Throwback: “Campus Carry: Conundrum For Cops”

Active Shooter Exercise

Active Shooter Exercise (Photo credit: North Carolina National Guard)

The renewed lunacy discussion about campus carry in Texas brought to mind this little ditty from nearly two years ago. I was heaped with praise from friends and readers in law enforcement and lambasted as an idiot from others. This is a serious issue that requires serious discussion, not knee-jerk ‘Murica bravado.

Check out this throwback:

Republicans in the Texas Legislature and legislative bodies throughout the country are aggressively pursuing so-called “campus carry”. Even vaunted institutions of reasonable gun policy like “Ammoland”  are calling for campus carry to be added to the call for special session of the Texas Legislature. Some backers of campus carry see it from an egocentric perspective: “If there was a shooter I would get my Jason Bourne on, whip out my 9 with laser sights and hollow points, and save the day”. (Yeah, right.)  Some see it as some homage to the 2nd Amendment (which has absolutely zero to do with this issue). And, others seem to think it makes them more of a man or more of a patriot to back all things that equal more guns, also known as ‘Merica.

The  arguments against campus carry center on the alcohol-fueled culture of college, the volatility of relationships and emotions among young people, the general irresponsibility of college kids, and what it says about our values if we think the best way to secure college campuses is a bunch of 21 year-old kids with zero law enforcement training. But, the only perspective that should matter in this debate is that of law enforcement who would be the first on the scene in what they refer to as an “active shooter” situation.

Regardless of your perceptions on guns, background checks, assault weapons, or the 2nd amendment, consider yourself as a first responder arriving on a campus where there is a report of a person with a gun. You arrive on the scene…adrenaline pumping. You draw your weapon…scanning your field of vision for a person with a gun. Without campus carry, your job is fairly direct: find guy with gun, shoot guy with gun. Under campus carry your job is made extraordinarily more difficult. Rather than finding the guy with the gun, you must now find the bad guy with the gun. Everyone you see with a gun is potentially a bad guy. You will not be able to take immediate action because you will be forced to stop, disarm, detain, and evaluate every person you see with a gun to determine if they, in fact, are the bad guy.

While precious moments tick past as you cuff and frisk Clint the custodian and Gloria grad assistant, how many shots can the bad guy get off? Adam Lanza killed 20 six and seven year-old babies by firing 1 bullet every 2 seconds in Sandy Hook. So while you disarm World Lit teachers and frat rats, a mad man and his high capacity magazine are free to unleash carnage and death on coeds at the terrorizing rate of 1 bullet every 2 seconds. Say you actually see one person shoot another, is the apparent assailant actually the vigilante saving the day? You cannot know.  In a moment where a first responder needs to  have a degree of certainty about the scene he or she is witnessing,  there is none.

Campus carry is a misguided policy, a solution in search of a problem and a political gimmick for the ‘Merica crowd.  It multiplies the chaos of an active shooter crisis by many times, it takes away the ability of first responders to take quick and decisive action, and it is a poor substitute for Texas being unwilling to have sensible gun laws and adequate campus security. As a general rule, guns on college campuses in Texas is not an issue.

This proposal is a cheap, unnecessary political stunt. Of all the bad policy enacted by Perry & Friends, this might well be the worst (should it be added to the call)…and that is saying something.



Filed under Gun Control, Texas Polticis

14 responses to “Throwback: “Campus Carry: Conundrum For Cops”

  1. Out of curiosity, what law enforcement background/training do you have? And are you a CHL holder?

    • Hey, John. Thanks for reading and commenting. I am a gun owner, not a CHL holder. I have exactly the same amount of law enforcement training as 99% of the politicians advocating this policy: none. I have worked extensively with the Border Sheriff’s Coalition and various elected and appointed law enforcement officials. As a staffer and Chief of Staff at the Texas Capitol and on Capitol Hill, I have broad experience in 20 years of public policy proposals related to guns, gun control, and law enforcement.

      Thanks again.

  2. As a general class of people, those with a CCH are some of the most law abiding citizens you will find. As a class of people they do sometimes get arrested for firearms violations, but no more so – as a percentage – than do sworn law enforcement officers.

    When concealed carry was first debated in Texas, and other states, those against it painted vivid scenes of people in minor car accidents shooting it out , etc. But the fact is Texas (and many states) now have concealed carry and none of the scary scenarios have materialized.

