Thursday, January 17, 2008

NC Campus Safety Task Force Report

[ED: Another submission to the tipline. A tip o' the hat to Don. ]

A story in the Greensboro News & Fishwrap (Hey! Don’t blame me! I think it was Jerry Bledsoe that coined this.) got me going the other day. Seems the Campus Safety Task Force has released its report on what NC needs to do to prevent a Virginia Tech incident at one of the UNC campuses. Now there’s nothing wrong with that on the face of it. But having read the report I’ve got a few quibbles with it.

(The full report is
The Task Force’s recommendations are broken up into four parts: Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery. And most of the recommendations I don’t have a problem with. They are good, solid, common sense recommendations so I’m going to deal with the ones that I think need to be looked at more closely:

Recommendation 3:

North Carolina should prohibit those who have been involuntarily committed from purchasing guns by reporting this information to the National Instant
I have to make an observation. The report finding states that "Sheriffs cannot determine whether a gun permit applicant has been involuntarily committed." Although NC is one of 22 states that report mental health related information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, "as a general rule, such reports are confidential". Setting aside my feelings about having to get a permit to buy a handgun, let’s say this recommendation goes into effect. Now any NC citizen (since that’s the only people who would be applying to a NC County Sheriff for a purchase permit) who has been involuntarily committed should not have a purchase permit issued to them. Wonderful. How about the out of state student who obtains a firearm in his home state and brings it with him to campus? Does this recommendation address that in any way. Doesn’t look like it to me.
Recommendation 6:

Campuses should practice and regularly update their emergency plans
Why just plan for violent acts? Let’s not forget tornadoes, hurricanes, fires etc.
Recommendation 8:

Campuses should adopt multiple, redundant notification systems and rigorously evaluate such systems
And while they are notifying the rank and file student to stay down, the deputized members of the campus community should be notified that their services are needed. Deputized members? Keep reading.

So what’s missing from the report? As I said above, what about the out of state student who brings a gun from his home state. For that matter, how about an instate student who brings a gun belonging to someone else from home. And the criminal who has stolen or bought a gun off the black market. How do we address these very real possibilities?

How about deputizing members of the campus community who hold Concealed Carry permits and letting them bring their weapons to campus? Think that would make a difference? Remember that a similar incident on the campus of the Appalachian School of Law was stopped by two students who brought their weapons to campus in spite of the laws against doing so. The recent series of shootings in Denver, CO was stopped by a church member acting as an armed security guard.

Folks, lets admit reality: it’s a lot easier to stop a crazy person armed with a gun if you’ve got a gun yourself. So why are we so intent on denying this basic, common sense means of protection to our college students? Remember, I said let those who hold CCW permits bring their weapons to campus. If you’ve gone through the training and back ground check to get a CCW, you’re probably very low risk to go postal.

A friend of mine offered some comments after he read this that I thought ought to be included:
In all the studies I have seen, and even the proposed new laws in VA, they all have one common fallacy: that the "bad guy(s)" are going to play by the rules. I have yet to hear or read about someone who has said: "Boy, I sure would like to rob a bank, but I’d have to break the law and get a gun illegally." If someone is willing to break a law that carries the death penalty, they are not going to sweat stealing or otherwise illegally obtaining a firearm.

All it does is muddy the waters for the law-abiding folks that do care about keeping themselves and others safe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for keeping the guns out of the hands of people with "questionable mind sets". (Boy, that opens up a lot of grey area!) But do not for one minute believe it will even slow down someone that plans to do bodily harm.

So where do we go from here? It might do some good to let Attorney General Roy Cooper know how you feel about this. He is running for the Democratic nomination for North Carolina governor, after all.

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