Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fantastic article by Dave Kopel on NRO

Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel posted an outstanding article on National Review Online yesterday dealing with school shootings, the changes that have already taken place since Columbine, and the resistance that common-sense reforms are encountering from some folks.

A key point:
One reason why adult sociopaths so often choose to attack schools — schools to which they have no particular connection — is that schools are easy targets. It is not surprising that police stations, hunting-club meetings, stateside army bases, NRA offices, and similar locations known to contain armed adults are rarely attacked.

Because of the spread of concealed-handgun licensing laws, now in 40 out of 50 states, whenever you walk into a place with a large crowd of people — a restaurant, a theater, a shopping mall — you can safely assume that several people in the crowd will have a license to carry a concealed handgun, and some of them are currently carrying.

Schools are one of the few places in the United States where the government has guaranteed that there will be no licensed, trained adults with a concealed firearm that could be used to resist a would-be mass murderer.

Since this fact is apparently obvious to random psychopaths, it would be very dangerous to assume that the fact is not obvious to terrorists also. Beslan, Russia, shows that terrorists with al Qaeda connections consider schools to be good targets. There is also the danger of self-starting jihadis, such as the man who attacked the Jewish community center in Seattle. Every Jewish school and community center should very seriously consider having at least one full-time security guard.

Would you like some empirical evidence with that?
Like many states, Utah enacted a concealed-handgun licensing law in 1995. Unlike most states, Utah did not make schools an exclusion zone for lawful carrying. Not only a teacher on duty, but also a parent coming to pick up a child from school, can lawfully carry a concealed handgun in a Utah school building — after, of course, passing a background check and safety training. (See Utah Code sect. 76-10-505.5. In 2003, the legislature expanded the law, by allowing principals to authorize firearms possession by individuals who did not have a concealed-handgun carry permit.)

After eleven years of experience in Utah, we now have exactly zero reported problems of concealed handgun licensees misusing guns at school, or students stealing guns from teachers, or teachers using their licensed firearms to shoot or threaten students. During this same period, we also have had exactly zero mass murders in Utah schools.

Someday the general public will wake up and realize that the upstanding law-abiding citizens who take the time, effort, and expense to legally arm themselves for self-defense are the ones who are willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect their fellow Man - even perfect strangers - and aren't the ones who they should be worrying about going all Wild West on their neighbors, despite the same tired arguments against the Castle Doctrine and shall-issue concealed-carry laws.