Home Gun Control Johns Hopkins Arms Campus Cops While Lobbying Against Civilian Gun Ownership

Johns Hopkins Arms Campus Cops While Lobbying Against Civilian Gun Ownership

Johns Hopkins University guns
Iracaz at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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By Larry Keane

A recent analysis of the lobbying activity of Johns Hopkins University found a conflict in the institution’s priorities. According to the Baltimore Sun, Hopkins spent $581,000 in the 2019 legislative session in its effort to convince lawmakers to approve an armed police force.

This was a 58 percent increase from the prior session spending and made the University the third-biggest spender for Maryland’s 2019 General Assembly session. The proposal was met with controversy in the legislature, and on campus, where students held protests against the armed police force.

Request Granted

Their efforts paid off, with Gov. Larry Hogan signing the approval into effect for July 1. Hopkins can now create a police force of up to 100 armed officers for the campus and adjacent residential streets.

This is odd for the home of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, part of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, a center devoted to the promotion of gun control. This center’s activities aren’t limited to the publication of research, as one would expect from a University.

Lobby Against Gun Ownership

It also boasts of various state and federal lobbying activities, and of grassroots programs such as the Summer Youth Institute, “a 3.5 day workshop where youth will work directly with Center faculty to learn how to translate gun policy and research into action, inform advocacy efforts, and pursue actionable change within their own communities.”

Looking at federal expenditures alone, the University has already spent $130,000 this year on issues including firearms. Last year the institution spent $660,000 and in 2017, it spent $800,000.

So while the institution will now have guards protecting the campus with firearms, will Hopkins also continue to declare that firearms are the problem in society?


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel at National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. I don’t really see this as a conflict of priorities or hypocrisy.

    Most of the garbage they try to sell on gun control is an argument that only cops and military personnel should have guns. They’re hiring cops.

    It will be a cold day in Hell before they promote students and staff defending themselves. That’s a job for agents of the almighty State, which is where they’re, well, I guess advocating, that the guns be, with agents of the state.

    • Yet, out of the other side of their mouth, they demonize cops as cold blooded killers against non-white people. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent line of thought here.

      • “There doesn’t seem to be a coherent line of thought here.”

        There is a coherent line of thought. It goes like this: “No matter what the circumstances say whatever it is that enhances power of the State and minimizes the freedom and power of the individual”.

        Viewed through that lens pretty much everything statists in general, and especially the Lefties, do makes perfect sense.

    • @strych9: “I don’t really see this as a conflict of priorities or hypocrisy. . . . . They’re hiring cops.”

      Are they hiring “cops” or forming an “armed band”?

      We understand “cops” to be public servants answerable to elected officials and legislators. Deputy sheriffs answerable to the elected sheriff. Police officers answerable to their chief who is answerable to the mayor and city council.

      To whom will these “cops” be answerable? To the institution known as Johns-Hopkins. I don’t recognize that name as a political body; not a municipality nor a township nor a county; certainly not a state. Isn’t J-H a private institution? Isn’t it indistinguishable from, say, the Great Northern Railroad or General Motors?

      A railroad or manufacturer can hire, say, Pinkertons to guard their property and personnel. Yet, we wouldn’t call Pinkertons “cops”; they are armed guards, answerable only to their private interests who hire them. Do citizens of Maryland elect the trustees of J-H? If not, then just who are these trustees? How are they answerable politically?

      Suppose, purely hypothetically, these J-H “cops” began black-jacking or shooting some class of students. Suppose cis-male caucasian Trump supporters; purely for illustration. To whom would voters appeal if they objected to the excessive use of force on pamphleteers speaking/publishing on or about J-H properties?

      A couple of states included in their 2A analogues in their state constitutions exclusions concerning “armed bands”. It’s not immediately obvious what this term might have meant; but, likely, it was private para-military units that they had in mind. Perhaps KKK; or mining company thugs.

      It seems more than likely that J-H intends to form a para-police unit of armed private guards. If J-H is (as I suppose) a private institution – NOT a GOVERNMENT – then on what constitutional authority does J-H claim a power or right to arms?

