A Response to the Bismark Tribune’s Anti Gun Editorial

The Bismark Tribune, a newspaper in North Dakota, recently published an anti gun rights editorial.  While it was not quite as outrageously one sided as some articles I’ve commented on before, I do take exception to much of what was said:

There is debate between gun control advocates and firearm enthusiasts as to just what those words [the Second Amendment to the United States constitution] mean, the original intent and how it translates today. The basic differences of opinion seem to center on the application to state militias as a means of defense compared to an individual’s absolute right to own a firearm.

While it is true that those opposed to gun rights will try and argue that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right to gun ownership, the United States Supreme Court conclusively found that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to gun ownership – independent of service in the militia.  While anti gun individuals are free to have their (legally incorrect) opinions about what the Second Amendment means, our nation’s highest court has spoken, and upheld the Second Amendment’s right to gun ownership, just as the founders of this country intended.  Also, while I don’t wish to give excessive credence to the opinions of ordinary people who are not constitutional scholars, it is worth noting that the majority of American citizens agree that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, just as the Supreme Court found. Given those facts, I don’t think it is proper to present this information in a way that suggests there is still really some ongoing debate, when the Supreme Court, the majority American public, and the historical information all point to the inescapable fact that the Second Amendment protects the individual citizens’ (pre existing) right to gun ownership.  I would also like to note that it is not just “firearms enthusiasts” who support the Second Amendment, but also  people who value self defense and/or our constitution.

[A]llowing students to be permitted to carry concealed weapons isn’t the answer to preventing the mentally ill from inflicting tragedy [such as college campus shootings]. Nor is there evidence that arming students will aid in fewer deaths; it might even add to the carnage.

Here we have unfounded opinion passed off as fact.  There is no evidence suggesting that arming students would make the problem of school shootings worse.  Instead, facts show that armed students have stopped school shooters, both in the United States and in other countries.  The facts also show that school shooters and other mass murderers are successful only where they are able to find unarmed victims, such as “gun free zones.” It is also worth noting that allowing law abiding students to carry a gun for self defense would enable them to protect themselves against rape and other violent attacks, not just school shootings, as current campus security measures are often ineffective at preventing these types of attacks.

Because of school shootings over the years, campus security has improved steadily, even more rapidly since Virginia Tech. . . On most campuses we have highly trained safety officers doing a very good job of protecting our students.

As I write this article, I am sitting in my law school’s library, killing time between classes.  Around me there are dozens of fellow law students who are reading from their case books, typing on their computers, and listening to their iPods.  If, as terrible as it is to even imagine, one of my fellow students were to pull a gun from their bag and go on a shooting spree, I sincerely doubt that campus security officers (who generally have only pepper spray) would be of much help.  Firstly, there is not a security guard in every room, meaning that the shooter would have ample opportunity to kill those in their immediate vicinity.  Secondly, even if the security guards did respond, their pepper spray wouldn’t do much.  The fact is that unless we are going to have an armed guard in every classroom, hallway, dorm, library, elevator, cafeteria, parking lot, and lounge, campus security officers just can’t solve the school shooting problem.

Our university campuses do not need student militia, a citizen posse or renegade self-deputized shoot-’em-up patrol efforts.

Once again we see the typical anti gun assertion that armed citizens are blood-thirsty vigilantes.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Armed citizens carry guns for self defense, not so that they can form a posse and patrol the area.  This Bismark Tribune article utterly fails to understand the profound differences between vigilantism and self defense.

Guns have their place in North Dakota, and this place does not include university residence halls and classroom buildings.

This statement, made by North Dakota State University student Ron Storhaug and endorsed by the Bismark Tribune’s article, confuses the presence of guns with the presence of violence. Violence certainly doesn’t belong on college campuses, or anywhere in society for that matter. However the reality of the situation is that violent minded individuals can and do attack innocent people at any time, including while on a college campus. As I mentioned above, such individuals who are bent on violence won’t think twice about breaking the law and having a gun, and so it makes no sense to have a gun ban which only leaves the law abiding people defenseless.

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My thanks to Anders for pointing out this Bismark Tribune article.