Early this January, a 22-year-old former Arizona community college student named Jared Lee Loughner walked into the parking lot of a grocery store near Tucson, took out a gun and shot nineteen people—six of them fatally.
Now the Arizona State Senate is considering a law that would make it easier to carry a concealed weapon onto the state’s college campuses—including Loughner’s own alma mater, Pima Community College. The proposed bill, SB 1467, prohibits school governing boards from banning anyone from bringing a gun on campus if they have a state-issued permit for a concealed weapon.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill last week, and it will soon be voted on in the full Senate. Sen. Rick Murphy (R-Glendale) told a reporter earlier this week that laws barring guns from college campuses engender "a false sense of security that because guns aren't allowed that there aren't any, and the bad guys don't have them.''
Right, because when we allow people to carry guns, justice always triumphs. Remember Loughner’s rampage? At least one man in the parking lot that day had a gun—and in the chaos of the moment nearly used it to shoot the wrong person. And since some 40 percent of Arizona adults own a gun, he almost certainly wasn’t the only one packing heat in that Safeway parking lot. But six people are still dead. No citizen justice came to the rescue that day.
In debating this bill then, maybe the state Senate should heed University of Arizona Police Chief Anthony Daykin’s warning: Multiple guns on the scene of violent crimes will actually make it harder for his police to apprehend dangerous suspects.
"They'll have to distinguish between who is the original person who perhaps had a gun for a bad purpose and who are all the other people,'' he says.
In fact, guns are rarely used in self defense at the scene of a crime. Although researchers dispute the exact figure, as few as 0.2 percent of all gun use during a crime is self-defensive—and many of those responsive shots are fired by police officers. Guns rarely make a crime scene safer, and they very frequently make it far more dangerous.
Unfortunately for Daykin, gun control, along with equally ideological partners in crime like abortion and gay marriage, is an issue so senselessly partisan that it’s hard to imagine legislators coming around to something as simple as logic. After all, it’s easier to rally around the same dull arguments, regardless of the particulars, than to look a tragedy straight in the eye and truly face it.
Update: Apparently Arizona isn't the only state that thinks it's a great idea to be able to carry guns onto college campuses. A similar campus-carry bill is currently snaking its way through the Texas House of Representatives—and it already has 81 co-authors, more than half the number of representatives. If Arizona and Texas pass these new bills that allow people to carry guns on campuses, they'll join the exactly one state—Utah—already has such a law in place, which you might know by another superlative: the reddest state in the country.