Concealed Carry on Campus: The Moral Choice
Join me for a moment in a thought experiment. Imagine that a killer is approaching his victim, intending to stab her. Before she can defend herself, an accomplice grabs her and restrains her while the killer moves in and murders the victim. Now ask yourself, has the accomplice committed an immoral act?
Most people would say that yes, the accomplice’s act is almost as bad as the act of the killer himself. Why is the accomplice’s act bad? The accomplice’s act is bad because the accomplice has prevented the victim from preventing the killing.
I heard this hypothetical from CU philosophy professor Michael Huemer, who was explaining the natural right to self defense.
The right to self defense has been a topic of intense discussion lately at CU ever since the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that that the University of Colorado cannot ban concealed-weapon permit holders from carrying guns on campus. This decision has not gone over well with some faculty and students who are critical of CU adapting its policies to comply with the ruling.
One professor declared that he would cancel class if he became aware of the presence of an armed student. Another professor has suggested that the contractual arrangement with students forbidding concealed-carry weapons at football games be applied to classrooms by issuing tickets at the door.
At an institution where much of the intellectual conversation revolves around equality and human rights, it is perplexing to see a continued effort to thwart students’ right to self defense.
We live in a society where guns are more easily available than in other countries. This fact is largely a result of our country’s founders having included the right to bear arms in the US Constitution. Furthermore, this right has been interpreted as an individual right that allows citizens to own and carry guns for their own protection. Whether or not this is the correct interpretation, I merely wish to acknowledge the reality of gun ownership in our society.
Some people use guns to commit horrendous acts of violence against innocent people, as demonstrated by the tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and most recently Aurora.
In a society where people have access to guns, and where occasionally disturbed individuals use guns to commit heinous crimes in public places, people who wish to defend themselves from such crimes require a gun to do so.
By creating a so-called “gun free zone” without adopting the measures necessary to truly free the zone of guns (ie. metal detectors and security personnel), a school, theater, or other establishment prevents potential victims from preventing potential killings.
Law abiding individuals in unenforced gun free zones are essentially sitting ducks.
The tragedies that have occurred over the years have changed us. I am sure that I am not the only one who finds himself in a public place, eyeing the exits and looking around for something with which to clobber a gun-toting psycho.
I do not have a concealed carry permit and do not come to school armed. I know some students at CU who do. The knowledge that I am sitting in a classroom with responsible, law-abiding people carrying guns which they have been trained to use is comforting. I feel less vulnerable.
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that university students are as equally entitled to defend themselves as the rest of the people in this state. CU has adjusted its policies accordingly. No one is allowed to brandish guns on campus, and if people see someone with a gun they should call the police. If students and faculty at CU want gun free zones, they should come up with a plan for enforcing them.