Op-ed fails to understand realities around guns and schools

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

Guns are among the most restricted consumer good you can care to name. You don’t have to undergo a background check to buy a blender nor does anyone bat an eye about a microwave on a college campus.

Yet firearms are a different matter entirely. Part of that is understandable. After all, guns aren’t microwaves, nor should any think I’m implying otherwise.

After all, the right to keep and bear microwaves is nowhere in the Constitution.

Guns are different. We have to fight in order to have the right to carry a firearm in various places, including schools.

Not everyone understands why we’re fighting for that, though, which is made clear by a student op-ed titled: “Protect Students, Not Guns.”

Let’s start with this framing. While the author may not have penned this particular headline–those are often changed by editors, after all–the idea here is that it’s an either/or thing and everyone sees it that way.

We don’t. We see it as protecting students with guns.

See, shootings are happening despite all the various gun control laws on the books. We recognize that won’t change, either. So, we want to empower good, decent folks to be able to protect themselves with their own guns and, by extension, protect others.

Clearly, the author disagrees.

After sharing an anecdote about people mistaking a balloon popping for a gunshot–clear evidence they don’t know anything about guns–we get to the meat of the push.

While many liberal politicians are starting to back stricter gun control legislation, there lacks a direct focus on the protection of students which has resulted in over 292,000 students witnessing this sort of gun-driven terror at school before even reaching college-age. Lawmakers need to narrow their immediate focus toward banning guns from school grounds, K-12 and college campuses alike, especially as 2021 saw the largest number of school shootings in the past two decades.

As of today, there are no federal laws that explicitly restrict guns on college campuses, leaving the decision to the discretion of each state. Only 16 states have enacted a ban on concealed weapons on campuses. K-12 campuses, on the other hand, have slight federal protection through the Gun-Free School Zones Act that aims to regulate gun possession in and near these schools. However, the act has a major loophole that exempts those who are licensed by a state to carry a handgun. Given that this law was enacted back in 1990, and there have been over 300 K-12 school shootings since then, something clearly isn’t working.

I’m not sure I like the implication here that somehow the “loophole” that allows those with a license to carry is somehow responsible for shootings at K-12 schools.

Why even mention the so-called loophole unless you want to make that implication in the first place?

It should be noted that absolutely none of those 300 school shootings since the law was enacted–or before then, for that matter–were carried out by people with carry permits. In other words, the author is making a connection in an effort to muddy the waters.

They do continue to do so as well.

Currently, 33 K-12 schools lack definitive laws against faculty carrying guns and, as of 2012, around 75% of university police departments carried guns. Despite this freedom, some states are fighting for even looser gun restrictions on school grounds, and others are making it easier than ever to obtain a gun in the first place.

What initiatives like these fail to acknowledge is that adding more guns to the equation won’t decrease gun violence rates and may actually do the opposite. Many of the states that are fighting for these looser restrictions, and that are already allowing faculty to carry guns, are also the states with some of the higher rates of gun-induced deaths.

And what do they mean by “gun-induced deaths,” anyway? Well, they mean both homicides and suicides plus accidental shootings and justified homicides.

That’s a terrible set of data to use to justify disarming people. After all, do more guns mean we have more justified shootings rather than murders or assaults?

The author won’t look at those numbers critically. They’ve got their mind made up and confirmation bias is a hell of a drug.

See, what the author and people like them never fail to understand is that guns are not the issue. A gun, in and of itself, does nothing. It’s a matter of whose hands the gun finds itself. In my hands, it’s a tool for relatively poor marksmanship training at the range and defending my family at home. It’s a threat to no one.

Take that same gun and put it in the hands of a violent felon and you’ve got a different matter entirely.

But some people have dedicated their lives to inhibiting our ability to defend our family, all while knowing on at least some level that these new laws will have minimal impact on criminal behavior, if any at all.

The author is just the latest example.