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Sunday, December 6, 2015

college campuses and the "bad guys", insuring armed employees, Jefferson and Madison on bearing arms

"A frequent refrain among conservatives is that violent rampages happen in places like college campuses and movie theaters precisely because guns are banned there. The thinking goes that someone setting out to commit a massacre can select a target where he is reasonably assured not to encounter an armed citizen. (There is no evidence of a shooter ever selecting a target precisely because it is a gun-free zone.) In the Umpqua case - the Oregon massacre "way back" in October...hard to keep the massacres straight, they are so frequent - though, at least one student (and likely others) was carrying a concealed weapon during the massacre. Needless to say, this did not prevent the tragedy. An armed Umpqua student, John Parker Jr, explained just how difficult, if not impossible, it would have been for an armed bystander to stop the attack. “The Swat team wouldn’t know who we were, and if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think we were bad guys,” he told MSNBC.

Another reason college administrators tend to support banning firearms on campus is insurance. A rash of state bills to allow guns in classrooms followed the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, but according to Jennifer Lynch, spokesperson at the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, most were ultimately voted down because insurance companies refused to cover schools with more guns or charged sky-high rates.“Insurance companies aren’t emotional or political; they look only at the risk,” she said. “They know the risk of having armed people on campus increases the risk of gun injuries and gun deaths.” School districts in Oregon, for example, have to pay an additional $2,500 premium annually per armed staff member.

Banning guns on college campuses is a controversial issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s a new one. In 1824, a University of Virginia board of visitors meeting decided that “no student shall, within the precincts of the University [...] keep or use weapons or arms of any kind”. Among those at the meeting were founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison, widely considered the father of the US constitution, including the second amendment."