Friday, March 11, 2011

Idaho H0222

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus have been pushing ever since the Virginia Tech Massacre for states to repeal the bans that prohibit concealed weapon permit holders from carrying on campus.  I support that change--although I would be the first to say that the motivation--so that students are not sitting ducks for the next mentally ill mass murderer--is not the optimal solution.

The correct solution is to fix the broken mental health system in the United States.  The fact is that in most states, about 3-5% of the population has a carry permit, and on a college campus, it is going to be far lower.  The combination of a population that is generally too young to get a permit (under 21), and raging Political Correctness among both students and faculty, means that very, very few members of the college community are going to be armed.  If they are, and another tragedy like Virginia Tech happens, good--at least there is a small possibility that someone is going to be able stop this before the body count gets too high.  But fixing the core problem of the mentally ill being ignored until they kill someone is a more effective solution.  Of course, that would solve too many other serious problems, so we can't do that.

Still, for the very tiny number of students, faculty, and staff who might take advantage of the opportunity to carry concealed, this is an improvement.  There are students, faculty, and staff who have security problems, often with stalkers, spouses, ex-spouses, or soon-to-be ex-spouses, where being armed is a darn good idea.  Idaho is a remarkably safe place to go to college.  It is so safe that I can't imagine carrying a gun on campus for any reason except the scary but really, very rare mentally ill mass murder scenario.  There are women instructors who are understandably nervous about being the last person out of the building after a night class--and I cannot say that they are being particularly unreasonable.

If the bill H0222 now before the Idaho House only extended statewide pre-emption concerning concealed carry to public colleges and universities, I would be completely happy with it.  But it doesn't.  It pre-empts any policies or rules concerning both concealed carry by permit holders, and open carry.

Remember that Idaho is an open carry state.  If you can legally possess a firearm, you can carry it openly just about anywhere you go.  Primary and secondary schools are prohibited (except if you leave the gun in the car when you go to the parking lot for pickup or dropoff); courthouses are prohibited; jails and prisons (of course).  You will get some serious discomfort if you insist on open carry in cities.  If you have a really good reason, of course, but I still think it is bad taste to do it "just because."  Get a concealed carry permit, and don't frighten the nervous nellies, of which we have many.

Oh yes: don't frighten the college professors, or the students.  From reading the comments on this March 10, 2011 Idaho Statesman article, it appears that if H0222 passes, and anyone starts carrying openly, it is going to cause faculty to look for new jobs, shortly after looking for a change of underwear.  (What Snowflakes in Hell calls PSH.  And no, I will not tell you what that crude by accurate acronym means.)  And you know what?  I really don't see any particularly good reason for you to show up on campus carrying openly.  If a madman on a mass murder spree shows up on campus, guess who he is going to shoot first?  The only person who is obviously an obstacle to setting a new world record for innocents slaughtered in a single session is going to be the first target.  I prefer taking all the unfair advantage that I can under such circumstances.

Even here in Idaho, college instructors tend to be a pretty liberal, and come up with all sorts of reasons to freak out about this.  I hope HB 222 is amended to leave a prohibition on open carry on campus in place.  "Out of sight, out of mind" applies to guns, too.


  1. I can't support an open carry ban amendment, but I encourage concealed carry for the same reasons you do. I would prefer any professors with PSH tendencies be relocated out of state. I hold the same sentiment toward the Boise chief and his Lieutenant that are pushing the tired Brady/Joyce "campus carry = blood in the streets" nonsense. That type of policeman has no place in Idaho and should be ushered out with the swiftness.

  2. Open Carry has the advantage over concealed carry of making it obvious to evildoers that some of their potential victims are capable of armed response. Cramer's spin on this is that this makes open-carriers the first targets of evildoers. However, by thus acting as a magnet for criminals' first strikes, open-carriers give everyone else more chance to escape, take cover, call the cops, or draw any concealed handguns they may have. At least the first strikes will be against those able to shoot back.

    If knowledge of armed citizens has any deterrent effect on crime, then that effect will be stronger when it is most readily apparent that the citizenry is armed. Open carry makes an armed citizenry obvious to even the most stupid criminals; concealed carry relies upon criminals having abstract knowledge of the possibility that their victims might be armed, not what they can see with their own eyes.

