Amitai Etzioni “argues” in an opinion column today against allowing university students and professors the opportunity to defend themselves by carrying firearms concealed on campus.
The drafters of these bills seem to have an image of peaceful students, bent over their books, suddenly attacked by gunslingers who materialize from nowhere. They ignore that students can and do shoot people on campus.
Surely Mr. Etzioni is mistaken; guns aren’t allowed on campus now, so no one could have been shot. Why, in order to shoot someone on campus, someone would have to break the law forbidding guns on campus (and, of course, those other pesky laws against minor actions like assault and murder).
Not that I want “stable” students to carry guns. I have used firearms in close-range combat, but only after extensive training. And I still saw quite a few of my fellow combatants miss their targets and wind up with their bullets flying all over the place. This also happened with more of mine than I care to admit. If students are going to fire at intruders in their classroom, I’ll bet my last dollar that they will bring down more of their friends than they will gunslingers. As for the professors, I have spent a lifetime among them. Trust me: Most of them come from the gang that can’t shoot straight.
And here we have the always popular argument from authority; even people trained for combat (like Mr. Etzioni) miss their targets in the heat of the moment, so no one should be allowed to means to defend themselves. They might miss the attacker, or hit someone else! Mass shooters like VT’s Cho don’t shoot a bunch of people and then wait around for the police; active shooters kill until they run out of bullets, kill themselves, or are stopped (by bystanders or the police).
And then, ten paragraphs in, we get to the real reason he wrote this piece (and CNN published it):
What should be done? Make guns less accessible, not more.
He trots out some statistics about high-income countries and firearm homicide rates, attributing them to “one study;” he doesn’t name the study, or say when it was done.
Mr. Etzioni also argues that guns are deserving of more restriction than knives, saying,
And no one can go to the top of the University of Texas clock tower and kill 16 people with a knife or wrench. Nor could Seung-Hui Cho have killed 32 people and injured 18 others at Virginia Tech with a knife instead of two handguns.
In notoriously gun-unfriendly Japan in June 2008, one man went through the Akihabara shopping district intent on mayhem; after driving a truck into the crowd (killing three people and injuring two more), he fatally stabbed four people and wounded another eight. No gun used, but he still killed seven and wounded ten.
In Osaka in 2001, another Japanese man went to the school where he was employed as a janitor, stabbed eight children to death, and wounded thirteen more. With a kitchen knife.
In China in April 2010, a Chinese man entered a school and stabbed twenty-eight people. The second paragraph reads, “It was the second mass stabbing of students in two days, and the third in less than a month.”
Banning guns (whether banning all private ownership, like China, or merely making it onerous, like Japan) won’t stop people intent on murder; allowing guns on campus would let those who choose to carry legally to do so.
Mr. Etzioni closes with a statement that reveals more about him than I think he intended; like many gun control advocates, he doesn’t trust himself, so why would he trust anyone else?
I have a hard enough time with students who bring their cell phones to their classes. If they bring guns, they better check them at the door, or I may be forced to arm myself and try to outdraw them when I see one of them reaching for his holster.
Update: This dovetails nicely with what Oleg Volk, Tam, and Linoge said last week about collective punishment. In essence, anyone who wants to carry on campus (and is not allowed to) is being punished for the actions of those who break the law by carrying on campus and then further break the law by assaulting and murdering others.