    Given the record of people actually practicing concealed carry, please stop the scary scenarios and stop trying to paint college students as total drunkards and reckless kids. A lot of them grew up, especially in Texas, with some training in gun safety.

    Come into the 21st century where citizens carrying concealed handguns to protect themselves and others is becoming a reality in large parts of the country.


    • From my perspective this isn’t a debate about CHL. I also do not believe that sworn law enforcement officers have a propensity for being arrested for firearms violations. Perhaps you have some statistics you could share.

      Beyond that, the only scary scenario I have discussed here is one that has been a reality very recently: police called to respond to an active shooter on a college campus. And, I’m not sure when the last time you were in college or visited a college campus, but alcohol is a part of the culture. Furthermore, by very definition kids should be considered reckless.

      It would appear to me that your side (pro-gun, pro-campus carry) has the monopoly on spinning scary scenarios about 18 year-old cheerleaders needing to be strapped in history class in case they need to double-tap a lunatic on a shooting spree. Bad news for you: if each side calls a truce on spinning scary scenarios, your side loses this debate.

      Finally, I grew up with guns and I own guns. I learned a lot about gun safety. We train first responders in how to identify targets, neutralize targets, and manage crises. Unless the kid’s father was Eugene Tackleberry I venture that their “some training” is far from what any reasonable person would want from someone firing a weapon with deadly intent in a crowded environment.

      • Kathy

        As a woman, this comment actually offends me. You have no idea what it’s like to be a 115lb. girl walking around on a dark campus by yourself with no means of protection. Not to mention how offensive it is for you to assume all 21 (not 18) year old college kids are irresponsible drunkards. CHL holders are responsible and understand what it means to carry and pull a gun- neither of which would happen recklessly or while drunk… or ‘into a crowded environment with deadly intent’ as you put it.

        If you are saying that this debate is not about CHL’s, and it is about campus carry in particular, then your last point is irrelevant here. That could only be applicable if you are arguing against CHL’s in general.

      • “I also do not believe that sworn law enforcement officers have a propensity for being arrested for firearms violations.”

        Exactly my point. Neither sworn police officers or people with concealed carry licenses are very prone to get arrested for firearms violations. Some do – both police and CCH holders – but not very many. I have seen stats on that, but will have to find them again as don’t have that at my fingertips tonight.

        “Furthermore, by very definition kids should be considered reckless.”

        Personally I don’t consider college students to be kids. They are adults and should be treated as adults.

        “Bad news for you: if each side calls a truce on spinning scary scenarios, your side loses this debate.”

        The scary scenarios of those against CCH are theory. When CCH was initially debated in Texas we heard the scenario of a traffic incident turning into a “road rage” shooting. It didn’t happen. Sounded plausible to some I suppose, but the fact is that it didn’t happen.

        On the other hand the scary scenario of people being attacked, raped, etc. is police statistics, not theory.


  3. PerryM

    This article presents CC as a response to securing our campuses, when in reality, it is an issue of personal protection. It’s less about “saving the day” and more about saving one’s own life. Proponents of CC on campus do not advocate it as a way to protect campuses, with “deputized” students roaming around with guns, ready to fend off bad guys, but as a way to allow law-abiding citizens of legal age to protect themselves on campus in the same way they are legally permitted off campus. Imagine a young woman walking home across a dark campus at night from her astronomy class. If she is a CHL holder, should she not be able to carry her gun on campus in the same way she is permitted off campus? If she is a CHL holder in Texas, then she knows that she cannot have access to a gun with any level of intoxication. She knows her responsibility is to herself, not to enter into a stand-off with a gunman. And don’t tell me that she is too emotionally volatile–it’s incredibly condescending (unless of course you advocate a legal driving or voting or enlisting age of 27). Bottom line… CC has never turned anywhere into the wild west, including on campus. This is not an issue of securing campuses, but of personal protection. Personally, I would choose not to carry on campus, but I would support those who choose to do so legally and responsibly.

    • Thanks for the comments, Perry.

      You make several interesting points.

      I assure you, neither did I invent perceptions about confusion, nor the atmosphere on college campuses, nor the intent of a large segment of the bill’s backers.

