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  59. Blake,

    The argument that criminals can just get guns off the street and nothing can be done about it is very cynical.

    Why do people who hold this view generally oppose mandatory background checks for all gun sales and a requirement to report lost or stolen guns?

    The only effect any of these measures have on the gun owner is at the most inconvenience. Gun owners may have to wait a few minutes to have their background check process or spend some time on the phone to report a missing gun to the police, but in the end a few minutes is a small price to a pay for being granted the huge responsibility of safely carrying a gun.

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