Point of View: Deceptive state campus carry bill opposes university’s mission

By Brent Johns

One single vote could have unleashed a firestorm in Waco. A student government bill would have supported allowing certain students to carry a concealed handgun on Baylor property. I applaud Baylor student government for standing, however narrowly, in opposition to the extreme measure.

By no means am I against an individual’s right to be secure. As court case after court case has confirmed, owning a handgun for personal protection is a constitutional right, just as it is a constitutional right of property owners to forbid handguns from private property. But when perceived insecurity begets irrational panic and infects rational discourse in the public sphere, cooler heads must prevail.

Senate Resolution 58-09 is a product of irrational fear and stands in opposition to Baylor’s heart, our Christian values of peace, understanding, knowledge and love. Fear will make us silent. I must speak.

As much as the speakers at the Senate meeting tried to argue (albeit optimistically) that each gun owner had “enough” experience to carry a hidden handgun on our campus, I believe that it is important to note that Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, and Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech killer, were 100 percent legal handgun owners.

They used those same weapons to tragically end the lives of many people. Likewise, these activists cannot guarantee the motives, good judgment and emotional stability of every single concealed handgun owner who may want to visit Baylor. Why encourage people to bring guns here?

If students are concerned about campus security, they should inspire dialogue with the Baylor police. Allowing any concealed handgun owner to carry a gun on campus will only create a Pandora’s Box of problems for the university and student security.

This legislation capitalizes on both the fear many Baylor students have of living in Waco, as well as national tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shooting. These activists follow a Hollywood narrative that is not rooted in reality. If the advocates of this bill are worried about a violent gunman taking aim at defenseless students (which is a rather rare occurrence), then why aren’t they calling for an increase in the number and presence of professional Baylor security officers or TSA-like security screenings?

Baylor is a civil forum, not a frontier settlement we must protect from Waco’s perceived hordes of lawless bandits, who need to be rounded up by a student posse comitatus.

If a legally-licensed concealed handgun owner feels insecure outside of Baylor’s grounds, then he or she is entitled to carry and use that weapon according to law. But, by agreeing to study at Baylor University, we all agree to follow its procedures and policies. That means we must disarm ourselves of violence and work for a peaceful, creative campus. The tragic shooting on Virginia Tech’s campus and the violence in Tucson should not lead us to seek solace in our guns.

They should lead us to reform our mental health institutions and to recognize that dialogue promoting paranoia and vigilante justice coupled with increased gun ownership will, without a doubt, cause even more bloodshed than it already has.

The language of the bill is deceptive. Specifically, the author correlates Colorado State University’s newly implemented conceal and carry policy with stagnant or lower crime rates.

He assumes that, in this short time, correlation and causation are one in the same. But, how can we know so early that this new policy caused such a complex effect, as lower crime, on a few acres of land?

The reader is only allowed to see a small pixel of that area’s sociological picture: guns on campus. Other marginalizing variables which do cause crime, such as lack of income, lack of education and poverty are completely disregarded.

Perhaps student government should engage the local community in a set of outreach programs rather than trying to form a student militia.

We all know what happens when mentally unstable people, like Jared Loughner and Cho Seung-Hui, have firearms. They are not rational enough to understand the deterrent of possibly losing their own lives. This is, if they are even cognizant enough to value their own lives or the legal punishment afterward.

The proposal states that crime decreased at such universities without actually providing information about what types of crime actually occurred. Were students caught with an illegal substance such as marijuana or alcohol?

Did someone suffer a robbery or a violent encounter with an assailant? Did a graffiti gang graduate with Studio Art degrees? It does not say. Owning a gun on campus would only affect one of the previously listed “crimes.” If the aim of this policy is to reduce violent crime, why is this author counting every type of crimes as justification for militarizing our campus? This evidence is cherry-picked at best, and a red herring to the context of this bill.

There are responsible, law-abiding gun owners. And there are those who are irresponsible gun owners.

As any city does, Waco has a mixture of both. But to say that the Baylor’s campus is so insecure that we need students to arm themselves in order to preserve order and safety is a gross exaggeration.

We don’t need to deputize every concealed gun owner who walks onto the Baylor campus. In crisis and in peace, we should place our trust in our well-trained first responders who patrol our campus, but first and foremost, a loving, peaceful God and the sword of Christ’s word.

Brent Johns is a sophomore international studies major from Houston and a contributor to the Lariat.