March 13, 2012
By James Tarr
As I write this, the news is full of details about the latest tragic shooting, this one of seven people at a campus clinic at the University of Pittsburgh. John Shick entered the Western Psychiatric Institute, a wing of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, with two 9mm semi-auto handguns and opened fire. Shick wounded seven people, killing one of them. He was met by responding officers as he was attempting to flee and was shot and killed.
Stories include quotes from several people there about how they hid for fifteen or twenty minutes, hoping the gunman wouldn't see them because they had no way to defend themselves. I don't know the specific details about the University of Pittsburgh's policies, but to me this is just another reminder of how Gun Free School Zones and other such idiocy doesn't work in the real world.
Murder and Attempted Murder are much more serious crimes than the illegal carrying of a concealed weapon, so any unbalanced person with murder in their heart doesn't give a damn what the law says about carrying a gun. Many of these shooting sprees are committed by people who are legally qualified to own guns, so unless you want to advocate the outright banning and confiscation of all privately-owned firearms in this country (good luck with that), we're always going to have to deal with those people who, for one reason or another, suddenly snap.
I attended Michigan State University for four years. 40,000 students annually attended MSU at the time—that's more than the population of some towns. School rules mandated that all incoming freshmen had to live on campus their first year in the dorms, and weren't allowed to have cars on campus. School policy also prohibited students from keeping any firearms on campus in their dorm rooms. Not just no concealed carry--no guns, period. I'm sure they thought they had good reasons for doing this, everything from preventing accidental shootings to keeping their insurance rates low, but what these policies actually do is effectively create a target-rich environment for any whacko who happens to wander along. Think that's only paranoia? How about you Google "school shooting" and see how many results you get. I'll wait. Virginia Tech and Columbine High are only the two most recognizable names on that very long list.
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That's not to say students didn't have a lot of guns on MSU's campus anyway, especially during hunting season (lot of farmland close by), but the message universities are sending with these policies is, I think, the opposite one than they intend. Their policies, instead of creating a "safe" environment for their children, create giant shooting galleries. "Active shooters", as the police call them, seem drawn to areas filled with defenseless people. Cops call them "active shooters" because all they seem to want to do is shoot people—they're not interested in stealing money, or taking hostages, and they will keep shooting until they're stopped. If none of the law-abiding citizens on the scene is allowed to have a gun, the bad guy will keep shooting until the authorities show up, and like the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
Gun Free Zones kill people.