      It seems not to be a “power” of a “government”. Perhaps it is a “militia” not under regular control under a governor or the President. Might they be asserting “the right of the People to keep and bear arms”? I appeal to J-H to make the basis of their claim clear.

      Certainly, we PotG would all support enthusiastically their claim if based on “the right of the People”. Just as each trustee has that right, the trustees collectively have the right to hire others to bear arms on their behalf.

      • +1

        Well said, Mark. A structured, reasoned argument ending with a definitive question awaiting an answer. Long enough to provide the framework of your argument, while not being padded with superfluous tangentials to make it longer than necessary.

        I would love to read more well-formed comments here at the TTAG Fight Club.

      • Railroad police typically have the same legal authority as government funded police except that their jurisdiction may be restricted to railroad property and crimes against a railroad.

      • Most higher education institutions in Pennsylvania have their own police forces. They have to have the same Act 120 training and certification as municipal police and get the annual Act 180 updates to maintain certification. they have all of the powers and authority of municipal police.

      • See my reply to LKB, below.

        They asked the state to grant the University a portion of the powers the state usually grants to a municipality. This request was approved.

        I don’t know the specifics of Maryland law but I doubt very highly that this a grants the campus police a special status. It grants them the legal power of a city police department under the oversight of the state as well as the legal obligations common to authorized police departments.

        It’s not like they just hired a bunch of mercs and Paul Blarts to wear a spiffy uniform and call themselves cops without any credentials to do so or without any oversight.

        Could this create a conflict of interest because of who writes the checks? Yes, but that’s not a grant of immunity from criminal or civil action any more than being a city cop would get them and in reality the university being private DOES have some sort of bottom line to protect which is different than a city which can just dip into taxpayer pockets at will.

      • “…then on what constitutional authority does J-H claim a power or right to arms?”

        Also, upon further reflection the quoted statement is problematic. I’m going to kind of consider it in a vacuum outside the facts that JHU asked for and received authority to create a PD of their own.

        What Constitutional authority does JHU claim? How about the same 2A protection and the rights to private property that you claim? Or are you only allowed to have your gun in public? Are you only allowed to defend yourself or others in public? Can you not, on your own property, defend the life and limb of another person using a firearm? I’m fairly confident that outside of California (a joke there for my Cali friends) you can.

        I mean, if we assume that it’s a fully private institution (it’s not really but for the sake of argument) then it’s no different than your property in terms of Constitutional protections.

        In both cases you and your family/friends and the folks at the university all enjoy a 2A right as individual citizens. You also have a right to private property, a right to make the rules for your property within reason and the right to associate/disassociate with each other freely. So is JHU’s forming of an “armed band” to enforce their rules on their own property any different than you and a couple of your buddies carrying guns on your property? In the macro, no, it’s not. It’s freely associating people doing with their property what they wish and using the 2A to defend their rights on that property. If your friend’s child is attacked by a rapist on your property you and your friend both have the right to defend your friend’s child on your property and use the necessary force to do so up to and including deadly force if that becomes required.

        The question of answerability to the law, assuming an “armed paramilitary band” of people here, is to the laws applicable in that jurisdiction (federal, state, county, municipal etc). It’s not like ruthlessly beating someone on your own property for no real reason is legal. You can’t justify cold blooded murder by saying “Well he was on my property and he knew the rules!”. It’s still assault and battery in the first instance and murder in the latter instance. Neither can they. The law still applies, so much as it does for private property, on all private property no matter who owns it.

        This is no different.

    • Yes.

      ALL Socialists advocate for ALL power to be given to the State.

      “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
      Mao Tse-tung

      “Ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State.” ~ Heinrich Himmler.

    • S9, you have whiffed badly here.

      Johns Hopkins is a *private* university. They are not a branch or department of any governmental entity, nor are they accountable or answerable to the public.

      This situation would be comparable to Bloomberg lobbying the NY legislature to pass a special law allowing Bloomberg Corp. to have its own armed security force with powers of arrest, NYC laws notwithstanding. (Heck, if the MD law actually makes the JHU private goon squad officially police officers, are they exempt from NFA and thus can acquire / carry post-1986 FA toys?)

