The University of West Georgia gave me an opportunity a few years ago to become an adjunct professor in their Criminology Department. Teaching criminal law to future police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers and students pursuing other careers has been a blessing.
My class is always taught during the Spring Semester on Tuesday from 5:30pm – 8:00pm. Although it is called “Spring Semester”, the first few weeks are cold.
When class ends, it is also completely dark.
The walk from class back to my car is well lit and I have never had a dangerous encounter. But, at the end of those January and February classes, there have been times I wished I had my .38 revolver inside of my jacket.
As I write this column, it is 6:30pm on June 30th, 2017. Tomorrow, HB 280, better known as “Campus Carry” becomes law in Georgia.
I recently expressed my gratitude for Campus Carry on Facebook because public universities around the state will now become safer. I realize that some people disagree with this new law. I always try my best to “agree to disagree” like a gentleman. I was surprised by some of the responses to my post. To put it lightly, they were not exactly a classy expression of disagreement.
While I respect those who disagree with Campus Carry, I cannot recall an argument against it that was based on logic, history, or verified facts. There are many assertions that Campus Carry is a bad idea. Here are the three I hear repeated the most:
1. Guns on campus would lead to an increase in violent crime.
There are ten states (including Georgia) that have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons. Twenty-three additional states allow each college to make the decision. None of these states have seen a resulting increase in gun violence as a result of legalizing concealed carry. Additionally, studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center have concluded that there is no evidence that licensed concealed carry leads to an increase in either violent crime or gun deaths.
2. Adding guns to the “college lifestyle” of drinking and partying would be a disaster.
First, it is unlawful for a licensed concealed permit holder to carry while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Licensed holders went through the proper steps, underwent a background check, and were licensed by a probate judge. Logic would dictate that these class of gun owners possess the highest level of responsibility and thus would not carry while drinking. Until now, students carrying on campus were committing criminal acts. Those type of students, who have been carrying illegally for decades, are logically more likely to mix drugs and alcohol because of their indifference to the law. Based on my experience as a criminal defense attorney, I can personally attest that illegal carriers exist and that there are more guns on college campuses right now than most people would imagine. Since guns are already on campus, the responsible students who will legally carry pursuant to Campus Carry will not add any danger to the “college lifestyle.” However, these students may encourage current lawbreakers to become law abiding by obtaining a carry license.
3. Gun free zones (GFZ) are safe because no one can possess guns in those areas.
In thirteen years of criminal defense practice, I have not had to read books, debate ideas, or test classroom theories to confirm that human predators, like our fellow mammals in the animal kingdom, prey on the weak and defenseless. Like the cheetah that picks out the weakest, youngest, or sickest wildebeest, a rapist, child abuser, armed robber, or gunman will choose the weakest victim(s). A gunman knows that people in GFZ’s cannot defend themselves. The gunman has no risk of being shot himself when he opens fire in schools, some campuses, and other GFZ’s. While this 2014 study was unnecessary, the conclusion by the Crime Prevention Research Center showed that 92% of mass shootings in public places between 2009 and 2014 were in GFZ’s. I don’t like to bring attention to past tragedies, but the painful truth must be assessed. Were the mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook in GFZ’s or not.
If you are interested in Campus Carry, I invite you to watch CBS – 46 Atlanta on Saturday morning at 9:00am when I will be discussing this new law and why it makes our college students safe.