On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that, according to anti-gun Democrats who supported it, closed a loophole in the state’s current law making it illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school or a college campus without permission. Up until Saturday, that loophole allowed those carrying concealed to bring a firearm onto those properties.
State Senator Lois Wolk introduced the bill in February. It was supported by Peggy McCrum, president of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who stated:
California’s college campuses and K-12 schools should be sanctuaries for learning, [free] from the fear of gun violence. [The new law] will make schools safer and decrease students’ risk of being injured or killed.
There is no record of McCrum’s retraction as a result of the massacre in what was essentially a “gun-free” zone in Roseburg, Oregon, a week earlier.
Nor is there any record of either her or Senator Wolk hearing what California's Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs had to say:
This will put thousands of innocent lives at risk. Criminals will know that their intended victims are totally vulnerable when they're on California school grounds because [the new law] will ensure that they're defenseless against a violent attack.
Nor did McCrum apparently take any advice from a letter she and Senator Wolk received from the National Rifle Association (NRA) that said that passage of the bill would raise “significant concerns under the Second Amendment by further infringing the rights of law-abiding — and properly licensed and trained individuals — to possess a firearm for self-defense.”
All of which, in light of the Oregon massacre, raises the questions: Would an armed student in that attack have made any difference? Could that be proved? Would that have changed any minds in Sacramento?
One unarmed student at Umpqua Community College did try to end the attack and was shot — seven times — for his trouble. Others were wounded, and nine of them shot to death. It wasn’t until armed police arrived on the scene that the shooter took his own life.
In 2013 at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on campuses, while 14 more offered similar bills in 2014. Two of those bills passed in 2013 — one in Kansas and the other in Arkansas.
On the other hand, five states considered bills further restricting existing firearm regulations in 2013, but none of them passed.
Courts have entered the fray as well. In March of 2012 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the University of Colorado’s policy banning guns from its campus violated the state’s concealed-carry law, while in 2011 the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the Oregon University System’s ban on guns on campuses which allowed those with permits to carry concealed on these public campuses.
Unfortunately, the Umpqua Community College administration had banned guns on its campus, allowing the shooter a 20-minute window to wreak havoc before the killings ended.
The Second Amendment is not an issue, apparently. Instead, it’s whether the presence or absence of firearms would reduce or increase the chances of future attacks by deranged criminals. Advocates argue that armed students could prevent, or at least limit, mass shootings, while those opposed say that those same students can’t be trusted in an atmosphere of drugs, alcohol, and excessive testosterone.
At present 19 other states have banned campus carry, while it is legal in eight. Sixteen states have legislation pending that would allow concealed carry, with various exemptions, provisos, and exceptions.
The question is, are there concrete, provable historical incidents where an armed citizen stopped or limited a massacre? Would anti-gun politicians care even if such proof would be conclusive?
Here are just a few such incidents:
On October 1, 1997, a shooting at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, was stopped by the school’s vice-principal, who retrieved a pistol from his truck and detained the shooter until police arrived.
On January 16, 2002 a shooting at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, was stopped by two students with handguns.
A mass church shooting at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was ended on Sunday, December 9, 2007 by a church member who had her concealed carry permit and her sidearm.
In College Park, Georgia, on May 4, 2009, two gunmen entered a party on campus and started threatening the partygoers. One of the students who had access to a handgun shot one of the gunmen to death and drove off the other one.
There’s the Parker Middle School dance shooting on April 24, 1998 in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, that was ended almost immediately when the shooter was confronted by a man with his shotgun.
There’s the New Destiny Christian Center shooting in Aurora, Colorado, on April 24, 2012, when a gunman killed the mother of the pastor and attempted to shoot others.. A member of the church, an off-duty police officer, ended the attack by shooting the attacker.
And there’s the Boiling Springs, South Carolina, Freewill Baptist Church incident on September 9, 2012 where a congregant who was carrying concealed stopped a would-be shooter in what observers said would likely have turned into a mass killing.
How many more incidents such as these are needed to persuade anti-gunners that their attempts to infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens are misguided at best, and deliberately destructive, at worst? Politicians in California aren’t willing to let history, facts, or victims’ experiences change their ideology. To them the Second Amendment apparently is irrelevant, and the mere presence of guns somehow presents a threat to the community. Thanks to that ideology, the new California law reduces further any chance that a shooter could be neutralized before inflicting grievous damage during a future rampage.