An Open Letter to Charlie Collins (and Other Legislators) re: Campus Carry

Dear Representative Collins:

According to reporting by The Trace, you are confident that the Arkansas state legislature will pass campus carry this year.  I am writing to express my hope that you make good on this.

We have discussed this subject before at a debate held at Temple Shalom in Fayetteville in April of 2011.  Since then, the legislature passed a law in 2013 that allows concealed carry by faculty and staff who have the appropriate license, but gave discretion to the boards of governors of the state’s colleges and universities to choose to continue banning those employees from being legally armed.  And to date, every institution of higher education has chosen to deny the right to carry.

Given incidents like the Umpqua Community College shooting in 2015 in which ten people were killed and seven others injured, it is clear that the protection of law-enforcement officers takes too long to swing into motion to bring an attack to an end before many die.  Unless we are willing to make classrooms into bunkers and post armed guards throughout the buildings—thus turning campuses effectively into prisons—we are left with the choices of making potential victims defenseless or allowing them the opportunity to defend themselves.

The State of Arkansas requires anyone who wants a carry license to get training—on safe gun handling and the laws of self-defense—demonstrate the ability to use a handgun safely, and submit fingerprints.  Applicants have their backgrounds reviewed in detail.  The experience of Texas shows that carry license holders commit crimes at rates much lower than the general population, and the experience of other states is similar.  Given all this evidence and the motivation of carry license holders to maintain their gun rights, people who carry legally pose the least threat to the campus.

Texas also offers an example in the classes offered at Stephen F. Austin State University to explain the rules and procedures related to effective means of surviving an attack.  Making these available on our campuses would provide assurance to people who are concerned about the idea of guns on campus..

The alternative is to leave campuses vulnerable to crazed attackers looking to get their names in the news.  We are told by advocates of gun control that the solution is universal background checks and restrictions on the types of firearms and magazines that would be legal to own, but given the hundreds of millions of guns in private hands in this country, such answers are impractical, even if they conformed to the concept of rights.  And given the results of the 2016 election, new controls are unlikely.  My classroom is protected by drywall and glass.  I can lock the door, but an enterprising attacker could defeat that with a solid kick.  We know what disarming good people has accomplished.  It is time to respect the rights of good people to carry legally on campuses just as they are allowed to do in stores, city parks, and other places that are open to all the public.

Thank you for your time.  I have the pleasure to remain,

Respectfully yours,

Greg Camp

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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