New piece at Townhall: Given Their Fear of Guns, How Have Professors Ever Gone Off Campus?
Dr. John Lott has a new piece at Townhall.
For decades, gun control advocates constantly claim that Right-to-Carry laws would lead to disaster. But when disasters don’t occur they move on to the next prediction of disaster. We have to keep track of these predictions if only to judge how much weight to give to their erroneous predictions.
Montana is the latest state to let people carry concealed handguns on college campuses, and the state Board of Regents for the university system demanded an emergency stay from the state Supreme Court because “serious harm is threatened” if the law goes into effect on June 1. The Regents took a real gamble in using such apocalyptic language because the state Supreme Court didn’t grant them their stay. After the law goes into effect and there are none of their predicted problems, what happens to their case?
One wonders if left-leaning professors and college students in a state like Montana feel safe going off campus. Whether they go to a restaurant, movie theater, or grocery store, they are very likely to find themselves next to someone who is legally carrying a gun.
But seven percent of Montanans already possess concealed handgun permits, and students and faculty somehow manage to leave campus.
Gun control advocates don’t understand that criminals seek out targets where victims can’t defend themselves — that gun-free zones make targets more attractive to criminals. It is no accident that 94% of mass public shootings occur where victims are disarmed.
Montanans were supposed to be able to carry concealed handguns at college campuses starting June 1, but Montana’s Board of Regents filed a legal challenge with the state Supreme Court to the new law last Thursday.
Faculty and staff worry that students who are angry about grades might shoot professors. The academic community, they argue, will be afraid to openly discuss issues for fear of harm. So it will be difficult to hire faculty, and students will be scared away.
The new law “targets our Montana University System students, and public education itself . . . This will not only kill students, but also the future of public education in Montana,” wrote University of Montana professor Doug Coffin. “Residence halls are incredibly dense living spaces, and by their nature they are an incredibly dangerous place for the possession of firearms,” assertedLindy Kolb, an Montana State University student.
Eleven other states mandate that concealed handgun permit holders must be allowed to carry on public college campuses. Twenty-three other states leave the decision up to individual colleges.
Professors in state after state have predicted that these laws will be disastrous. In 2015, Dan Hamermesh, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas, was quoted in international news stories after speculating, “a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law.” According to the University of Texas at Austin’s “Campus Carry Policy Working Group,” people thought it would “impede the University’s ability to recruit and retain students, faculty, and staff.”
But no permit holder has ever shot a faculty member. Among campuses that allow concealed carry, not one has ever experienced a violent shooting by someone who was legally carrying. There have been a few accidental discharges, but none were life-threatening.
Permit holders have been extremely law-abiding, with permits being revoked for firearms-related violations at rates of thousandths or tens-of-thousandths of one percentage point. Civilian permit holders are convicted of firearms violations at one-seventh the rate of police officers.
Texas’ public universities started allowing concealed carry in 2016, and enrollment has risen every year from the fall of 2015 to the fall of 2019(up by a total of 6% at four-year universities) %), and SAT scores rose by 7%. You will search in vain for any stories from the last few years of faculty leaving because of campus carry policies.
In a filing with the Montana Supreme Court, the Board of Regents argue that Montana’s 1972 constitutional convention vested it with the “full power, responsibility, and authority” to manage the Montana University System. But this “full power” comes with limitations. Obviously, the Regents can’t decide to hold criminal trials without juries or execute people for speech it doesn’t like. Both the Montana and Federal constitutions protect the rights to speech and jury trials, and they also protect people’s right to self-defense.
If liberal academics really believed their claims about guns, they would have left states like Montana or Texas or any of the other right-to-carry states long ago. The most ardent gun-control advocate would never put “Gun-Free Zone” signs on their home, so let’s stop putting them elsewhere.John R. Lott, Jr., “Given Their Fear of Guns, How Have Professors Ever Gone Off Campus?” Townhall, May 28, 2021.