The New York Times never ceases to amaze me. My most recent NYT WTF: an op-ed by a biology and criminal justice professor at Boise State University entitled When May I Shoot a Student? That, friends, is one sick headline. Try reading it as a survivor of a school shooting, or the parent, friend or teacher of someone mowed-down by Seung-Hui Cho. Professor Greg Hampikian’s anti-gun agitprop is beyond the pale. And yet there it is: “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?” If you haven’t read it, prepare to be appalled . . .
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.
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; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.
Laughing yet? Me neither. Professor Hampikian’s opening salvo reveals that the academic lives in cloudcuckooland. Does he not understand that yes, one of his students could reach into a back pack and pull out a gun right now? Does he seriously believe that a piece of paper declaring Boise State University a “gun free zone” would stop a mentally unhinged student from unleashing death and destruction in his peaceful academic enclave?
Millions of Americans with concealed carry permits (or openly carrying firearms) know the legal rules of engagement: you are allowed to use deadly force if you or other innocent life face an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm. Which is the codification of common sense, if you think about it. Which Professor Hampikian has, but not in any sensible way.
I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; 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’m thinking the Prof cribbed that example from the New York Homeland Security Director who used his laser sights to liven-up a Powerpoint presentation. Which is kinda ironic, given that this moronic attempt at humor comes from the same sense of elitism that informed Jerome Hauer’s cavalier attitude to firearms.
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 and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?
I guess that the Prof missed that whole “an armed society is a polite society” thing. And yet there he is, at Boise State University, enjoying the safety created and maintained by Americans’ Second Amendment protections. I wonder if Professor Hampikian is of Armenian descent. If so, he might want to consider what it’s like to live amongst a disarmed populace. Specifically, the Armenian genocide. Let’s see him make fun of that.
The problem, of course, is not that drunken frat boys will be armed; it is that they are drunken frat boys. Arming them is clearly not the issue. They would cause damage with or without guns. I would point out that urinating against a building or firing a few rounds into a sorority house are both violations of the same honor code.
More elitism: let’s diss the fraternities. And paint all college students as emotionally immature and psychologically unstable people. Which is certainly true in some cases. As it is with college professors (e.g., the “esteemed” Illinois professor who murdered his family as a teen and the Alabama Professor who shot and killed three of her colleagues). But I guess it’s better for everyone to pretend that everyone’s disarmed at Boise – because it’s illegal.
In terms of the campus murder rate — zero at present — I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Which is why encouraging guns on campus makes so much sense. Bad guys go where there are no guns, so by adding guns to campus more bad guys will spend their year abroad in London. Britain has incredibly restrictive laws — their cops don’t even have guns! — and gun deaths there are a tiny fraction of what they are in America. It’s a perfect place for bad guys.
You gotta give Professor Hampikian credit: his use of reductio ad absurdum is masterful. But his “humor” rests on a bedrock of misdirection. It insinuates that the murder rate at Boise is zero because of the gun ban (discounting the small matter of Virginia Tech). He also uses Britain as an exemplar of gun ban paradise, when the result is a far more violent society than ours. Not that you can compare apples to oranges . . .
Again, the United States Constitution protects Americans’ natural and civil right to keep and bear arms. Regardless of the perceived danger to innocent life and academic freedom posed by the Boise Bill allowing legal firearms on campus, all Americans have a right to protect themselves by force of arms. Imagine a similar op-ed making fun of voter’s rights or freedom of speech. Would the New York Times publish it? I think not. Speaking of a lack of courage . . .
I want to applaud the Legislature’s courage. On a final note: I hope its members will consider my amendment for bulletproof office windows and faculty body armor in Boise State blue and orange.
I wonder if Colin Goddard would find that funny.