Alright, for those who may be wondering what all the hubbub is about Texas today, it relates to a law which was passed there. This law, referred to as Campus Carry. Campus Carry allows for students who have concealed carry permits to have their weapons on their person while on college campuses.
Ok, we are discussing 2nd amendment rights here. While that is a debate for another time, I want to focus on the fact that we are discussing college campuses. Is this really a place where you need your weapon to be safe?
Well, the answer is apparently yes, though personally I’m a bit more nervous than that.These are students who come together to learn. They come to campuses patrolled in the case of these public institutions by full police departments. These departments work closely with the local police and sheriff departments. These are the folks trained to assist and protect.
Of course we are discussing concealed carry here, so whats the big deal? Well the law requires these weapons be allowed in most spaces on campus. Universities were allowed to petition for certain areas to be banned, but could not make sweeping calls such as ‘all guns banned from residence halls and classrooms.’ No, such ideas as keeping weapons out and off campuses seems to be a bad idea to the state legislature. Of course with the brash of campus shootings, which have been on a huge upswing since the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting (as have mass shootings on the whole, but that is beside the point at the moment), we have seen the call for weapons to be allowed on campuses as a safety measure. “If there were more armed people, the shooter would not have done xyz.” Yes, because obviously an untrained civilian (ever looked into the requirements to get a concealed carry permit? I wouldn’t trust someone with that little bit of training to handle a bullet) is obviously prepared to react in high stress situations in a calm cool and collected manner.
More so, what happens when the cops arrive and there are three people holding guns? ‘well they handle the one everyone else is aiming at’ which is great if everyone is on the same page. But stress does strange things to people and like I said, I don’t trust these untrained folks. Which, to be fair, is not to say I don’t trust anyone. It is just there are a lot more people I do not trust than people I do.
To the point, let’s address another controversy that has arisen with the date chosen to implement this law. August 1st, 2016. If you are wondering why that date is significant, look back for news on August 1st, 1966. See, before that, campus shootings did not happen. Not only that, but unless you go back to the days of duels (yes, 10 paces, turn and shoot) there was no precedent for campus shootings. But on August 1st, 1966, that all changed. On that day, 50 years ago today, in fact, the first capus shooting occurred. Exactly 50 years before the enforcement of campus carry, Charles Whitman, an ex-marine and architecture engineering student, strolled into the University of Texas Tower and proceeded to shoot 43 people, 13 of which died.
So why do I bring up this instant? Well, besides the fact of the incredibly poor planning by the Texas state government on their enforcement of this law (planned or not, really? NO ONE CAUGHT THAT?!?!?) there was something else unique about the case. See, Ramiro Martinez claimed after the even that it was the armed civilians who made taking down Whitman possible. So read the stories. There is actual notes of one armed civilian. His name was Allen Crum. He was armed and appeared professional. As such, with no questions asked, he joined the three officers who were entering the tower to take down Whitman. But Crum, he was a retired Air Force Tail Gunner. He was trained and had more likely than not survived more high stress situations than the officers. But guess what, even Crum messed up. The officers took advantage of it and were able to take down Whitman, but Crum accidentally discharged his weapon. Thankfully they were on the 28th floor of the tower and his shot did not harm anyone else, but it did distract Whitman, allowing the two officers from another position to fire on Whitman. One of those was Martinez. Martinez unloaded his pistol, missing with every shot. The man beside him, Houston McCoy, proceeded to shoot Whitman twice with 00-buckshot with his 12-gauge shotgun. These were the two fatal shots. After this, Martinez proceeded to take the shotgun from McCoy, walk over and shoot Whitman at point blank, then drop the gun and run out of the tower screaming “I got him!”
I tell you this to say that even the man probably most prepared for the insanity messed up. He was lucky the officers were able to react and take advantage of his misstep. Then we come to Martinez, the one claiming it was armed civilians who made things happen. While he was right about Crum, his reactions to the situation do leave one wondering about his ability to recall the situation perfectly.
Look, I’m not here to argue one way or another about 2nd amendment rights. That is another debate. What I am here to ask is for you to consider the role, if any, which weapons have on a college campus. Is there a place?
I posted this on facebook, but I want everyone to know:
To all my colleagues in Texas, my thoughts are with you today. It is a new and strange chapter in higher education.
Just remember you have the strength and support you need from all of us.