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Dennis Hennigan of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reckons campus carry advocates are irrational. “The pro-gun crowd assails college campuses as ‘gun-free zones’ that allegedly leave students and faculty as sitting ducks,” Hennigan writes. “But the fact is that currently gun-free campuses are far safer than the rest of our gun-saturated country.” When it comes to calculating campus carry’s cost – benefit ratio, Hennigan wants it both ways. His polemic points to the statistically low chances of rape and assault to dismiss the need for individuals to keep and bear arms on campus. At the same time, he uses statistically irrelevant example of gun violence to “strengthen” his case for campus gun bans. To wit, the Brady Campaign’s decision to hire Colin Goddard [above] as their spokesmodel, and constantly cite his experience any time anyone suggests allowing anyone to defend themselves with a firearm . . .

The Brady Campaign’s Colin Goddard, who still carries parts of three bullets in his body from the Virginia Tech shooting, has visited campuses in every part of the nation to argue that more guns on campus would mean more death and injury. The compelling documentary, Living for 32, chronicles his transformation from French student to gun control activist.

Compelling yes. A rational basis for sound public policy, restricting Americans’ right to keep and bear arms? Not so much. Let’s have a look at Hennigan’s stats:

The campus murder rate is 44 times lower than the general murder rate. Indeed, college students aged 18 to 24 experience violence at a 20% lower rate than non-students in the same age group. And 93% of the violence against students occurs off campus.

It would be nice if Mr. Hennigan would offer some citations in his statistical fusillade. But let’s take him at his word—and remember the difference between percentages and absolute numbers. For example, even if criminals assault just 100 students nationwide and seven of those incidents occur on campus, that’s still seven on-campus assaults. Is that OK? Is that a low enough percentage to justify a campus-wide gun ban?

Hennigan can make that argument. In fact, he does—without fessing-up to the “collateral damage” implications of his stats. But if that’s Hennigan’s case, how does it square with his single-minded focus on individual victims of violence? If a gun could prevent just ONE rape . . .

It’s a rhetorical conundrum, and Hennigan knows it. To shore-up his position, Hennigan must concede the possibility of armed self-defense and then argue that guns on campus would increase the odds of something bad happening to someone’s son or daughter.

Of course it is imaginable that a student with a gun could successfully defend against a campus killer, although other scenarios may be far more likely, such as a deadly crossfire taking even more lives, or the student who tries to draw his gun in defense becoming the first victim. The real problem is that, in order to create any realistic chance of successful resistance by gun, there must be lots of students carrying lots of guns all over the campus – in classrooms, dorm rooms, dining halls and sports arenas. Such a proliferation of guns and gun carrying introduces a panoply of new, everyday risks. For example, a student’s protest of a low grade could turn violent, a depressed student could commit suicide with his roommate’s gun, and a gun could discharge when it is accidentally dropped at a fraternity keg party. These kinds of shootings are far more likely to occur than a violent student entering a classroom intent on mass murder.

From hard stats to deliberate misinformation (surely Hennigan knows that modern guns are “drop-proof”) to baseless conjecture masquerading as statistical certainty. That’s what gun grabbers call “common sense.”

It’s also why Hennigan’s losing the fight: rhetorical trickery can’t hide the fact that he’s arguing against personal self-defense. While I agree with Martin Albright’s assessment that a concealed carrier’s ability to stop a spree killing is limited, how can you win hearts and minds by saying an individual shouldn’t defend themselves?

Truth be told, most adults (especially parents) know the difference between the dangers posed by a psychologically unstable individual and the dangers of being a victim of “normal crime.” Preventing the former may be largely a police matter, but the latter is an individual responsibility.

Parents don’t trust campus police—or police in general—to stop spree killers or rapists or violent assaults. Why should they? Where’s the evidence that they’ve done so? There’s plenty of examples where campus police didn’t prevent attacks; most recently their failure to take effective action against Jared Lee Loughner.

Parents know they have to trust in their child’s ability to stay out of harm’s way, hope their children don’t find themselves in harm’s way, and pray that their off-spring manages to do something to survive harm when it finds them. A gun is a means to that end. Consider this, via

On the first day of classes for Old Dominion University, a student is robbed at gunpoint on 49th and Elkhorn.

The robbery occurred just after midnight according to university officials.

Two men in a green Ford Explorer, one armed with a gun, pulled up to a student and demanded his sneakers. The student was not injured.

Students received alerts and emails about the robbery and were advised to exercise caution.

Assuming Hennigan has his way—most American colleges maintain a gun ban for legal carriers (read: adult) of concealed firearm—what would he have college students do to protect themselves in the statistically unlikely but nonetheless real chance that they’re attacked by a mugger, rapist or fellow college student? Exercise caution?

If and when Hennigan addresses that question, his rants will gain credibility. Of course, Hennigan can’t go there. Because once you start talking about martial arts or pepper spray or other forms of personal self-defense you’ve opened the door to a discussion which leads away from a gun-free environment. Because a gun is still the most effective form of self-defense there is. And that’s the truth.

