Professor Greg Hampikian of Idaho’s Boise State University recently penned a piece for the New York Times asking When May I Shoot a Student? Given that his thumbnail bio at the bottom of the page states that he is a professor of Criminal Justice (in addition to the Biology professorship he claims in the essay) I must assume that the piece is satirical, but since I am sure that he has colleagues as clueless as he is pretending to be, I am going to address his points as if they weren’t . . .
Greg starts out:
In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?
Well Greg, since Idaho’s self-defense laws will remain unchanged regardless of whether campus carry passes and since with you being a CrimJu prof and all you probably should be familiar with deadly force laws in general and Idaho’s in particular. In a nutshell, like so many other states, Idaho limits the use of deadly force to those times when you reasonably believe that you are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, or to resist a forcible felony. Really, it’s not that hard.
I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.
First things first; I would certainly hope that you hadn’t ever considered bringing a gun to campus because ‘just a biology prof’ or not you must have known that Idaho Statutes 18-3302 (C) makes it unlawful to carry “in a courthouse, juvenile detention facility or jail, public or private school”. Furthermore BSU policy # 12080 prohibits students, faculty and the public from carrying on campus on pain of “[e]xclusion or dismissal from employment, in the case of faculty and staff” (unless you were able to unscrew “prior written authorization from the Executive Director of Campus Security and Police Services” of course).
Second, I must take exception to your use of the word “many” in reference to the number of students likely to be carrying on campus. As of 12/18/12 The Inquisitr states there are 77,000 carriers in the state, and the Census says there are about 1.6 million residents in 2012/12. Again, according to the Census Bureau, in 2010 68.3% were 21 and over, so assuming that proportion remained unchanged and crunching these numbers we have about 7% of those 21+ have a permit. I can’t find any specific breakdown for ages of permit-holders, nor can I find how many of those are enhanced licenses, but let’s go conservative and say that permits are evenly distributed across ages and two-thirds of them are enhanced. This means that we will have at most about 4.70% of the population being eligible to carry on campus.
Now, according to BSU’s Facts and Figures brochure, in the fall of 2013 there were 22,003 students enrolled, with 65.5% of them being 21 and over. Only 79% of those are from in-state, and I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the number of out-of-state student willing to go through the hassle of getting an enhanced permit is low enough to get lost in the rounding errors of these calculations. Putting everything together we get about 535 students allowed to carry. Taking one more S.W.A.G. let’s say that a whopping 85% of those will actually be carrying at any given time and you are looking at 455 armed students out of 22,000. I hardly think this qualifies as “many”.
In his next paragraph Greg continues his theme of being an idiotic, panty-soiling hysteric:
I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned …
So Greg, in any of these encounters did you ever feel that you were in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm? If so, really? Seriously? Why weren’t you secure in the knowledge that BSU policy # 12080 prohibited students from carrying weapons on campus and therefore your notional “aggressive student” could only have been armed with a pencil? And if you never have felt in IDD-GBH why would that change with the new law? Are you perhaps one of those simple-minded individuals who believe that an inanimate object like a gun or a knife can somehow, Svengali-like, exert a malign influence, bending the will of lesser mortals so that they become ravening homicidal maniacs? If so, you might want to go back through your Biology 101 texts and figure out the difference between “animate” and “inanimate”.
But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.
Again with the omg OMG OMG! everyone’s gonna have a gun! vapors. Go back up and do the math, I’ll wait.
At present, the harshest penalty available here at Boise State is expulsion, used only for the most heinous crimes, like cheating on Scantron exams. But now that lethal force is an option, I need to know which infractions may be treated as de facto capital crimes.
Greg is obviously working hard at being a moron, so we’ll break it down for him again. Since Idaho limits the use of deadly force when IDD-GBH or to resist a forcible felony, cheating on the Scantron exams doesn’t qualify. Really, it’s not that hard.
I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip …
First off it is a magazine not a clip, but putting that aside ABSOLUTELY NOT! You may only shoot to stop the threat; if you keep shooting once the student is no longer a threat then you are committing homicide.
but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?
I have said it before elsewhere, and I will say it again here: In many jurisdictions merely firing a weapon is considered using deadly force, and if you have enough time to draw your weapon, aim deliberately enough to ensure you miss the target (and any innocent bystanders) and fire then your “reasonable fear” of D-GBH was not “imminent”. Trust me on this one Greg, you do not want your “warning shot” case to be the DA’s political springboard to higher office.
Second, since ID Statute 18-3304 Aiming Firearms At Others makes the behavior you are describing a misdemeanor, you could call the cops on those students (note that it is a misdemeanor and not a forcible felony, so no, you can’t shoot them).
Third, since the University’s laser safety program requires that Class 3R (the class most civilian laser aiming systems fall under) require that the operator to be trained on laser safety, you could call Campus Security and have the lasers confiscated until the miscreants can get training.
Or, what I would consider the optimal response, you could decline to be a jackhole and politely ask your students to put their pointers away and hold their questions.
Greg’s final scenario:
If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs …
First I would ask how it is that Greg knows that both students are armed (given the small chance of encountering even a single concealed carrier (see above) much less two) but, like so much else in this essay we shall pass lightly over that.
Second, how likely is it that a couple of permit holders would get into a shootout over coffee? If only there were some sort of factual, statistical answer to this question … Oh wait, there is! Up until early 2012, the state of Florida posted detailed statistics on permit applications and revocations. The most recent I can find comes courtesy of the Wayback Machine and shows that between 10/1/87 and 7/31/11, out of the 2,031,106 permits issued there were 168 revocations for use of a firearm in a crime. That works out to just a hair over 7 permit holders who committed a crime with a gun each year. Seven a year. Seven. Hardly sounds like a bunch of people who would get into a shootout over queue jumping at the coffee bar.
Third, Idaho and other state law is pretty clear on the subject of using deadly force. You can’t use it in response to cheating on an exam, or “proactively” if someone lases you, or if you “sense escalating hostility”, you can only use it to protect yourself or others from IDD-GBH or to prevent a forcible felony.
Really, it’s not that hard, but since Greg seem to want to make it hard I will give him some examples of when he may (in fact, should) shoot a student:
If, like the Columbine faculty you see a couple of kids wandering through the library shooting their classmates huddled under a table feel free to execute the miscreants.
If, like the Red Lake Senior High faculty, you hear gunshots and then see a former student in the doorway of your classroom carrying a pistol and a shotgun and shooting into the classroom, by all means return fire.
If like the VA Tech profs you hear shots in Norris 206 and then someone with a gun or two comes to your classroom and starts shooting, drop the sonofabitch.
If you are at Sandy Hook Elementary teaching a roomful of first-graders and hear shooting over the intercom, and then a man wearing black clothing, a green utility vest, carrying a Bushmaster XM15 and spare mags forces his way into the classroom, ventilate the scum.
Does this answer your question Greg?
 Hereinafter to be referred to as IDD-GBH