LETTER: Conceal-and-carry on Missouri campuses would increase safety

Monday, May 4, 2009 | 12:27 p.m. CDT; updated 4:33 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 4, 2009

This letter is addressed to Katy Steinmetz. Katy, in the Kansas City Star an opinion you wrote from back in April was paraphrased as an argument against allowing concealed weapons on college campuses. I'm sure you've probably already received e-mails regarding the original opinion. But I want to give you my perspective; I have been a police officer for 13 years.

You wrote, "Legislating based on extremely rare, hypothetical events is misleading, not to mention incredibly speculative." This is an extremely naive way to deal with the serious issue of school shootings. They are not hypothetical; they happen and happen all too frequently. My personal belief is that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry a firearm concealed for their own protection. If a violent crime occurs in their presence then they have the ability to protect themselves and their families. If during the course of this violent crime they choose to act and prevent the murder of other civilians they can do so as well. All it takes is one person with a firearm to stop a murderous rampage.

Case in point would be the criminal shooter at the nursing home last month in South Carolina. Granted, it was a police officer who stopped the criminal, but he was alone with no help and he prevented more death. Will every shooting be stopped? Of course not, but if a shooter can be stopped, isn’t five dead better than 25 dead? What if your friends and family were in that group of 20 saved? Where I work in the Kansas City area, most police agencies have about a five-minute response time and in five minutes a lot of people can be killed before police arrive. So give the citizens the option to help themselves.

I think one thing that you and others who are against concealed carry do not understand is the mindset of those of us who carry a firearm at all times. I do not carry out of some desire to feel like a “flawless Wyatt Earp,” and I will brandish my gun only when the possibility exists I will have to use it in defense. I carry a gun because I will do anything I can to avoid becoming a victim, and if I can help save the lives of innocent people, I will insert myself into a situation and do my best to help others. If the day comes I have to act in defense, I don’t want any glory, to be called a hero or any other hyperbole, I just want the thug who caused me to act to be stopped. This mindset extends to everyone I know who carries a concealed firearm, not just off-duty police officers. Concealed-carry opponents seem to have a difficult time separating the “good guys” from the “bad guys” and simply assume that all those who carry a gun do so for nefarious reasons.

Your contention that self-defense can be attained through less-lethal means such as pepper spray is just not accurate. In some cases less lethal can be appropriate, but any less-lethal system has limitations. Pepper spray, batons and Tasers are quite simply close-quarters defense systems and are not intended for a lethal force situation. The effective range for the pepper spray I carry at work is about 15 feet, a police Taser is 21 feet (civilian models are 15 feet) and I must be face-to-face to use my baton. If a shooter is 25 feet away down a hallway, I am now out of luck with whatever less lethal I happen to be carrying. I have used pepper spray on combative people only to have it blow back in my face or for the subject to ignore it and become more agitated and thus continue fighting. Pepper spray is not a very effective defensive system, it’s better than nothing, but quite frankly, the only response for an individual armed with a lethal object (gun, knife) is a an equal or elevated lethal response.

But have no fear, even though some would vilify me for carrying a gun, I will never use my gun on anyone who is not a lethal threat. And I will be there to defend even those such as yourself who dislike me for carrying it. The life that is saved by a concealed-carry permit holder could be anyone.

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Robert craig May 4, 2009 | 12:54 p.m.

Well said, Officer Prince. Your points are well made and borne from experience. Thank you!

(Report Comment)
Matt Finazzo May 4, 2009 | 1:28 p.m.

Excellent letter! Very well put.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 4, 2009 | 2:39 p.m.

And the Taser does not really have the range that is stated in this letter.. The Taser actually has about the same range or less than CapStun Tear Gas does...


(Report Comment)
Eric Prince May 4, 2009 | 3:57 p.m.

Actually, the Taser X26 (Law Enforcement model) will fire it's probes up to 35 feet, but past 20 feet the accuracy declines. So yes, the Taser does have the range as stated in my letter. Taser International X26 info page:

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 4, 2009 | 5:58 p.m.

Actually, as the barbs separate, the separation distance becomes too great after about 18 feet to accurately put both barbs into the body to create the arc inside the body that is needed to cause the immobilization of the subject..... Unless both barbs penetrate the body, the Taser is ineffective.

I am not saying that you don't have 25 feet of length, what I am saying is that you don't have an effective range after about 18 feet.

The M16-A1 Rifle will fire a round thousands of meters, but it's maximum effective range is 460 meters. Same principle with the Taser.