      A quote from one of the hearings:

      Austin Police Assistant Chief Troy Gay said his department wouldn’t support letting students carry guns around campus. “We feel that it would just add more to the confusion,” he said. “There’s immaturity and there’s things that take place in these locations where our emotions sometimes might get the best of us.”

      In his own letter, this one to Gov. Rick Perry in March, System chancellor Francisco Cigarroa voiced his opposition.

      “I believe that, on balance,” Cigarroa wrote, “the permitted presence of concealed weapons will contribute to a less-safe campus environment.”

      Finally, do you perceive “personal protection” to be: I see a gunman shooting kids. I will draw my weapon, but only take action if he threatens me personally? That seems an absurd premise. I understand supporters want to present this as a personal protection issue, but that is both an overly broad term and one that is misapplied. Nearly every advocate I have read quotes from talks about this as a means to take offensive action, not defensive action. If this were first and foremost about protection we would be giving bulletproof vests to everyone.

      • PerryM

        I know you didn’t invent perceptions about confusion during an active shooter situation or the immaturity of college students. Those arguments are simply misleading because they misconstrue the probable actions of CHL holders. Also, a “large segment” of the bill’s backers cannot support campus carry for offensive action because CHL law explicitly states that it is for defensive action only, and campus carry backers support the application of current CHL law to campuses.

        And to answer your question, NO, I do not think that a CHL holder who sees “a gunman shooting kids” should “draw his or her weapon, but only take action of threatened personally.” Actually, a CHL holder who witnesses such a horrific scene should, 99% of the time, not draw his or her weapon at all. That could indeed make things confusing for any police who arrive on scene. Unless a CHL holder is within 3-4 yards of a shooter, and knows for a fact that there is nothing beyond the shooter, then the gun should stay holstered. And if a gun is removed from its holster, it is only to fire a shot, not to begin a standoff. The likelihood that a CHL holder will act in an active shooter situation is next to zero. No guns drawn at all. CHL holders know this. It is taught repeatedly in any CHL or self defense class, which are required of CHL holders every five years. But the likelihood that a CHL holder will be able to save his or her own life when threatened personally is much higher. This is not a means to take offensive action, but instead a tool for last ditch personal protection. CHL is explicitly, by law, for defensive action.

      • Personally, I would be shocked if a CHL holder saw a violent act–especially innocent kids being shot–and sit passively by. One must acknowledge that even in defense of one’s person that not every shot hits its intended target. Furthermore, the point of my blog is that even if one is taking action to defend one’s person, a responding officer doesn’t know instinctively who is the assailant and who is the victim. They only know what they see: one guy shooting another. And, unlike a CHL holder, an officer is obliged to draw his weapon and neutralize the threat with whatever force he or she deems necessary.

        Obviously you have a very sound understanding of the purpose of the CHL and what behavior or action should take place. Your comments sound as though you have spent a lot of time considering the weight of the CHL and when action is appropriate. I do not have the same expectation that most 21 year-old kids with a few hours of CHL training have your maturity and perspective…especially in an active shooter scenario.

        Google the phrase “police lost handgun” and read some of the results. These are trained professionals of which there are very few, in the grand scheme, and yet they sometimes lose guns. Again, I lack the confidence that 21 year-old kids with cursory training will have the ritual and attention necessary to faithfully keep track of a handgun.

        Interesting note: In the Fall of 2012, the UT-Austin campus alone had over 52,000 students. Forget the faculty and staff, if we only assume that half of the the student body was of age and obtained CHLs at the same rate as the rest of the population (2.2% in 2012), there would be more CHL holders on the campus in Austin (572) than the entire UT system has commissioned officers statewide (474).

        Finally, I have yet to see any evidence that campus violence is so pervasive as to be a problem in need of such an extreme solution.

        I appreciate your thoughts. I hope all CHL holders have as good a perspective on safety as you do.

  4. David

    As CHL holder who attends college here in Texas, if I walked onto campus with my weapon and saw someone go on a shooting spree I would immediately pull my weapon and try to either disarm or take out the shooter. I understand that is what campus police are there for but, when time is critical and every second counts in saving lives sometimes you need to react instead of sitting around and waiting to see if you are the next one they point their gun at. Besides when the police do get to the scene and they yell freeze or whatever those who are not the suspect would immediately stop and drop their weapons obeying the law. Whereas the suspect will either keep shooting or already be down from someone else.

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