The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

64° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Give guns a chance

    Recently, there’s been talk up at the copper dome about amending Arizona law with SB 1214, a bill that would allow the concealed carry of guns on public college campuses.

    Many people, fixated on recent college-campus shooting sprees, are up in figurative arms about the proposed change. Last week’s tragic Northern Illinois University incident is just the latest deadly college shooting, despite a sub-one-minute police response and a slew of lockdown policies enacted after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Could legalizing concealed weapons on our campus make a change in crime patterns, or prevent tragedies like NIU’s? Certainly: The guns are already here, crime is already happening and legalizing concealed carry can only make things the same or better, not worse.

    How different would the UA campus look if licensed Arizonans were allowed to carry concealed weapons on school property? It would look just as it does now. People could be carrying weapons on campus today without anybody knowing. Concealed weapons are just that: concealed. The average person often can’t tell the difference between someone carrying and someone not. Police officers can differentiate, but only after a thorough pat-down. But who has ever seen University of Arizona Police Department officers frisking students outside the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center?

    The people who carry guns on campus now are doing so illegally and the police have little recourse to prevent it. The only time illegally armed individuals are caught for such is when they’re already being detained by police for another crime; making concealed carry legal for licensed permit-holders won’t keep our police from making these worthy apprehensions. What it would do is allow law-abiding concealed-carry of weapons (CCW) permit holders, the best kind of gun carrier, to pack heat on campus.

    Are concealed weapons permit holders different from the rest of us? Of course they are. Arizona’s CCW licensing process is much more selective than other states’ gun ownership permitting process (the kind held by NIU gunman Kazmierczak). After proving legal age (21 years), paying a course fee (around $50), passing an eight-hour Department of Public Safety-approved technique-and-law course, passing an extensive background check and paying a permit fee to the state ($60), an Arizonan may carry a gun discreetly. It takes significantly more time, money and energy than simply using the right to openly carry a gun, which is allowed in Arizona and simply requires you to be of legal age. With such an easy option, it’s doubtful that many hot-headed machismos choose the former. CCW permit holders are more dedicated, informed and trained than the common gun owner simply by virtue of having gone through the demanding permitting process.

    CCW permit holders have already proven their commitment to doing things the right, legal way by going through the arduous, expensive process of CCW licensing. They are the goody-two-shoes of the gun-owning populace. An analysis of Florida crime patterns by law professor John Lott found that between 1987 (when Florida began issuing CCW permits) and 1996, only 18 CCW licensees, out of a statewide total of 221,443 permit holders, had committed a gun crime. In 1996 alone, there were over 37,000 gun crimes in Florida, prompting the conclusion that average citizens are more prone to committing gun crime than permit holders.

    Many will raise the argument, “”Why does anyone need a gun on campus in the first place?”” They should mind their own damn business – exercising a right requires no justification, though many could be made. Others will raise the argument, “”Letting guns on campus means people will shoot each other over stupid disagreements or psychological snaps.”” They already do – don’t we remember the shootings at the UA College of Nursing (2002), No Anchovies (2004), and the Kappa Alpha (2005) and Fiji (2006) fraternities? Violent crime can also happen without guns, like the unfortunate and deadly stabbing incident at Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall last fall. A weapons ban will stop a conscientious gun-carrying citizen, but it won’t stop a rampage or a determined killer. Violent crime is happening now, despite the force-field of “”Weapons-Free Campus”” stickers plastered across the university, and will keep happening whether or not we legalize concealed carry.

    The people we should be worried about are those who don’t care if it’s legal. Those people are among us now, and will be regardless of whether the law changes. With or without legal concealed carry, the world and the university will be a dangerous place. Of course, in today’s political climate, SB 1214 will pass right after hell freezes over. Its only hope is for citizens and legislators to acknowledge the failure of the on-campus gun ban and decide to try a change. Let’s buck up as Arizonans and as Americans, respect CCW permit holders’ hard-earned rights and give guns a chance.

    Mike Hathaway is a senior majoring in geography and Spanish and Portuguese. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search