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  1. For the life of me I can’t understand Mr. Goddard’s position. If I were a victim of a violent crime and lived to tell about it, I would say “Im not going to be a victim again.” I would be pro-gun. While im glad he survived and wish him calm seas for the rest of his days, he can continue to ‘baa baa’ like a sheep. This sheepdog has a vote when someone decides to punch my ticket. My wife works on a campus with no carry. She is under orders to use the officer at her disposal for escorts if she ever works late. Thankfuly, she works at a satellite campus with little traffic and a full time LEO literally next door, who unfortunately thinks Solitare on a PC is continuing ed hours, but better than nothing.

  2. It’s not only Hennigan who argues against self-defense. It seems to be all liberals. I just had this slammed home to me by a writer on, who seems to take exception with the persistent everyone-please-put-your-guns-away attitude of most progressives. I don’t know whether it’s wishful thinking or willful ignorance, but I wish those who supposedly advocate maximum personal liberty would afford us the same in the arena of personal protection.

      • Ralph and Silver, I disagree with your suggestion that he’s in it for the money.

        Imagine what he could have gotten from the NRA. No, Rokurotas right. Colin is on a mission. As hard as it is for you guys to accept it, he’s an intelligent young man who’s had the opposite reaction to his experience than you might have.

        • My dad got shot during the war (Bosnia 1992-1995) he is still alive and he isnt a soldier. So do you really think he wouldnt have wanted a gun to defend himself?

    • Too true. It’s one sick son of a bitch who exploits the deaths of 32 innocent people to push his own persona agenda based from his own cowardice. Considering this coward used to be in ROTC, I’d expect any decent member of the military to politely tell him to shut the hell up and grow some balls, because he’s an embarrassment to the military.

  3. If I really wanted to murder my professor, which meant I would be breaking the strictest law in our nation and have to face the harshest penalty, would I really care if I could receive additional years for bringing a gun on campus?

    • For some reason, these idiots don’t seem to grasp the concept that someone willing to break a major law such as committing murder, rape, or theft is NOT going to care about breaking a gun law.

  4. The fact that spree killings usually happen in high schools and learning campuses should be proof enough for most people. Some have their heads in the sand and refuse to remove it. How about rape on campuses? A lot of women report that the first time they have been assaulted or raped was on campus (Canadian stats anyway, specifically provincial) and many Canadian campuses have siren booths every couple of hundred feet from each other. They even state to walk in large groups as women or have male escorts (something the campus pays for and provides). So why is the next logical step to defense so illogical to some? Oh, head in the sand. Right.

    • I guess you’re conveniently forgetting about the I-Hop in Vegas. I know why too.

      The sad fact is concealed carry guys are rarely able to stop something when it happens. So encouraging people to get guns is a mistaken solution to the problem of how to deal with violence. It’s a fear-driven mistake.

      The upside is extremely rare, that you’ll use the gun to save the day. The downside is much more likely, that the gun will be MISused in some way.

      It must sting a bit to hear that unpalatible truth. Of course most of you have built tremendous defenses against even considering these things, this is called denial. But some of you must be quite shaken by this suggestion.

      • mikeb302000 says:
        September 10, 2011 at 8:01 AM
        “I guess you’re conveniently forgetting about the I-Hop in Vegas. I know why too.”

        Huh? How do you know what I am forgetting? And what do you know? Wait now… I could care less.

        “The sad fact is concealed carry guys are rarely able to stop something when it happens.”

        There were none there… also… stats?

        “So encouraging people to get guns is a mistaken solution to the problem of how to deal with violence.”

        No, encouraging people to get guns is a way to deal with violence that would otherwise lead to tragedy (look to your I-Hop reference above).

        “It’s a fear-driven mistake.”

        I think anyone who has ‘fear’ of being shot like a dog by a lunatic is completely rational (read the news ). I think anyone who thinks that violence isn’t the solution to unavoidable violence is insane (site wars, site dictators, site spree killings). Or do you think those people who want to kill as many as they can before killing themselves are open to hearing your weak, lame discussion?

        “The upside is extremely rare, that you’ll use the gun to save the day.”

        But great to hear when it does.

        “The downside is much more likely, that the gun will be MISused in some way.”

        Stats? Proof? Oh, me and you have been here before.

        “It must sting a bit to hear that unpalatible truth.”

        Nothing you say stings, Mikey. No more than a child making a fuss.

        “Of course most of you have built tremendous defenses against even considering these things, this is called denial.”

        Wow. You know people on the Interwebs so well. You must be like some kind of guy with a whole bunch of proof and stats to talk like that with so much confidence. Have any? Also.. what am I denying exactly?

        “But some of you must be quite shaken by this suggestion.”

        Only if I drank heavily, Mikey.

        Thanks for the laugh, Dude.


      • First, the I-Hop shooting was in Carson City.

