‘A shooting threat and BYU’s campus gun ban’: Reader’s response

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The following submissions are in response to the July 15 article in The Universe’s print edition under the headline “A shooting threat and BYU’s campus gun ban.”

The Universe’s front-page article opens a needed discussion on BYU’s campus gun ban. As this discussion goes forward, here are some well-attested facts to consider:
• Gun bans attract spree killers. In their own words, notoriety-seeking killers want to kill as many people as possible. This is one reason why so many mass shootings occur at “gun-free” public schools, theaters and universities. While crime and school shootings overall have occurred for decades, an unsurprising exception has been a rise in spree shootings in “gun-free zones.”
• While police response times are often tragically slow, allowing shooters to continue to kill, bystander response time can be virtually instantaneous, if they are armed.
• We also know that police shoot the wrong person about 30 percent of the time and civilians do so less than 5 percent of the time. Actually the police mistake rate is surprisingly low, since as BYU Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon points out, late-arriving officers often cannot tell who the bad guys are. Citizens on the scene from the beginning already know.
• All other major Utah universities and even, unusually, public schools allow citizens with concealed carry permits on campus, and Utah’s campus gun crime rate is among the lowest in the nation.
• Over the past several decades, concealed carry laws have proliferated and crime has gone down.
• There is no evidence, none, that permissive concealed carry policies lead to an increase in crime or accidental shootings.
• Lt. Lemmon’s views are unusual for a police officer. Most police want armed citizens as allies. Even liberal Detroit’s Chief James Craig said, “If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them.”
For the safety of everyone at BYU, I hope the campus gun ban is reconsidered soon. Right now BYU is the most inviting target in Utah for the next spree killer.

Eric Eliason
BYU English professor

The “article” was one-sided and filled with conjecture and opinion. I appreciate the information about the videos on the police website, but I don’t understand how the videos “secure campus.” The videos teach the viewer to fight back when necessary. Hard to do successfully against an armed attacker when you’re unarmed! The article states, “Guns do not even the playing field between civilians and gunmen.” What an absurd statement! Why do the police carry guns then?
The police might shoot the innocent citizen by mistake? The shooting is usually over by the time the police arrive! I would rather be able to defend myself in the moment than depend on someone who’s minutes away when seconds count. The Supreme Court, in Warren vs. The District of Columbia, ruled the police have no duty to protect citizens. They make arrests after a crime has been committed. We must be responsible for our own security.
The rest of the article is quotes from students voicing their insecurities about guns. But one person’s fears aren’t sufficient reason to infringe another’s rights. Innocent lives are saved weekly by private gun owners. For factual statistics, visit: http://www.gunfacts.info. I would’ve expected a journalist to do this before writing this article. Our Constitution guarantees every individual the right to defend oneself. It’s been repeatedly upheld by the Court. When will BYU, who holds our Constitution to be divinely inspired, allow us to exercise the rights it guarantees? BYU isn’t constitutionally required to allow weapons on campus, but actions speak louder than words; banning guns from those with the right to carry is a very loud action.

Trevor O’Donnal
Springville

By choosing to write about a controversial topic, I would hope that the writer would either report on both sides of the issue or attempt a logical defense of the side they chose to promote. This was not the case.
The article in question made some of the same egregious errors that I’ve seen commonly in articles against concealed carry rights. They are as follows:
1. Ignore statistical data
2. Rely on emotional appeal
3. Only quote people who agree with your viewpoint.
4. Ignore counterarguments
The overall conclusion of the article was that allowing CCW holders to carry on campus would have no chance of helping in an active shooter situation, put more people at risk and decrease law enforcement’s ability to respond. This conclusion is based on a “what makes sense to me” argument and a few quotes from individuals who agreed. There is no evidence, statistical, anecdotal or otherwise that any of the arguments were valid.
It should be noted that the only reason BYU’s gun policy is even legal is because we are a private university. Other universities in Utah are required by law to allow authorized concealed carry of weapons, and in the past 10 years there have been zero incidents caused by that law.

Jarom Jackson
Mapleton, Utah