Student Gun Laws — and Liberal Critics
5:11 PM, Mar 2, 2011 • By DANIEL GELERNTER
The Texas legislature is likely to approve a measure that would allow students with pistol permits to carry guns on college campus. Although the proposed law would do nothing to change the requirements for getting a permit—one would still have to be over 21, have no criminal record, no record of mental illness, etc.—critics are outraged.
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times admits that gun advocates may be right that an armed student could have stopped the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, “but they're ignoring the other risks posed by gun proliferation.” What risks are those? According to the Times, if students returned fire during a school shooting, it would “create confusion” when the police arrive. But the police don’t arrive – at least, not in time to do any good. That’s why college shootings usually end either when courageous but unarmed students tackle the shooter or, more often, when the shooter decides he’s had enough and kills himself.
A Texas student interviewed by Fox News echoed the Times’s sentiment: “I think we have police on campus, and that’s their job.”
But it isn’t their job. Police don’t stop crimes in progress, they bring criminals to justice afterwards. Legal precedent confirms this – viz. Warren v. District of Columbia. In 1975, three women where held captive, raped and beaten for fourteen hours. The police were called repeatedly but never showed up. One of the women subsequently sued the D.C. police for its failure to respond. The D.C. Superior Court, in a decision upheld by the D.C. Court of Appeals, ruled in favor of the police because the government is “under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”
If the police won’t protect you, who will? The Los Angeles Times’s answer is, apparently, no one. Because, even if armed students could stop a shooter, the Times doesn’t trust students to be armed: “College students, many of whom are coming to terms with the pressures of romantic entanglements and academic expectations, also tend to abuse alcohol and drugs...”
The student interviewed on Fox News had the same response: “I don’t know if I’d trust the average person to pull out their gun and hopefully shoot the right one….That’s a lot of trust to give to just anybody.”
It takes a lot of trust. It warrants great responsibility. And liberals don’t think that trust is something you give to just anybody. The question of guns on campus reflects the fundamental dispute between right and left: Liberalism is a philosophy of rights, conservatism of duties.
If one accepts his responsibility to protect himself and others, he should have a right to carry a gun. If he uses that gun, he should be responsible for his actions. It would be easier to hope for someone else’s protection. But the easy way – the liberal way – leaves students defenseless.