While on the mats this may not matter, but in the field not taking this into consideration can make the difference between life and death.


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 4, 2009 | 6:10 p.m.

However, Mr. Prince, our points are the same. Regardless of 7 to 10 feet of debatable effective range on the Taser, the bottom line is that if someone is knowledgeable on Police tactics, they will be smart enough to defeat any of these close quarter defense systems with a firearm.

First of all, if you consider the 21 foot rule, you are more than likely out of effective range of the Taser. And if I were to have to use a firearm, I'd be trying to get that kind of distance with that firearm.

Second of all, even if you got down behind cover, and I had my weapon drawn, and you managed to get your Taser out, I have some doubts about your deployment time on your Taser against my time to fire an already leveled firearm.

And third of all, I think that we can both agree that it would not be wise to bring a Taser to a gun fight....

In the overall, we both agree on this issue; Mr. Prince...


(Report Comment)
Eric Prince May 4, 2009 | 9:29 p.m.

I never said I would bring a Taser to a gun fight because I wouldn't. My point was illustrated, the original author of the editorial I responded to asked why less lethal means of defense could not be used. My response was that Tasers, OC and Batons are all close quarters defense weapons. I also stated a lethal threat should be met with a lethal response.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 4, 2009 | 10:25 p.m.

The last statement I made was in effect, that I agree with you.....

The point I was trying to make with the Taser only reiterates the point of your letter.

We actually have more in common on this issue than not, Mr. Prince.

Most college students would not know how to respond to an attack by a gunman on their school. And their chances of surviving go down significantly if their only alternative is a less than lethal defense system that requires more thought and skill to effectively engage the target, than a firearm does. So, what I am saying is that a college student's best chance of survival in an "active shooter scenario" is to have access to a firearm. The student does not have to figure out how to close distance to make the device effective, the student does not have to worry about follow up as much after the device is deployed, and the student has a fair chance of reacting swiftly enough to shoot the target once he or she has drawn their firearm.

We are really not apart on this issue, Mr. Prince.


(Report Comment)
Ross Fogle May 5, 2009 | 12:31 p.m.

I always have a weapon! Always!
Not to make me feel tough...
to make me feel able to attempt to save myself and others from crime, death and murder.
Not to kill anyone...
but to keep from being killed!
Not because I hate my government ...
But because I know the limitations of my government!
Not because I'm angry...
but so I don't spend the rest of my life wishing I had been prepared!
Not because I'm paranoid..
but because I know there are real threats in the world!
Not because I feel inadequate..
but because when facing 3 armed thugs, I am inadequate!
not because I love it...
but because I love life and those that make it meaningful to me! I will not suffer their loss or mine to another's madness, rage, criminal intent or death wish!

(Report Comment)
Ross Fogle May 5, 2009 | 12:41 p.m.

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated..

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

(Report Comment)
Ross Fogle May 5, 2009 | 12:41 p.m.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their own Government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars.

The first year results are now in:
List of 7 items:
Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent.
Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent.
Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!
In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not, and criminals still possess their guns!
While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.

There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the ELDERLY. Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort, and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns. The Australian experience and the other historical facts above prove it.
You won't see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.
Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.
Take note my fellow Americans, before it's too late!
The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this history lesson.
With guns, we are 'citizens'. Without them, we are 'subjects'.
During WWII the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!
If you value your freedom, please spread this anti-gun control message to all of your friends.
The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense.
The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either.
The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.

(Report Comment)
Patrick Cornell May 5, 2009 | 10:50 p.m.

I am very much in favor of citizens being able to conceal and carry a gun but on a college campus that is very inappropriate. I don't know if you have ever been in a lecture hall full of college students but I can guarantee you that none of them have the training or practice to be able to properly defend anyone with a gun. I do not want to be sitting in class wondering who is carrying a gun on them at that very moment, and what would happen if one of them has a bad day. The point is that if something does happen and you have 5 or 6 kids in a lecture hall of 400, the shooter is not going to be the only one killed. There would be a lot of collateral damage and that is not something that as a student I am willing to risk.

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice May 6, 2009 | 8:05 a.m.

The 'screaming' with ALL CAPS really lends credibility to the argument. I'm persuaded. Only a rational person would rant and scream like that.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 6, 2009 | 8:13 a.m.

Patrick Cornell wrote:

"I can guarantee you that none of them have the training or practice to be able to properly defend anyone with a gun."

