UNIVERSITY administrators, parents, and law enforcement agencies all know that alcohol, drugs, and college students are a combustible combination. It makes no sense, therefore, to add guns to a mix that already often proves too much for young adults to handle.
But that's exactly what Students for Concealed Carry on Campus wants to do. The group has organized a protest at Ohio State University and other college campuses across the country to point out the purported unfairness of students not being able to attend classes packing heat.
At OSU, Miami University, the University of Cincinnati, and elsewhere, students planned to wear empty holsters to class this week to protest the state ban on concealed weapons on campus.
The protesters' rationale is that bad guys target students for crime because they know they're defenseless. "But if they changed the law, then thieves wouldn't know who is armed and they would move on to other targets," Mark Noble, 31, a recent OSU grad and chairman of the Hamilton County Libertarian Party, told the Columbus Dispatch.
"Too many [students] have been murdered, raped, robbed, and beaten on our college campuses!" declares the group's Web site. "Enough is enough!"
Especially since the shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech that left 33 dead in April, advocates of concealed carry have led the charge to expand the right to bear arms into the bastions of higher learning, claiming that if some Tech students had been armed, Seung-Hui Cho's brutal rampage could have been stopped and lives saved.
Anything's possible, but the U.S. Department of Education reports that in 2004, the latest year for which figures were available, 48 students were killed while attending more than 7,000 colleges and universities across the United States. As sad as that is, it's still only 48 out of more than 17 million students. What happened at Virginia Tech, therefore, was an anomaly, and to respond to it by arming the student body would be like, well, responding to 9/11 by attacking Iraq.
Indeed, according to the federal statistics, most crimes against students, with the notable exception of rape, occur off campus. This might suggest that students who fear for their safety should arm themselves when they've left campus, not to enter it.
In addition, if the SCCC got its way, only students 21 and over who qualify for concealed-carry permits could be armed, meaning a few juniors, most seniors, and graduate students. That suggests this drive is more about expanding the Second Amendment than it is about campus safety.
In addition, study after study has shown that even mature young people all too often act first and think later. In college, this all too often leads to risky behavior such as excessive drinking or drug use, followed by other ill-advised activities such as driving, casual sex, fights, more drinking, or more drugs, and resulting in addiction, unwanted pregnancies, academic failure, and, sometimes, death. What responsible human being would willingly add handguns to this mix?
Universities, government, and parents have fought hard in recent years to make college campuses safer, healthier places for young people to grow intellectually and emotionally. We should not reverse that trend by launching a campus arms race.