Reactions to the shooting of Ethan Schmidt, Delta State

On Monday, the 14th of September 2015, a professor of geography and social sciences at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi shot a fellow professor, Ethan Schmidt, to death in Schmidt’s office.  The suspect, Shannon Lamb, is also sought in the death of his domestic partner, Amy Prentiss, several hours earlier.  At the time of this writing, Lamb is still at large, though he has declared his intention not to go to jail, according to the police.

The familiar advocates of gun control are already out with statements pushing their demands in reaction to this incident.  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America calls for “universal background checks“, and Shannon Watts has taken to Twitter to claim that the university allows the carrying of concealed handguns on its campus.  Except this likely would come as a surprise to the school’s board of trustees, whose policy regarding weapons on campus is unambiguous:

The Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning prohibits the possession of pistols, firearms or other weapons in any form by any person other than duly authorized law enforcement officials on its institutions’ premises or at any of its institutions or student functions off campus, regardless of whether such person possesses a valid permit to carry such pistols, firearms, or weapons.

In fact, the policy statement page includes a warning that under Mississippi law, it is a felony to possess a weapon on university property.

Of course, murder is also a felony, though that fact seems not to have troubled the shooter in this case.  And I’m unaware of any state that permits the carrying of firearms with the intent to kill innocent persons.

And so once more, we have an example of the law’s failure to accomplish anything but keeping victims unarmed.  As I’ve said before, carrying a gun is no guarantee.  Even the best of us can be caught off guard.  But if the #WhateverItTakes supporters are serious, they should be willing to consider another option.

In fact, the State of Mississippi already has something in the direction of this alternative, an enhanced carry license.  This option removes the need to renew the license every five years and allows greater flexibility in places where a licensee may carry. Unfortunately, as noted above, college campuses are still legally out of bounds.

But what if that were changed?  I can entertain the premise that educational institutions create special conditions, though the local Cabela’s has classrooms and permits lawful concealed carry in the store.  But for sake of argument, let’s say that for the law to allow carry on a college campus, a license holder must take extra training.  This would have to be within reasonable limits in terms of cost and hours, but the college where I teach lets faculty take a free class each semester, so an arrangement satisfactory to all shouldn’t be difficult to achieve—barring institutional resistance, of course.

The only option I have for now, as long as I remain on the law-abiding side of the law, is to be unarmed and to shelter in place if a message comes over the warning system.  Such “shelters” typically are made with dry-wall paneling in the interior of the building with ordinary glass windows along the exterior wall and doors that anyone in reasonable shape could kick open.

We’ve seen how effective a policy of unarmed victims has been.  We’ve seen the disastrous consequences of relying on signs declaring a gun-free zone.  Rather than trying failed controls once more in the hopes that this time, things will turn out differently, how about we take a new approach?

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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