    If open carry meant painting a target on your own back for criminals, then cops and security guards would never open carry. If open carry were not a better deterrent than concealed carry, then all cops and security guards would carry concealed and operate in plain clothes, not in uniform.

    Open carry means that gun owners can come out of the closet, just like homosexuals have been doing for decades now. It's no surprise that social conservatives like Cramer want both gays and gun owners to stay in the closet.

  3. 'I still think it is bad taste to do it "just because."'

    Folks will be less nervous about it when they are acclimatized to it. Seeing young men openly carry pistols doesn't bother anyone when they also have a badge. People have a right to bear arms, and they do valuable service when they openly carry "just because".

  4. There is NO ban on open carry in Idaho right now on college campauses - at least as a matter of criminal law. Let's not invent more gun control!

  5. Cramer is being misleading re "I hope HB 222 is amended to leave a prohibition on open carry on campus in place" - In FACT, there is no rule against open carry on Idaho college camapuses right now under Idaho state criminal law. sure, there might be campus rules, but they as a practical matter only apply to students and employees who can be expelled/fired.

  6. The only prohibition on open carry on campus is that students can be expelled and faculty can be fired. You are correct that there is no criminal sanction in the law, and I am not suggesting that it should be added.

  7. The reason that we accept police officers carrying openly is because the uniform establishes that there has been a background check, and therefore this person is most unlikely to be crazy or irresponsible. Police officers seldom carry openly when out of uniform for this very reason.

  8. I think the renormalization of guns, most certainly through means including the Open Carry movement, will have to go a long way before college campuses are a good venue. Heck, let's get more than a handful of mostly unusual states to allow concealed carry on them by >= 21 year olds first so as to get past the "blood in the hallways!" canard.

  9. One reason to leave open carry legal is that if someone is carrying concealed and it is accidentally made visible I would not want that person to be in trouble. That is one good thing about open carry even if you never intend to carry open.

    I agree about advising people against it.

  10. Cops are far more likely to kill you or sexually assault you than the average person. Their being in uniform not only means they've gone through some sort of "background check," but that they're also indemnified legally against liability for any harm they cause on the job.

    Also, it is highly unlikely that cops will ever be criminally convicted for shooting anyone dead on the job. The conviction of Johannes Meserle was the first in decades in CA; the cops who killed Mr. Scott in Las Vegas for the "crime" of open-carrying at a Costco are unlikely to be tried for murdering him, much less get convicted if they ever make it to trial.

  11. Tony, I agree that leaving open carry legal is a good idea, at least in most public places. I'm not even necessarily opposed to it in a campus setting, except for the negative reaction it is likely to provoke in a population that is already a little wacky on the subject of guns.

    Tim, you have made a rather astonishing claim that requires some evidence. I know of police officers who have used their position of authority to commit serious crimes. A attorney I know (now passed on) specialized in helping rape victims who were raped by on-duty cops, so I know that it does happen. But to assert that police are more likely than the average person is an astonishing claim that requires some serious evidence. Remember that people who commit violent felonies tend to be profoundly antisocial sorts with a host of other severe problems--something that is not generally the case for police officers.

  12. Clayton - I'd expect Tim's claim about killing to be correct. I would be much more skeptical of a claim that a policeman is much more likely to *murder* someone than a civilian, but the police do kill a lot of people each year. In Texas terms, many of those people "needed killin'". And a lot of the rest of them were police-assisted suicide.

    I'm not sure that Mesehrle was actually guilty of anything worse than manslaughter, but the BART police are also probably the worst in the Bay Area - there have been a number of really borderline cases involving the BART PD over the years, which isn't true of most other Bay Area police agencies. Much more common are cases like the recent one in Oakland where a man fled from the police, then reached into his waistband. He was likely innocent, but acted with terminal stupidity.

  13. The last time that I checked the justifiable homicide stats, police killed roughly twice as many people as civilians each year. For both civilians and police, the justifiable homicide stats are generally substantially underreported. Still, we're talking about roughly 1000-1200 police justifiable homicides a year.

    I can believe that some of these are really murders that were covered up by police or prosecutors, or at least mistakes such as the one that you describe. But it is quite a stretch to argue a large fraction of these justifiable homicides were murders or even negligent. There are a lot of bad guys out there that police kill, and a lot of suicide by cop incidents.