mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“We’re In The Grip Of Madness”: Obsession With Guns Now Infects College Campuses

The Texas Legislature has just passed its version of campus-carry — a bill that allows students, teachers, janitors, administrators, and anyone else with a firearms permit to carry concealed handguns on college campuses throughout the state. That means students sitting in a library or classroom or strolling through a classic tree-lined quadrangle may be armed.

College campuses don’t have enough problems with student misbehavior? Administrators aren’t frazzled enough coping with rapes, binge drinking, and routine infractions such as cheating? The Legislature had to add concealed weapons to the mix?The illogic is hard to overstate. This is what one proponent of the measure, GOP state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, had to say: “An armed society is a safe society, so any time you have gun control, there is far more opportunity to become victims.”

Ah, where to begin?It should be clear from the recent spate of police shootings that even those who are highly trained make mistakes with their weapons. They fire too quickly, killing the unarmed. They shoot bystanders. They miss altogether. What makes the gun lobby think that civilians would handle their firearms with more precision and control?

One Texan who is intimately familiar with firearms tried to persuade the Legislature not to pass campus-carry. Adm. William McRaven, who is now the chancellor of the University of Texas System, said, “I’m a guy that loves my guns. I have all sorts of guns. I just don’t think bringing guns on campus is going to make us any safer.”

The man is a former Navy Seal. He commanded the U.S. Special Operations forces who killed Osama bin Laden. But the GOP-dominated Legislature ignored him.

Clearly, we’re in the grip of a kind of madness, an irrational, fevered obsession with firearms. Sometime in the not-too-distant (I hope) future, historians and anthropologists will study our society’s gun sickness to try to figure out how we became so warped by firearms ownership. They’ll ponder this cultural weirdness just as we look back at the Salem witch trials and the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness.

To be sure, the vast majority of Americans are not persuaded that more guns are tantamount to more safety. They know better. Polls show that we support additional gun safety laws, including a ban on large-capacity magazines and broadening background checks to make it more difficult for criminals and the deranged to get guns.

But we don’t care enough. We haven’t gone about the business of isolating this madness, quarantining the fevered, protecting ourselves from the spread. We’ve allowed this infection to embed itself in the bloodstream of civil society.

Currently, according to the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states prohibit concealed weapons on college campuses. Twenty-three others allow college presidents or regents to make the decision. But it seems inevitable that campus-carry laws will spread.

The gun lobby has more energy, more focus, more intensity. Its minions take their odd enthusiasm to state legislatures, to city councils, and to court, where they seek to overturn even modest gun safety laws. They target politicians who dare suggest that not every private citizen needs to own a shoulder-fired rocket launcher.

When Gov. Greg Abbott signs the bill, as expected, Texas will become the ninth state to allow campus-carry, and proponents will continue to push in gun-crazed states with Republican-dominated legislatures. Look for some to emulate Utah, which has the broadest (and nuttiest) law, outdoing Texas. Its statute specifically bans any college campus from prohibiting concealed weapons. In Texas, at least, private colleges may opt out.

There is a very real danger that some student will kill another on campus. Or kill a teacher with whom he or she has a disagreement. Or go on a rage-fueled spree and kill several people.

Texas, especially, ought to know better. It was the scene of one of the nation’s earliest spree shootings, in 1966, when former Marine Charles Whitman fired from the clock tower on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin.

Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature has trampled the memory of the dead.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize Commentary in 2007, The National Memo, June 6, 2015

June 6, 2015 Posted by | College Campuses, Concealed Weapons, Texas Legislature | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Guns On Campus”: Lawmakers Cooking Up Recipe For A Bloodbath

The very first bill being rammed through the Florida House of Representatives this year would allow guns to be carried on college campuses.

This screwball idea comes from Rep. Greg Steube, a young Republican from Sarasota. Remember his name in case he’s ever daft enough to run for statewide office.

In the macho comic-book world where Steube’s imagination dwells, armed college kids will stand ready to whip their pistols out of their book bags and shoot down crazed campus intruders with flawless aim.

This delusion has been nurtured by the National Rifle Association, which owns so many stooges in the Legislature that a dozen others would have been thrilled to introduce the campus gun bill, if Steube had balked.

Florida is currently one of 20 states that prohibit concealed weapons on university property, the wisdom being that firearms don’t belong in college classrooms, football stadiums or booze-soaked frat houses.

Most of the remaining states allow universities and colleges to decide their own firearms policies, and — no surprise — the vast majority of institutions don’t allow anyone but police officers to carry guns on campus.

Seven states do, thanks to the NRA. Florida is next on its list.

If Steube’s bill passes, it would open the way for firearms to be carried at private colleges as well as public universities, although each private school would be able to implement its own weapons ban.

Steube said he was working on his guns-at-college bill before the Nov. 20 shooting at Florida State University, where a mentally disturbed alumnus named Myron May shot and wounded two students and an employee at the school library.

Police arrived within minutes and killed May. Steube has speculated that an armed undergrad might have been able to drop him even quicker.