      If JHU wants armed security, they should be limited to what other private companies are allowed to do (I have no idea what MD/Baltimore law allows, but I suspect it’s pretty anemic). And for JHU to be obtaining the “extra special right” to have armed security while demanding and working for the rest of us to be denied that ability is hypocrisy at its fullest.

      • Why don’t the students etc at JHU during a time of trouble simply call the local police department as they expect us to do?

      • Without getting into a long philosophical debate about what powers cops have over and above that of “regular citizens” I will simply say that there is a multi-state precident for what JHU has done here.

        They asked for and recieved the authority to create a police force under state guidelines for creation of such an entity. That is entirely within the State’s power to do assuming that Maryland doesn’t have a law specifically barring this action. The state has the power to create and destroy the entity we call a city or a municipality. They also have the power to allocate the powers normally vested in a municipality to other entities provided that said entities follow the guidelines established by the state in which that entity resides.

        Futher, JHU is not actually a fully private institution. It receives government money in the forms of student loans and in the form of grants.

        Many private universities have a police department. There are a few different ways that they go about creating them in terms of staffing but under all circumstances that department is effectively a municipal police department on equal footing with the city/town in legal aspects and subservient to the state in regards to regulations and standards.

        In fact, you might even view them as better in some ways since they’re legally the same as regular cops but at least partially funded by private money rather than taxes while still under the same (poorly enforced but that’s another issue) rules as other departments and with the same oversight.

        In comparison to private companies this is not really a valid comparison since rules for private security vary from rather relaxed to much more intense than local police. You can find places where private security is legally authorized to use lethal force nearly entirely at their own discretion and also carry NFA machine guns, even post-86 MGs that are licensed to the corporation and issued to the personel like a PD or military unit. Go fuck around at some of the private installations that do classified government contracting and you’re far more likely to get shot by private security than by you are by a LEO.

        Overall I don’t much care about this because JHU asked for and was granted authority which is within Maryland’s purview to grant and the oversight is provided by the state which is theoretically overseen by the people of Maryland. If the state fails in it’s oversight of a PD that it authorized then it’s up to the people to exercise oversight of the government. If the people fail to do that, well, that’s the way a Republic works or doesn’t work. If the people don’t like what’s been done here then they can exercise their oversight powers to change the state law to require JHU to incorporate itself as a municipality as a prerequisite for having a PD.

        • I call BS on one point of your apologia for JHU . ..

          >>You can find places where private security is legally authorized to use lethal force nearly entirely at their own discretion and also carry NFA machine guns, even post-86 MGs that are licensed to the corporation and issued to the personel like a PD or military unit. <<

          Bullshit. Name *one* private security operation that’s authorized to possess / acquire post-1986 FA stuff. (The post ‘86 exception is for military and LE only.)

          Go ahead, we’re listening. (I suspect we’ll hear crickets.)

          If legislatures can simply decree that private security (which is what the glorified mall-cops JHU will hire will be) are “really” police officers, then can for instance Gov. Abott and the Texas leg. declare other private property owning, non-felon, not-declared-NCM gun owners are private policemen for their own property, with powers of arrest (and sovereign immunity for actions taken)? And possess all the NFA toys we want, a-la your local constabulary?

    • Obama hands out select fire M16s, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers to city and college police departments. Ivy league colleges really do like MILITARY WEAPONS. When THEY possess them. The Ivy league really does like THEIR OWN machine guns. I can’t find the story but I think Johns Hopkins did get M16s. And kept them until they were outed.

      “As of 2014, at least 117 colleges and universities in the United States have used the 1033 program to acquire military-grade equipment through their campus police departments.[26] Higher education institutions that participate in the program include local community colleges, state universities, and Ivy Leagues, ranging from Hinds Community College, University of Central Florida, University of California, Columbia University, and Yale.[27]”


  2. They argue that you and those around you are more safe without a gun present. So therefore IMHO it is a direct conflict. How could it not be?

    • Captain Obvious,

      Gun grabbers assert that the masses are safer in public if they are disarmed based on the following claims:
      (1) The masses are prone to angry outbursts. If the masses are disarmed, that will limit the destruction of their angry outbursts.
      (2) The masses are bumbling idiots. Even if the masses are armed, they still will be unable to stop an attacker because they are bumbling idiots. Even worse, the masses will injure bystanders in the process with errant bullets and actually increase the number of casualties.
      (3) If the masses are disarmed, there will be far fewer firearms in circulation which raises the black market price of illicit firearms beyond the reach of most criminals, which results in fewer violent criminals with firearms, which results in less destruction when violent criminals attack with alternate tools and weapons.

