America's colleges and universities are under attack from the gun lobby.
Following mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 (32 students and faculty killed and 15 wounded) and Northern Illinois University in 2008 (six students killed and 16 wounded), the gun lobby is pushing legislation that would prohibit colleges and universities from maintaining gun-free campuses.
The proposed legislation would allow conceal/carry license holders, including students, to keep guns in their student dormitory rooms, and carry concealed handguns on campus in classrooms, at sporting events, and other school activities.
The gun lobby argues that college campuses would be safer if students and other private citizens (faculty, staff, and visitors) were allowed to carry concealed weapons. However, a growing body of evidence shows that conceal/carry permit holders are a threat to public safety. Current background check systems are simply inadequate to weed out all potentially dangerous individuals who apply for and are issued permits to carry.
A recent study by the Violence Policy Center found that during the period May 2007 through October 2009, conceal/carry permit holders killed eight law enforcement officers and 77 private citizens (including 10 shooters who killed themselves after the attack). In addition, permit holders committed at least eight mass shootings (three or more victims).
In addition, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and more than 90 colleges and universities from 24 states have signed a resolution by the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus that they are opposed to legislation that would mandate that colleges and universities allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus. View the list at www.gunfreekids.org/campaigns.
Opinions aside, the gun lobby's plan is not practical. For example, will every class have a designated shooter? What about classes where no conceal/carry license holder signs up?
What about freshman and sophomore classes where students are generally not old enough (21 in most states) to obtain a permit to carry?
Nonetheless, legislation to allow guns on college campuses has been introduced in at least 12 states, including Michigan, so far in 2009. So how does this legislation get legs in so many states?
The answer is that this legislation is not about safety. The gun lobby is not interested in the safety of students, faculty, and staff.
They are only interested in being able to carry concealed handguns in public places where they are currently prohibited from carrying in many states schools, churches, hospitals, government buildings, courthouses, bars, and public parks.
They are using the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University as cover for their real agenda which is to push guns into every nook and cranny of society.
One can only hope that lawmakers are intelligent enough to see through their scheme.
The answer to gun violence is not more guns.
About the author: John Johnson is a retired mechanical engineer. He served as director of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence from 2000-2006. He is currently outreach coordinator for the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, a project of GunFreeKids.org, on the Web at: www.gunfreekids.org
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