        Second, How about the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, where CHL Jeanne Assam was credited with saving a hundred lives. And the Trolly Square Mall Shooting where off-duty officer Kenneth Hammond saved “countless lives.”

  5. I’m thinking he has survivor’s guilt and he wants to convince himself that not only could he have not done anything to help anyone, but that no one else could have done anything (who wasn’t a cop). Having people around who are armed and able to stop the killer and aren’t cops, would mean there’s an obligation to put up a fight. You know, the whole “evil wins when good people do nothing” sort of theme.

  6. A decent article, but the language unsurprisingly loaded with not-so-subtle insults. When was the last time you folks changed someone’s minds by insulting them?

    • Logic doesn’t work, statistics don’t work, common sense doesn’t work.

      Maybe insults will work since at least we’d be speaking their language.

  7. Crime on campus is like real estate. It’s all about “location, location, location'” Most University campuses aren’t in the Ghetto. They are in small university towns with low crime rates. There are relatively few big city schools where dangers lurk.

  8. I don’t want to give the yahoos at the Brady campaign any ideas but …… crime is lower on college campus because of demographics and socio-economic factors. Folks paying $20K/year to attend college don’t usually mug their fellow students for $20.

    Another factor impacting crime stats is that most serious crime is handled by the local police, not campus police. If your city has a geographic database of crimes reported, you’ll see a fat band of crime just at the edge of a college campus and very little on campus. I’ve seen this around Georgia Tech’s campus during several time periods.

    In GeorgiaCarry.Org’s report called Guns Good Bans Bad. It has several examples of the impact of crime on campus when gun bans are enacted (Georgia State) and when gun bans are repealed (Utah Universities, and Colorado State). Here is the link:

  9. The reason people like this never think of things like an individual’s right to self-defense, or what one person could do against a rapist/mugger, etc, is simple: like all petty tyrants and wannabe dictators, they think of society as one big ant farm of underlings that need to be “enlightened” and “guided.”

    What was it that old gungrabber argument about the Second Amendment said? That the 2A was a “common” right that just ensured a standing army?

    • Actually the Second Amendment was included because the founding fathers didn’t want a standing army. They thought it was ok to maintain a Navy because you can’t overthrow a government on land with ships at sea but a man on horseback was considered a threat to the Republic.

    • I think that all gun-grabbers should be required to wear something (say a necklace, like they make for old diabetics and such) to identify them as such, so that when shit happens, us “evil” gun owners know that they don’t want us to waste our time protecting them.

  10. Here’s a joke a recently heard. I think it’d go well on this site.

    Question: How do you tell the difference between Democrats,
    Republicans and Southern Republicans?
    The answer can be found by posing the following question:

    You’re walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children.
    Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes around the corner,
    locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the knife, and charges.
    You are carrying a Glock 9 mm, and you are an expert shot.
    You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family.
    What do you do?

    Democrat’s Answer:
    Well, that’s not enough information to answer the question!
    Does the man look poor or Oppressed? Have I ever done anything to him that
    would inspire him to attack? Could we run away? What does my wife
    think? What about the kids? Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and
    knock the knife out of his hand? What does the law say about this situation?
    Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it? Why am I carrying
    a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to
    society and to my children? Is it possible he’d be happy with just killing
    me? Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to
    wound me? If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get
    away while he was stabbing me? Should I call 9-1-1? Why is this street
    so deserted? We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day and
    make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such
    behavior. This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends
    for a few days and try to come to a consensus.

    Republican’s Answer:

    Southern Republican’s Answer:
    click….(sounds of reloading). BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click
    Daughter: “Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver

  11. Reply to mikeb302000:
    “I guess you’re conveniently forgetting about the I-Hop in Vegas. I know why too.”
    The IHOP incident proves nothing. One occurrance is not statistically valid. If someone dies in a traffic accident while wearing a seatbelt, does that “prove” that seatbelts don’t save lives?
    “The sad fact is concealed carry guys are rarely able to stop something when it happens.”
    “The upside is extremely rare, that you’ll use the gun to save the day. The downside is much more likely, that the gun will be MISused in some way.”
    And what do you cite as evidence that this is true, besides the belchings of Dennis Henigan?
    “It must sting a bit to hear that unpalatible truth.”
    Nope, not at all. I have heard it all before. The alleged “truth” of it exists only in the minds of those who advocate groveling or calling the police as the proper response to a lethal threat.
    “But some of you must be quite shaken by this suggestion.”
    Again – nope. My Steyr S9 will be companion today, just as always. It will not be MISused today, any more than in the past.
    Cheers, Rev

    • Wait wait wait – your political party is the one that always uses the “if it saves ONE life” line, yet when you clearly have proof of instances where lives have been saved by normal people carrying guns, all of the sudden you no longer believe your own mantra?


  12. Don’t trust his figures. Colleges spend MILLIONS to cover up on-campus crime. It’s drastically under reported because the college administration would rather save face than address problems.


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