Imagine you're sitting in class at MU and someone with a gun enters the back of the lecture hall. As the shooter starts spraying bullets into the crowd, the entire body of students is completely defenseless as the scene unfolds. People try to run but no one can successfully get away during the chaos.
If someone calls the police, it would take a few minutes for an officer to arrive. How many lives could be taken or seriously harmed in those minutes? And that’s if the shooter doesn’t leave the room and venture across campus, like the Virginia Tech incident, putting officers on a goose chase.
If conceal and carry were allowed on campus, a student with a permit and proper defensive handgun technique could counter the shooter either by talking him or her down or, if out of other options, by force. Either way, the situation could be resolved in less time than it could take for proper security to arrive, with less injury and death to innocent people.
Sadly, Missouri’s (and America’s) reactive, rather than proactive, stance on the issue ensures that when the increasing number of incidents like this happen, more people stand the chance of dying because trust can’t be placed in 21-year-old college students. Right now, you have to be 23 years old to obtain a conceal and carry permit in Missouri.
Looking through comments on news stories dealing with conceal and carry on campus, most people immediately bring up the worst possible things that could happen if students were allowed to carry guns on campus. Some of these examples include students shooting people from stress, students using the weapons while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, non-carrying students being worried about other people having guns around them and students accidentally shooting people.
Allow me to shoot some holes (excuse the pun) in these arguments.
College is stressful, no doubt, but so is life, whether you’re in college or not. Perhaps students should all be locked in padded rooms without sharp objects during every finals week? Remember when the professor at the University of Alabama took a gun to her staff meeting after being denied tenure?
The possibility of students using guns while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is frightening, but people use cars every day under the influence. Should legislatures take away all the cars in the U.S. because only a percentage of the population is too irresponsible to use them correctly? Is this kindergarten?
If students who decide not to participate in conceal and carry are worried about others around them having guns, think about this - the law is called conceal and carry. It’s not pull your guns and show people you’re carrying. Nothing will look physically different on campus because weapons would be concealed in bags, pockets or on holsters under students’ clothes. How do you know someone beside you in class doesn’t have a knife in his or her pocket? You don’t, but it’s not something you think about because you never see the weapon.
In the same sense, muggers have no idea if the person they're about to mug has martial arts or self defense training. If everyone in the U.S. underwent proper self defense training, muggers would probably think again before acting. If college students were allowed to carry weapons, the same thing would happen. Cowardly school shooters understand that people are completely defenseless when they strike. We don't have to be.
The last comment is my favorite – someone accidentally shooting someone else. It does seem to be a recurring event, especially with children who find their parents' guns, which are most likely not locked up or properly put away like they should be. Even a former vice president accidentally shot someone. A comment I read once on a news story mentioned something about how the last thing students need is for someone to accidentally shoot someone else in the back of the head while adjusting his or her iPod in class.
That doesn’t even make sense.
In case you’ve never handled a gun before, and, ironically, it seems like a lot of people who weigh in negatively on the conceal and carry argument haven’t, guns have these devices called safeties on them. It’s a switch you flip so even if you pull the trigger, nothing will happen. One of the first things you learn when operating a gun is to never disengage the safety unless you have the gun pointed at something you intend to shoot, whether it be a burglar or a paper target. It’s equivalent to how one would turn the spray nozzle to "on" with a can of pepper spray before using it. How many people have pepper spray at MU? How many times has someone accidentally been sprayed while adjusting his or her iPod?
Although you can’t guarantee someone would keep the safety engaged on a gun, you can’t guarantee anything in this world. Will the person in the car behind you brake when you do? Maybe not 100 percent of the time, but the percentage probably doesn't dwindle below 95.
The last thing to which I want to draw attention is the common thought that if conceal and carry on campus ever passes, suddenly a gun and a permit will magically fall into every student’s lap. That will not happen. It’s like getting a driver’s license and a car.
Tim Oliver, who has been teaching defensive handgun and conceal and carry classes for more than 30 years, gave me the rundown on all the prices and procedures for conceal and carry in Columbia. You have to take an eight-hour class and pass a test in order to get a permit. You have to pay (although prices vary based on location) about $125 for the class and $11 for the permit. You also pay up to $100 for a very thorough background check. Buying the actual gun hasn’t even been brought into the equation, yet.
Oliver believes most quality handguns start at $300 and go up from there, although there are cheaper ones available.
“Your life is worth more than a cheap gun,” Oliver said.
Then comes the ammunition and the holster, should you choose to purchase one. At this point, an estimate of more than $500 is already wrapped up in getting everything for the permit and weapon. Can every college student afford that?
The process of getting a conceal and carry permit and a gun isn’t easy. It takes time, commitment, money and work — as it should.
If someone is going to shoot up a school campus, do you honestly think he or she is going to go through all of the trouble to pay for a class, pass it and pay for the background check and pass it and then get a gun just to kill innocent people? Hell no. He or she is going to cut the red tape and walk directly onto campus with a gun, ready to fire away.
Some people seem to think that 21 year olds aren’t mature enough to defensively handle a gun, yet they can have knives, cars, pepper spray and defend our country in the armed forces. It’s OK for Americans to defend our country as a whole, but not ourselves as individuals?
Corey Motley is a columnist for the Columbia Missourian, reviews video games for Vox Magazine and blogs about them on 1UP.com. He's also an avid Twitter user under the name coreymotley. He's not strong enough to defend himself against a mugger, but he can handle a handgun with ease and precision.