Friday, March 7, 2008

We All Know Where Good Intentions Lead

I recently heard a state legislator, apparently one of many on our side, who opposed the hearing of a bill in our state legislature allowing Oklahoma university students to carry concealed weapons on campus. His reasoning for this was founded in the entirely fictional premise of a mentally unstable person having a concealed weapon in class and using it to shoot up his classmates.

Okay, I know you’re going to skip the rest of this and flame me regarding Virginia Tech and such. I truly believe that this legislator only has the best intentions for protecting students’ safety. But there are some fundamental problems with the example he gave, mostly regarding the person with a concealed carry permit.

First of all, such a bill would not allow Joe Blow to carry an AK47 slung over his shoulder to Comp I. It merely extends the already existing right of Oklahoma citizens to have a concealed carry permit and operate in accordance with it to include a college campus. There is a major difference there. In case any of you haven’t applied for a concealed carry permit in Oklahoma, which is probably most of you, let me give a brief outline.

Getting a Concealed Carry permit isn’t as easy as getting a driver’s license. You have to pass a background check. You have to be fingerprinted. You have to shell out a couple hundred dollars to cover the class and fees and whatnot. You take the class after signing up for it up to three months in advance. Then you take the test, both a paper test and a shooting test. If you last through all that (and a lot don’t) then after several weeks of waiting, you get your concealed carry permit, which allows you to discreetly carry a weapon any place where it is not explicitly prohibited. The emphasis is on “discreetly,” as a person with a concealed carry permit cannot make it obvious in any way, by word or deed, that they are carrying a concealed weapon. They are only allowed to draw it in public for the express purpose of self-defense or the defense of others.

The process takes several months, and a person in an unstable or emotionally charged condition would probably not go through such a process in order to “sneak” a weapon onto campus. And let’s face it, if someone is deranged or disturbed and determined to hurt people, will the simple legal prohibition of a handgun keep them from using a gun? As we saw with Virginia Tech, it certainly does not.

While this legislator is well-meaning, he is obviously uninformed about the nature of concealed carry. The situation at Virginia Tech would not be replicated merely because of a single piece of legislation allowing students with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons to school, because the gunman at Virginia Tech did not have a concealed carry permit. Yes, he legally owned a gun, but he did not have a concealed carry permit. They are not the necessarily synonymous.

One of the other points this legislator made was, if “everybody” had a gun in class (hyperbole his) and the police showed up to an emergency situation, how would they know the difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”? The policemen will be “nervous and jumpy” and “will shoot whoever has a gun because they won’t be able to tell who’s who.” (Sounds like he has less faith in our law enforcement than in John Q. Citizen.)

It’ll be pretty easy to figure out who the “good guys” are. They will be the ones the other students are thanking for taking down the gunman before he had a chance to kill them.

I can’t deny I have an emotional stake in this. It may have been natural for this representative to have such a fearful reaction because he is unaware of the process involved in getting a concealed carry permit. But it is also likely that he was never in a personal situation that makes such legislation seem necessary.

A year ago, I was the female college student who had to walk across campus to the library after dark, knowing that the only thing standing between me and harm’s way, at best, is an overweight security guard, his golf cart and his walkie-talkie. In my junior year, a female student at my school was attacked in her dorm room in the middle of the afternoon. She was raped and brutally beaten. And she, simply for being a college student in her dorm room, was denied the choice of having the most effective instrument for self-defense at her disposal. I didn’t know the girl personally, and I can’t say that, given the opportunity, she would or would not have chosen to have a firearm in her room to protect herself. The point is, the chance to make that decision for herself was denied her.

This is one boat the feminists have missed. Right to Carry is one of the most fundamental woman’s rights issue there is, especially for female college students. It offends me deeply that a person claiming conservatism has the gaul to stand up and say that I should be denied my second amendment right to protect myself by having a concealed weapon, should I so choose, simply because of geography. I am resentful that a university administrator or a legislator or anyone seems to think that it’s okay to deliberately put me and my fellow female college students in the position of a victim because of nonsensical “what ifs.” This is a deliberate, intentional action on their part with little regard for the safety and welfare of students, both male and female.

Maybe if we allow qualified, trained citizens to exercise their right to concealed carry, we’ll have fewer professors throwing themselves in front of flying bullets to protect their students. Maybe female students will be able to act in their own defense, rather than being forced to rely on others. Maybe the next time a Virginia Tech happens, only one person will die – the gunman.

Yes, I just substituted his “what ifs” with my own “maybes.” But given the choice, I’d rather have legislation that lends more weight toward mine than his.

However, given legislators such as this, the chance for the voices of the people to be heard about this issue will have to limited to blogs and talk radio. How sad.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Preach it!