The New York Times has provided a view into the thoughts of the faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder, and, by extension, the world view of probably most professors nationwide, that sees students carrying guns as a threat. Not reassuring.
A Colorado State Supreme Court ruling has forced the university to allow students with concealed weapon permits to carry their guns on campus. A concealed weapon permit is issued only after a government determination that there is no record of criminal activity or mental disturbances regarding the applicant. The Times notes that the university's new gun policy has produced anxiety and the feeling among a percentage of the faculty that the presence of armed students in their classrooms will create a climate of fear and intimidation and inhibit the ability to speak and offer controversial opinions in a free and open manner. The chairman of the Faculty Assembly said that he would cancel class if he discovered one of his students was carrying a gun. Faculty members are discussing how to overturn the policy through legislative channels and the university administration has created a requirement that students who want to bring their firearms on campus must live in separate student apartments and cottages.
Since 1999, starting with Columbine, there have been 11 school shootings resulting in 70 dead and 42 wounded, including an incident at the University of Alabama where a professor killed three colleagues and wounded three others. Four of the shooters committed suicide, two at Columbine, and two others in separate shootings. The other seven shooters were stopped when somebody showed up with a gun.
The interesting part is that there is no debate at UCB about whether or not armed individuals would stop a mass murderer. Common sense and practical experience shows that armed intervention is about the only way to stop the carnage. The most rational argument against an armed civilian stopping a massacre is that a shoot out would result and there would be more injuries and deaths among the bystanders, but there is no example of a multiple victim public shooting in which a permit holder confronting a shooter accidentally shot a bystander. The issue revolves around the delicate sensitivities of the staff and their hysteria at the possibility of being in close proximity of a firearm and their firm belief that their students might be insane and could begin shooting if provoked. As one professor notes, "The classroom is a place where judgment is levied upon individuals, not unlike a court of law. You interject a firearm and there's potential for a confrontation." However, of the 70 dead the only staff that have been killed in the last 13 years were shot by a professor.
There has always been a problem with lunatics going berserk. There has never been a better solution to the problem than an armed response. That this escapes the approval of the highly paid and influential faculty in our universities and instead produces denial and fear of their students is something else for the rest of us to worry about.