The scenario that Danny Dennis presented in his Nov. 10 column “Concealed carry needed to increase campus safety,” is persuasive. Of course, it’s persuasive because it is convenient, neatly avoiding many of the factors that make concealed carry for students problematic. Davis’ scenario presents a clearly identifiable “raging lunatic” armed with an non-concealable weapon, staging his attack in a space with clear lines of sight. In Davis’ scenario it is immediately clear to everyone who is a “good” guy and who is not.
Imagine yourself in a scenario that’s not quite so clear. You are in the library, in the hallway heading to IT services. In the main space behind you, pistol shots ring out. Students scream and people run past you to get away. Here is your chance to live out that hero fantasy you’ve been nursing. You draw your handgun, which you have registered and trained with. Several nearby students see your weapon and scream, scrambling away from you.
An agitated young man holding a pistol comes around the corner. He sees that you are also armed and begins to swing his gun toward you. What do you do? Is this the “bad” guy or is this another “good” guy? If he is a “good” guy, could he tell you are too? Either of you could conceivably be an accomplice of the original shooter. You have to weigh all the options in the moment his gun swings around, and so does he. The more students in this situation are armed, the more times these snap judgements must be made, and the higher the chance that someone will judge wrongly, downing another “good” guy by mistake.
By Davis’ article, he is clearly skeptical about police response times, but let’s give the officers the benefit of the doubt for a moment. What if a patrol car is nearby, and officers respond quickly? They are presented with a situation, which they must separate an unknown number of armed “good” guys from an unknown number of armed “bad” guys, all spotted over their own gunsights.
Neat, clear scenarios like the one Davis described might be rhetorically effective, but this is not a reliably neat and clear world. In an adult discussion of this serious issue, we should responsibly discuss all the complications of introducing more armed agents into a variety of emergency situations, rather than spinning simplistic hero narratives.
How do you feel about the bundled tickets for basketball and football?