Earlier this week, the Wyoming House of Representative approved two bills that would allow holders of concealed carry permits to carry guns on college campuses (HB 136) and at governmental meetings (HB 137). On February 15, 2017, the State Senate judiciary committee approved them also. They will now go before the whole State Senate for a vote.
HB 136 provides that concealed carry permit holders may carry ‘on any public college or university campus… including for any athletic event, without the written consent of the security service of the college or university.’ HB 137 provides for concealed carry at ‘any meeting of a governmental entity on public property… [and] any meeting of the legislature or a committee thereof on public property.'”
Whether these bills are a good idea depends in part on how dangerous concealed carry permit holders are.
According to a study of Texas and Florida permit holders, however, concealed carry holders are the most law-abiding demographic group in the country. Concealed carry holders commit crimes at a much lower rate than police officers and police officers are more law abiding than average citizens.
But would allowing concealed carry at a UW football game make the place safer or more dangerous?
Nationwide, while the number of new firearms and concealed carry permits both doubled during the Obama years, the homicide rate fell steadily through 2014, then rose in 2015 and 2016, largely as a result of cities like Chicago, where there were 726 murders in 2016. In April 2016 in Chicago, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd on a public street, an Uber taxi driver who had a valid concealed carry permit shot the active shooter. No lives were lost in that incident.
If the government chooses to create a gun free zone, the government should have an obligation to ensure that adequate security is provided in that zone. In a courtroom during a trial, the only persons in the room who should have a gun are the deputy sheriff (or U.S marshal) and perhaps the judge. A criminal defendant facing a potential life sentence sitting next to defense counsel who is packing heat is a genuine risk. Defense counsel’s concealed carry permit would offer no protection because it’s not the defense lawyer who is the risk.
It is irresponsible for the government, however, to declare a gun free zone and then provide no or inadequate security for the venue.
As it is not practicable for the government to provide a deputy sheriff or U.S. marshal in every college corridor, the proposed legislation allowing concealed carry on campus or at city council meetings seems unlikely to cause more homicides.
What do you think?
© 2017 Clark Stith
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