      Of course real world experience tells us how often the masses exhibit angry outbursts and shoot people without legal justification: never (statistically speaking) if we eliminate angry outbursts from hardened criminals.

      And real world experience also tells us that the masses are not bumbling idiots when it comes to self-defense with firearms. How often do the masses fail to stop attackers and increase the casualty count of an attack with errant bullets? Again, never (statistically speaking).

      Finally, real world experience also tells us that raising the black market price of illicit firearms beyond the reach of most criminals does NOT result in less destruction even though violent criminals are limited to alternate tools/weapons. Why? Because the masses no longer have the means to stop violent criminals armed with knives, clubs, and even vehicles. As a result, violent criminals believe they are invincible and attack with much greater frequency and actually increase the number of victims.

      Then again, none of this — the truth — matters to gun grabbers whose brains operate on emotion, fantasy, and their whimsical notion of virtue. As long as something feels good and right, even if based in fantasy (such as their flimsy claims that I listed above), gun grabbers run with it, facts be damned.

  3. Hopkins needs armed guards to protect to protect its elitist students, yet Hopkins gets millions of dollars in Grant’s every year to save gunshot victims and deal with the drug epidemic.

    The two main money makers in Baltimore City are University of Maryland Medical Center and John’s Hopkins Hospital. Between the two of them and the city getting loads of cash every year, it’s truly amazing they havent solved these problems yet.

  4. Why is this news again? The Hollywood elite, the politicians, the billionaire backers, and most large-ish gun control figures have armed guards as well while stating the same things Johns Hopkins states. Do we report on them too now? This type of thing has been going on ever since the first ever gun control was passed and will continue to exist as long as there are humans. We are a hypocritical creature by nature gun grabbers doubly so.

  5. It’s an sad, old refrain: “Guns for me but not for thee.”

    The self-anointed elite never fail to disgust.

  6. Johns Hopkins and the NRA are much alike. Both want extra rights for special people. Special people such as Eric Swalwell’s father, the cop. Such as Swalwell’s brother, the deputy sheriff. Such as Swalwell himself, a former prosecutor. If you are in law enforcement and you think you should be able to bear arms where I cannot, you are the problem, not the solution.

    • “If you are in law enforcement and you think you should be able to bear arms where I cannot, you are the problem, not the solution.”
      That ain’t all they are!

  7. Wait a second. Johns Hopkins is in the city of Baltimore. Either the Baltimore police are thought to be inadequate, which should be spelled out, or the purpose of the private police force is to protect only the professors and administrators (known liberals) from the out-of-control crime in parts of Baltimore. If a student or civilian on the campus calls 9-1-1, they will not reach the private police force only the Baltimore police. Good luck with that.

  8. Is campus monitor one step up or one step down from mall monitor? The mall guys get those nifty 2wheel mini Tesla POS

  9. Now why does John Hopkins need for its own armed police force when it has the Baltimore Police Department to protect them? Perhaps the locals of that “Chocolate City” are not as hospitable as they used to be…?

  10. Why are LK and the NSSF complaining about inconsistencies? He wrote the release endorsing the candidate for ATF director who praised Sotomayor’s 2A credentials and called for an assault weapons ban after Sandy Hook. That seems a lot worse than people who say only cops should have guns wanting more cops. Plus, it’s the administration asking for cops, not the antigun professors and “researchers.”

  11. Having worked at JHU in the ‘90’s, the need for an armed campus police force is obvious. At the medical center, it was scary to walk one block off campus to the credit union. Large numbers of city cops hung out on the corners, bullshitting with each other and basically doing nothing productive. Many years before that I worked as unarmed security for a campus police department at another big name private university. The real campus police were trained at the city police academy and had arrest rights on campus and on the intervening streets. None of this negates JHU’s hypocritical statist stand, but I can understand their desire to literally take the law into their own hands, because on the Baltimore streets there is no law except the jungle.


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