The most honest among us: CHL holders can be trusted on campus

The following commentary was written in response to a New York Times article entitled "Guns on Campus: Could They Prevent a Repeat?" by David Codrea. Republished with permission.

Interesting take, Mr. Codrea.

I have worked on college and university campuses most of my adult life - first as a student, now as a professor. I have grown quite accustomed to the idea of citizen concealed carry. I know that such policies (now the norm in 48 states) do not increase crime; in contrast, data suggests these allowances deter all but the most brazen (or stupid) criminals. Most importantly, I also realize that criminals can and will carry weapons anywhere they wish, despite the law.

Concealed carry is analogous to driving down the highway. I know that at any moment, any of the thousands of drivers could swerve and kill me head-on. Each one has the potential to kill me, every day. But day after year after decade, they do not. Why not? They are decent people, and well-intentioned, just like you and me. Millions make the "right" choices every day, all their lives. Carrying a firearm is no different.

People carry firearms every day, year after year. No problems. In other words, I trust the honest among us…and those getting carry liceses are demonstrably the most honest among us.

Given the prevalence and success of carry laws in 48 states, we must ask this question: What is so special about University campuses? Why the resistance there given acceptance elsewhere?

This is my answer - We still view campuses as "sacred" or "revered" places of higher learning. We view them (I also view them) as bastions of free thought, diversity, testing ideas, healthy debate, and mutual respect. In our psyche, then, campuses are safe, warm, free, and comfortable. They are just SUPPOSED to be that way. Murder and mayhem is not SUPPOSED to happen on college campuses. So why resist lawful carry on campuses? Because we hold them sacred.

In reality, they are not sacred. In the mind of a criminal, or a deranged, depressed lunatic, they are simply places where people gather - lots of them. And they are trusting, young, and defenseless. Campuses are target-rich environments for the most deranged among us. Remember, not all hold sacred what we do.

There is nothing - at all - different about carrying a lawfully possessed, concealed firearm on campus than there is carrying it at Starbuck's, at the supermarket, and the video store, or just walking down the sidewalk.

The explanation for the opposition to campus carry is this - we cling to the fantasy that campuses are sacred places. In spirit, this is good. In reality, this is a dangerous, because fantasy cannot be used to justify policy.

It is time to eliminate gun free victim zones.

Carl in Chicago

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