Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Case For More Guns by Jeffrey Goldberg

Jeffrey Goldberg has a pretty good column in an unexpected venue: The Atlantic magazine:
Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. (The number of people allowed to carry concealed weapons is actually considerably higher than 8 million, because residents of Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and parts of Montana do not need government permission to carry their personal firearms.
Goldberg discusses a particular type of Victim Disarmament Zone, the college/university campus:
Universities, more than most other institutions, are nearly unified in their prohibition of licensed concealed-carry weapons. Some even post notices stating that their campuses are gun-free zones. At the same time, universities also acknowledge that they are unable to protect their students from lethal assault. How do they do this? By recommending measures that students and faculty members can take if confronted by an “active shooter”...

Here are some of the recommendations:

Wichita State University counsels students in the following manner: “If the person(s) is causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide you may choose to be compliant, play dead, or fight for your life.”
I'm not sure what it means to be compliant with an active shooter. Does it mean borrowing a lipstick and drawing concentric circles on your chest or face? What if the only lipstick available is green, or black? Also unanswered: What if the only person carrying a concealed lipstick is already bleeding on the floor, and doesn't respond to your request? Are you allowed to rummage through her purse? Is the shooter required to pause while you do so?
The University of Miami guidelines suggest that when all else fails, students should act “as aggressively as possible” against a shooter. The guidelines...also recommend...“yelling.”
Does yelling constitute complying? I don't think so. Maybe it comes under "fighting for your life".
Otterbein University, in Ohio, tells students to “breathe to manage your fear” and informs them, “You may have to take the offensive if the shooter(s) enter your area. Gather weapons (pens, pencils, books, chairs, etc.) and mentally prepare your attack.”

West Virginia University advises students that if the situation is dire, they should “act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.” These items could include “student desks, keys, shoes, belts, books, cell phones, iPods, book bags, laptops, pens, pencils, etc.”
Throw my belt? Wouldn't I be better off holding the tail and hitting said active shooter on the head with the buckle? Will I be opening myself up for disciplinary action if I hit him with a deadly assault phone? And if a student desk isn't close to hand, may I throw a student?
The University of Colorado at Boulder’s guidelines state, “You and classmates or friends may find yourselves in a situation where the shooter will accost you. If such an event occurs, quickly develop a plan to attack the shooter … Consider a plan to tackle the shooter, take away his weapon, and hold him until police arrive.”
Possibly it didn't occur to any of those writing the recommendations to suggest the students stand up and open a dialog with the shooter to discover his needs, wants, fears, and to discuss in a calm, respectful, and mutually nurturing manner the possible consequences of perpetuating the cycle of violence. Then shoot him.

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