Evaluating Arguments in New York Times opposing permitted concealed handguns at universities

6 Mar , 2014  

An op-ed in the New York Times last Friday by Greg Hampikian (February 27), a biology professor at Boise State University, raised the standard fears about letting permitted concealed handguns on college campuses.

I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement. . . .

Ignore, for example, the lame argument that some drunken frat boys will fire their weapons in violation of best practices. This view is based on stereotypical depictions of drunken frat boys, a group whose dignity no one seems willing to defend.

The problem, of course, is not that drunken frat boys will be armed; it is that they are drunken frat boys. Arming them is clearly not the issue. They would cause damage with or without guns. I would point out that urinating against a building or firing a few rounds into a sorority house are both violations of the same honor code. . . .

CPRC sent in the following letter to the Times.

Dear Letters Editor:

Greg Hampikian’s article criticizing Idaho’s push to adopt a concealed carry was all emotion and no facts (“When May I Shoot a Student?” 2/27). His speculation about wild shootouts by concealed carry permit holders totally ignores actual experience.

There is already evidence from the many states that allowed concealed carry on campuses. Other states, such as Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin, mandate that permit holders can carry on university property. Twenty-two other states leave the decision up to the individual universities.

Yet, no “disgruntled” or “drunken” students have caused the problems Hampikian worries about in any of these states.

The about 11.5 million current concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In fact, they lose their permits for firearm violations at hundredths or thousandths of one percentage point. There is no evidence that they behave differently on school property.


John R. Lott, Jr.
Crime Prevention Research Center

The irony here is that the arguments being provided Hampikian really don’t have anything to do with 21 year olds carrying permitted concealed handguns. Undoubtedly, the opposition would be the same to professors or staff being able to carry handguns.


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