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  • 300shooter

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    Mar 6, 2008
    "Gun-Free Zones" Mean: No Guns--Except for Criminals

    by William Atwell

    The latest violent offenses on college campuses leave many people wondering what could have been done beforehand to stop these massacres. There has been extensive legislation enacted in the US with prescribed declarations of intent to stop easy access to weapons. Have these laws created a safer society? Considering the murder rate was much lower in the 1950's with virtually no school shootings, and when there were few if any restrictions on the purchasing of guns, we can see that these laws do not deter violent criminals. Some gun legislation is appropriate and necessary, but the very nature of being a criminal designates that they will not obey the law in purchasing a firearm, or using a firearm; that's why they're criminals. The law confines law-abiding citizens. It's the criminal that will purchase guns illegally, carry them illegally, and use them illegally. There is no way to enforce gun laws until after a crime has been committed and people are dead.

    With this problem in mind, what has our vast amount of legislation done to deter criminals from committing bloody massacres on college and university campuses? Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Omaha mall, Kirkwood City Council, and other places have been designated as "gun-free zones," and yet did nothing to stop dozens of murders. Why is that, you ask? Maybe it's because law-abiding citizens with state-issued Concealed Carry Permits (CCW) weren't allowed to bring their handguns on campus. Instead they obeyed the law while the shooters clearly weren't concerned with the law. Is it a surprise that a sign saying "Gun-Free Zone" didn't change the course of action of a deranged, psychopathic criminal?

    People who want a CCW must be 21 years of age and lack mental or physical infirmity which would prevent the safe handling of a firearm. They must also take the necessary firearm and legal training course, and must allow the Sheriff's department to run a background check which requires verifying valid US and state citizenship, clean felony and domestic violence record, and other restrictions. After meeting all of these requirements, they are issued a CCW and may carry a firearm in virtually all places in society, but these qualified individuals have their right to bear arms suspended once they step on campus.

    Regardless of your opinion on guns, it should not settle very comfortably in your stomach for any right of a US citizen to be suspended for virtually no reason. The government doesn't suspend our right to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, or freedom to petition the government in any particular location on a permanent basis. Federal law exempts citizens who carry a CCW in school gun-free zones, so why does North Carolina state law exhibit this prohibition? How is a college or university campus different than the mall, street, parking lot, office building, or church? If a student is qualified enough to carry a concealed weapon for self-protection in virtually all other places, they should be granted the same freedom on campus.

    If just one student from Virginia Tech possessed a firearm on the day of the massacre other than the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, many lives could have been saved. Is the state really concerned that licensed CCW holders are going to commit the heinous crime of mass murder? CCW holders have been statistically proven to be five-times less likely to commit a violent crime than a non-CCW holder. Law makers know that all the measures taken to unarm people like Cho have obviously failed, and yet CCW carriers are still being restricted from protecting themselves. I do not stand against the felony restriction, the mental and physical incapacity restriction, or other similar restrictions, but good, honest, law abiding citizens are being put in harms way, without just cause.

    As a state, we need to stand up for our rights, and ensure the protection of our students. The administration and police department could not act fast enough to save 32 lives at Virginia Tech, or 5 lives at Northern Illinois University. The victim is the first line of defense in the event of a tragedy. The Second Amendment ensures that people can effectively defend themselves, rather than rely solely on things like prayer and cell phones. Both are good backups, but not good supplements. Qualified citizens deserve the right to self-defense. This is especially the case when the government is unable to ensure reasonable levels of protection against criminals, who care nothing about "gun-free zones."

    William G. Atwell
    East Carolina University
    Student of Political Science and Philosophy
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