As I said yesterday, make sure you don’t learn the lessons that people will try to teach you in the next few weeks:
Police can’t be everywhere, and as incidents from Columbine to Virginia Tech demonstrate, by the time they show up at a mass shooting, it’s usually too late. On the other hand, one group of people is, by definition, always on the scene: the victims. Only if they’re armed, they may wind up not being victims at all.
“Gun-free zones” are premised on a fantasy: That murderers will follow rules, and that people like my student, or Bradford Wiles, are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers like Cho Seung-hui. That’s an insult. Sometimes, it’s a deadly one.
Again, I don’t know what fantasy world people live in that “more guns on campus” is the solution to the tragedy the other day.
It may very well be that an armed person may have pulled a gun and downed the gunman at VT. Just as plausible, he could have pulled the gun and shot another innocent. Or would have been armed when police showed up and accidentally shot. Or any number of things.
Regardless, suppose the best case scenario happened- an armed individual shot the killer before he finished his spree, and only half the people killed would have died. I am betting the number of people involved in accidental, spur of the moment rage shootings, drunking shootings, and what not would top those lives saved in simply a matter of weeks were campuses populated with heavily armed young men and women.
Those who want armed campuses will point to statistics that state that shall-carry states have seen no rise in violence as gun possession increased. What they are not looking at is that those statistics show no sign of increase in violent gun crime across the population as a whole. Colleges are a very unique cross-section of the population, composed of 18-22 year olds, the most violent members of society. Pointing to statistics from the entire population and extrapolating to behavior of a limited cross-section of society would and should be problematic. Social science researchers are aware of this and that is why research designs which use data only from student populations are always somewhat dangerous to make broader assessments about the larger population.
As far as I am concerned, only if you want more gun violence would you support heavily armed students on every campus. I may be wrong, but I don’t think I am- regardless, I refuse to let the actions of a crazed mass murderer dictate policy decisions that would have broad and potentially disastrous implications for society. And that is what this is really about- knee-jerk reactions to the actions of a crazy person.