Or missed the shot completely and hit a bystander by mistake, which sometimes happens even when experienced police officers are pulling the triggers.

“School safety has always been the paramount issue I’ve dealt with,” said Steube, dead serious.

He’s eager to point out that only students with concealed-weapons permits would be allowed to pack heat. “These are 21-year-old adults who have gone through background checks, who have gone through training, who do not have a criminal record.”

Well, that certainly should reassure all worried parents, because 21 is the age of instant responsibility and maturity. Binge drinking, all-night partying, fighting — all that magically ends on a person’s 21st birthday, right?

And just because they lose their car keys now and then doesn’t mean they’d ever misplace a loaded Glock, or leave it out where their roommate could take it. You might wonder if Steube has ever set foot on a college campus. In fact, he has.

He graduated from the University of Florida, and stayed to get a law degree. During all that time in Gainesville he must have encountered at least a few fellow students who were unstable, angry, depressed, or battling drug and alcohol abuse.

In other words, troubled young men and women who shouldn’t be sitting in a classroom (or anywhere else) with a loaded weapon.

This would be a nightmare scenario for families who’ve sent their kids off to college believing they’ll be safe, at least while they’ve got a book in their hands. It’s also a nightmare scenario for teachers and professors, who’d be left to assume that every student in every class is armed. Would you give any grade except an A+ to a sophomore with a semiautomatic?

Most student and faculty groups are appalled by Steube’s campus gun bill, for good reason. It’s a recipe for another bloodbath.

A House subcommittee endorsed the measure last week, each Republican on the panel voting yea under the hawkish eye of the NRA. Luckily, there are more sane and cautious voices in the Florida Senate, where a similar piece of nutball legislation was snuffed four years ago.

At that time, John Thrasher, an influential Republican senator, opposed the push to put guns on college grounds. He had a friend whose daughter had been tragically killed in an accidental shooting at FSU.

Although Thrasher left the Senate last fall, he still has powerful friends in that chamber who pay attention to his opinion.

And they should, because Thrasher is now president of FSU. He started on the job 11 days before Myron May went to the library and started shooting.

The rampage didn’t change Thrasher’s mind about the danger of arming students. That’s because he lives in the real world, not the Bruce Willis fantasy inhabited by Steube and his reckless cohorts in the House.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, January 29, 2015

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Concealed Weapons, Florida, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Dangers To Everyone”: A Gun-Carrying GOP Congressman Is Outraged A Man With A Concealed Gun Got Near Obama

Stipulating that none of the Secret Service lapses, revealed in the press over the past week, should’ve happened in the first place, the only one that strikes me as truly inexplicable is the revelation that USSS allowed an armed felon into an elevator with President Obama at the Centers for Disease Control, and that they didn’t know he was armed.

The two other big stories aren’t as terrifying, at least to me. Inexcusable, maybe, but explicable. In the case of the fence jumper, I get why people on a security detail might let their guard down when the people they’re charged with protecting are off site. And the inconvenient truth is that the Secret Service can’t stop every determined person with a sniper rifle from taking shots at the White House from a number of different locations in the city. Maybe they bungled the response, but the rifle shots themselves were probably not preventable.

The armed felon in the elevator represents a different level of failure. There appears to be widespread recognition of this fact in both the media and in Congress. That’s good, and important, but it’d be nicer still if elected gun enthusiasts thought through the logical implications of their completely warranted outrage.

Consider the following exchange from a Tuesday oversight hearing on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who heads a House subcommittee that oversees the Secret Service, first heard of the breakdown from a whistleblower. The Washington Post confirmed details of the event with other people familiar with the agency’s review.

“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family. “

Chaffetz added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”

This is all true, but it could use a little further unpacking. Chaffetz isn’t a gun grabber. He’s spoken openly about the fact that he carries a concealed weapon when he’s in his Utah district. He cosponsors legislation that would erode state concealed carry restrictions by requiring those states to honor concealed carry permits from other states, including states with weaker permitting processes. (This would presumably apply to Washington, D.C., now, too.) And yet Chaffetz also joins the overwhelming consensus that Obama shouldn’t have been on an elevator with a person carrying a concealed weapon because he fully grasps that people carrying concealed weapons can be incredibly dangerous.

Chaffetz is appalled that USSS allowed a person to carry a concealed handgun around the president without conducting a background check, but supports legislation to make it significantly easier for people—many of whom come into lawful possession of firearms without undergoing background checks—to carry concealed weapons around you and me.

This isn’t to give USSS a pass. They should’ve been aware of every armed person on the premises in advance of the visit, and followed protocol to keep them or their guns away from the president. But the man on the elevator was a security contractor at CDC. His employer issued him that gun. His felony convictions only underscore the dangers—to everyone, not just the president—of combining easy access to firearms with lax carry laws. But that’s more or less the beau ideal for the gun lobby, gun enthusiasts, many Democrats, and the entire Republican party.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, October 1, 2014

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Background Checks, Concealed Weapons, Secret Service | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: