Spring Editorial Board 2016
On March 22, Auburn’s University senate voted to condemn HB12. Proposed by Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, HB12 would allow people with concealed carry pistol permits to carry on state college and university campuses.
In the wake of the high volume of mass shootings across the U.S., several states have already taken measures to uproot concealed weapon bans on college campuses.
Those states, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, may have good intentions, but we believe they are ill-founded.
We do not support Butler’s attempt to allow guns on campus.
One of the go-to arguments often offered by the anti-gun-control crowd is that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun, and therefore, they argue, guns should be generally easier to get.
This argument ignores the fact that, while good people with guns could certainly mitigate or stop shooting tragedies, having more guns in general leads to far more shootings, both accidental and purposeful.
According to The American Journal of Medicine, there is a positive correlation between the number of firearms in a country and the number of gun-related deaths. So, on balance, this argument isn’t compelling because it defeats its own purpose.
With concealed carry being allowed, identifying the “bad guy” isn’t as simple as seeing one shooter. If many people have guns pulled out after a shooting takes place, would-be good people with their guns run the risk of being gunned down themselves by police or other good-willed, gun-wielding folks, causing the situation to escalate further.
Another argument put forth is that the greater amount of guns on campus would serve as a deterrent toward would-be shooters.
This potential deterrent does not seem to be a significant factor in the decision calculus of a would-be mass shooter. According to Peter Langman, an expert on the psychology of school shooters, many of the shooters who embark on these tragic missions intend to die.
Neither the armed guard at Columbine nor the armed campus police at Virginia Tech prevented those shootings from taking place.
The presence of guns on campus does not necessarily deter mass shooters and, conversely, the absence of guns does not necessarily attract shooters. It’s the abundance of potential victims in a relatively concentrated area that attracts shooters, and colleges typically happen to provide just that.
Our position isn’t derived merely from cynicism; it’s founded on statistical data.
According to a 2013 study conducted by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, a 1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level.
It’s important to note that we don’t claim that gun proliferation is the sole cause of higher rates of homicide. It is, however, a significant factor. More guns almost inevitably lead to more homicides, suicides and accidental shootings, according to a meta-analysis conducted by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.
These patterns are consistent throughout states in America and in foreign nations even after controlling other potentially contributing factors such as poverty and general crime.
If Auburn were to allow concealed weapons to be carried on campus, we fear the tragedies we so often hear of on the news could become closer to a reality here on our lovely campus.