Really? Even students who are ex-military? They're the ones most likely to have the money and training to get a CCW anyway.

You can buy an awful lot of beer, condoms, and mobile minutes with what it costs to get a CCW permit. Most students aren't going to make it a priority to carry.


(Report Comment)
Matt Finazzo May 6, 2009 | 10:27 a.m.

"I can guarantee you that none of them have the training or practice to be able to properly defend anyone with a gun."

Patrick you clearly did no research whatsoever nor attempted to educate yourself before posting that comment. This bill, if passed, would not give anyone carte-blanche to shove a Glock down their pants before heading off to their 10am Stat class. Anyone hoping to carry needs a minimum 8-hour training course by a certified instructor.

(Report Comment)
Patrick Cornell May 6, 2009 | 1:55 p.m.

And do you believe that an 8 hour course properly prepares someone to handle a shootout situation in a classroom?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 6, 2009 | 2:45 p.m.

An eight-hour course might enable one to properly use a gun, but will you truly be ready to handle an unforeseen circumstance on campus? How many hours are spent preparing a person to be a police person or an FBI agent?

It has been suggested that should this silly business become law that each public university campus have the option of whether guns may be carried on their campus. I hope that occurs, because there are still some campuses where the management isn't wearing its brains in its buttocks.

(Report Comment)
Ro Sila May 7, 2009 | 9:02 a.m.

Ellis Smith writes: It has been suggested that should this silly business become law that each public university campus have the option of whether guns may be carried on their campus. I hope that occurs, because there are still some campuses where the management isn't wearing its brains in its buttocks.

Mr. Smith: Since when is it a good idea to let <anyone> decide which Constitutional Right <you> get to excercise? Oh yeah, poll taxes were a great idea. Refusing to let female citizens vote was a winner, too. If Mr. Smith wants to see someone with his brains in his buttocks, he should look in the mirror.

(Report Comment)
Matt Finazzo May 7, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.


"And do you believe that an 8 hour course properly prepares someone to handle a shootout situation in a classroom?"

Define "properly." Draw a perfect bead on the assailant and fire one headshot instantly neutralizing him or her? Well, probably not, but I bet you can't show me a police officer who can do that either (national statistics put center mass hits by law enforcement around 20%).

What it does do is give you another option, and it certainly changes the odds. Maybe a little handgun isn't going to be a match for a big long gun, but it gives you another out besides hide and be killed when the assailant finds you or run and die tired.

(Report Comment)
bradley porter June 20, 2009 | 9:11 p.m.

I would like to thank the officer for writing this letter. I'm a college student for concealed carry on campus, and I appreciate his support of my right to preserve my life.

(Report Comment)
Jacob Petlon July 6, 2009 | 9:48 p.m.

I have a concealed carry permit. I carry at work, at the grocery store, at the mall, anywhere I am legally allowed to do so. I attend a tactical pistol defense class once a month, as well as practice on my own. I am also becoming a college student this fall. So becoming a college student changes my ability to react to a situation? I guess stepping onto a college campus suddenly erases all of my prior firearms experience.

And nothing against police officers, but I bet I go to the range more often than half of the cops in my town.

(Report Comment)
DANNY YELTON January 7, 2010 | 10:08 a.m.

MORE GUNS ON OUR STREETS MEANS MORE INNOCENT LIVES LOST. Americans seem more concerned about guns than healthcare. The nra and gun manufacturers created a false fear that Obama was going to ban firearms to cause a "panic". Gun prices have sky-rocketed, gunnuts were suckered!

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock January 7, 2010 | 10:10 a.m.

Danny you have not commented but a few times and then you go and post on several stories that are months old. What gives?

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer January 7, 2010 | 10:51 a.m.

Sharrock...and your point is? Humilation? Embarassment? I think a lot of readers will click on the name and then they will see a summary of comments. They will respond to those comments, often on stories that are days, weeks or months old. For example, your comment "The reason the businesses are near poor areas only makes sense business wise" sounds really stupid on its own, but it was posted on the Payday loan article, where it has some relevance.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock January 7, 2010 | 12:29 p.m.

Jason what on earth are you talking about? Your comment makes little sense. I get that some people may comment on stories that are old but you look at the stories they are all really old and are not related. So it was like he had to search for those particular stories or subjects. Then to make a bunch of comments when it is obvious that he is not a regular blogger I found it odd and was curious that's all.

(Report Comment)

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