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Monday, October 2, 2023

Guest Commentary

Guest column: Pichowsky misses the mark on campus carry

In the Oct. 21 edition of The Cougar, opinion columnist Samuel Pichowsky argues that “campus carry does not make this school safer.” The piece is full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and it misrepresents concealed carry on campus.

In his article, Mr. Pichowsky highlights the experience of John Parker Jr., an Umpqua Community College student who was carrying a concealed weapon at the time of the Oct. 1 mass shooting. Despite his presence, the shooter was able to flee the scene before law enforcement could track down and neutralize him. Pichowsky argues that the actions of Parker dispel the myth of a “good guy with a gun” being able to stop a bad guy with a gun; even though there was a licensed concealed weapon carrier present, the murderer was able to go about his rampage undeterred. Thus, concealed carry on campus does not make us safer. Or so the logic goes.

Alas, anecdotes are not data and exceptions do not disprove the rule. The fact is that “good guys with guns” prevent thousands of crimes every single day. Drs. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, criminologists at Florida State, show that firearms are used in self defense as many as 2.5 million times every single year. Even conservative estimates put the number at well over a million.

Pichowsky also seems to misunderstand the purpose of a concealed handgun license. No one is saying that Parker should have tried to track down and stop the shooter on his own. Concealed carry is not about turning every CHL holder into a vigilante, it is about giving individuals the ability to protect themselves in those situations where they are unable to flee. One wonders how things may have been different had Chris Mintz (an Army veteran who was injured while attempting to save his fellow students at the shooting) been carrying a concealed handgun.

Pichowsky’s second argument is based solely on his own subjective sense of safety. He writes: “Campus carry does not make me or any other student I talk to feel safer on campus.” Unfortunately, in the world of objective reality, whether or not one feels safe is completely irrelevant to whether or not one is actually safe. Choosing whether to carry a gun or not does not affect one’s risk of being victimized; it only affects one’s ability to fight back.

Pichowsky closes by offering some advice. First, “do not bring your weapon” to school. Second, if you should ever find yourself in an active shooter situation “call the police and get to safety.” If only it were that easy. I wonder if the 18 students at Umpqua had tried to “call the police,” or the 19 students at UC Santa Barbara, or the 54 at Virginia Tech…as the saying goes “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

You can choose to follow Pichowsky’s advice, but as for me, when the law goes into effect next fall, I will legally carry my weapon on campus to protect myself, my students and my colleagues.

Jacob Smith is a fifth-year PhD Candidate in Economics at the University of Houston and a Concealed Handgun License holder and can be reached through email at [email protected]

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