The Incremental Approach to Concealed Carry

On Friday, Malkin’s fill-in blogger, see-dubya, reminded us about Oklahoma’s House bill 2513 that allows for some changes to the state’s firearm laws. Last Thursday, the NRA-ILA reported that an amended version of the bill, authored by Jason Murphey, Republican state representative from the 31st District, will allow for military veterans who possess a valid concealed carry permit to lawfully carry a concealed handgun on Oklahoma’s public college and university campuses.

This incremental approach to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons may be considered a win for supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but remember that rights that are given by the government can easily be taken away.

Let’s review the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment and Oklahoma’s Constitution (Section II-26).

Amendment 2
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Section II-26: Bearing Arms – Carrying Weapons
The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.

Although the legislature does regulate the carrying of weapons, Oklahoma is a “shall-issue” state. Applicants with no criminal or mental disqualifiers – and 21 or older – must be issued a license to carry a concealed handgun after taking a firearms safety and training course. As a matter of fact, Oklahoma honors the rights of non-residents to carry concealed if they have a permit from their home state.

So if one is legally able to carry on the street, while driving to work, or shopping at the local mall, why is Oklahoma limiting the rights of people to protect themselves while at state colleges? Some may argue that the college campus is an alternate universe, but Virginia Tech and more recently Northern Illinois University (NIU) shows hazards exist equally at shopping malls and on campus.

The state restricting concealed carry on campus – or private businesses not allowing carry at work – is simply feel-good pandering. Gun-free zones and safe-work environments do nothing to reduce campus or workplace violence, and may actually provide more opportunities for law-breakers to destroy the lives of students and families.

If you are truly concerned about campus and work-place safety, I encourage you to ask these two questions of school administrators and workplace leadership.

First: What are you doing to prevent someone from coming in with a firearm and shooting people in our office or in our school?

The answer should knock you into reality. Unless TSA-type security is implemented at all entries to the campus or office, the answer most likely will be nothing.

Of course the NIU Student Code of Conduct specifically bars dangerous weapons and lets everyone know that all member of the community are entitled to be safe. NIU is basically a gun-free zone.

All members of the university community are entitled to freedom from suffering deliberate hurt, injury, or loss. Access to the university must be available to all in a nonhostile and nonthreatening atmosphere. … Possession, use, sale, or distribution in any residence hall, building, or grounds under university control of: fireworks, firearms, shotguns, rifles, hand guns, switchblade knives, any type of ammunition, explosives, and all other serious weapons [is barred]. … At no time will any of the above dangerous weapons be allowed in the university residence halls.

Many human resource guides promote a safe work environment where weapons are not allowed. But again, how difficult would it be for a co-worker, contractor or even someone else to walk into your building with a weapon? Take a moment to think about that.

Security guards may be at the front desk, key cards may be required for building access and some schools have a police presence on site. But will that protect you? Not likely. When seconds count, the police will arrive in minutes.

So again, the answer – in most situations – is that school and business leaders are doing nothing to prevent someone from coming in with a firearm and shooting people.

Second: What should we do if a shooter comes into our classroom? Onto our floor in the office? Into the atrium of the building?

If the leaders at work or at school muster up the courage to answer the question, they tell us to move to a secure place in the building, get out of the way, don’t attract attention to yourself and don’t make eye contact with the shooter. In other words, you’re on your own.

I recently found a WikiHow discussing how to survive a school or workplace shooting. One paragraph suggests the following.

If you are in the same area as the shooter, find cover, fast. If the shooter opens fire, attempt to take cover behind heavy furniture or any other heavy obstacle. If there is nothing close, simply drop to the floor and lie flat. This will protect your vital organs and make you a smaller target to the shooter. Lying flat could also make the shooter mistake you for dead. Remain quiet and still, but if the shooter is about to shoot you, do anything you can to stop them.

Unless we want to have TSA-type security everywhere – which does not have a very good track record anyway – it’s time to rethink concealed carry laws. We need to provide law-abiding citizens who are properly trained the ability to protect themselves; not just at home or the mall, but at school and work too.