Opinion: Colo. students shun gun dorm

December 6, 2012


Young people are not exactly renowned for their judgment.

We are, after all, talking about an age group that has to be told it is a bad idea to text while doing 70. Or drink alcohol till it spews from your nostrils. Or wear a T-shirt and flip-flops to interview for the office job.

So no, judgment is not their forte. Yet even they have enough sense to steer clear of the gun dorm.

You haven’t heard about the gun dorm? Well, back in August, the University of Colorado announced it was segregating students with concealed carry permits in dorms of their own on its campuses in Boulder and Colorado Springs. This, after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down the school’s ban on people bringing guns on campus. So now, a student 21 years or older who has a permit may be armed in the dorm or even in class, though not, for some reason, at a school event requiring a ticket.

Recently, the Denver Post decided to count the number of young gunslingers who wanted to live among their own. How many kids had rushed to take advantage of this opportunity?

Let’s just say there is not a waiting list. The Post reports the number of kids who opted for the gun dorm is zero. A big, fat goose egg.

The paper speculated on a few reasons for this: maybe there are not enough students with carry permits who live on campus; maybe students with such permits find it more convenient just to sneak their guns into the old dorm.

OK. But isn’t it also possible at least some of this preference for unleaded dorms reflects a happy outbreak of simple sanity? Is it too much to hope at least some students recognize — as the court did not — that an environment full of immature judgment, poor impulse control, overactive hormones, sexual rivalries, drug use and binge drinking is perhaps, not the best place to introduce weapons of mass destruction?

One keeps thinking that surely there has to be some middle ground that balances the rights of responsible adults to own firearms, with the need of a society to ensure that people who ought not have access to them are denied. But we will never get there so long as the debate is dominated by the sort of extremism Colorado exemplifies.

As has happened with conservatism generally, the gun rights movement has lurched hard to the right in recent years, has alienated reason, ostracized compromise and fetishized guns and gun ownership to a point that seems psychologically unhealthy.

What was once a campaign to ensure the right of people to bear arms has mutated into a campaign to ensure guns at all times for everybody everywhere and to smack down those who would seek to ban them, even from places where banning them makes obvious sense.

In Georgia, for instance, they’ve been arguing over whether or not to allow guns in churches.

In Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, you can bring a gun into a bar.

And now, in Colorado, where a deranged man shot up a movie theater in July, and two disaffected teenagers broke the nation’s heart with a 1999 massacre at their high school, they say it’s OK to bring guns into the dorm.

An armed citizenry will help deter crime, goes the “thinking.” As if we were all living on the set of some old TV western.

But this is not “Bonanza.” This is a nation where shell casings crunch underfoot, children and the mentally ill have guns, and there have been, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 60 mass shootings just since the attack on Gabrielle Giffords in 2011. You do not solve a problem of too many guns in the wrong hands with a policy of guns at all times for everybody, everywhere.

Maybe that’s the message of the empty gun dorm. And that suggests pretty good judgment after all.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


Liberty_One 2 years, 3 months ago

"an environment full of immature judgment, poor impulse control, overactive hormones, sexual rivalries, drug use and binge drinking"

Pitts is right, don't go to college. It's a waste of money and time.

beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

Are you kidding? An environment of immature judgment, poor impulse control, overactive hormones, sexual rivalries, drug use and binge drinking sounds like the best time money can buy! And in the end it makes someone's possibilities of being hired greater than had they not gone. That is a win-win in my book.

I kid, of course, but college is only a waste of money and time for those who don't have specific goals in mind, aren't motivated to take advantage of the learning environment to the fullest, and spend money without pursuing options for scholarships, work study programs, etc... It isn't a one-size-fits-all waste of money and time, but it can be.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

If your goal is getting a better job, then going to college may or may not be your best choice. There are many variables, such as choice of career, etc. However, if your reason for going to college is to get a better education, regardless of how it may or may not effect your future earnings, then college is a wonderful thing to do, assuming you can afford it. The value of an education simply to be better educated shouldn't be underestimated.

tolawdjk 2 years, 2 months ago

Didn't read the article, but I think you are describing Congress, not college.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Clearly neither college nor even law school is an antidote to immaturity and shallow thought processes.

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

In other news, "I'm carrying a concealed firearm" license plates end up a being a complete bust.

grammaddy 2 years, 2 months ago

And the students become the teachers.

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

Here's some numbers for you based off this article and this webpage.

CU can house 6,357 students in it's residence halls. Of that number, only 4% are over the age of 21, bring the total eligible for a permit to 254. CU estimates that half of those over 21 are actually employees of the university as 'RA's and hence not eligible to carry; that brings the number down to 127. A CU analysis shows that 0.6% of faculty, staff, and students have a CC permit, that brings the number down to an astounding 3/4th of a person.

Now lets through in some other evidence that I don't want to take the time to site, a majority of people who get a concealed carry license are over the age of 30 (concealed carriers under the age of 30 in Kansas make up less than 10%). So the 0.6% is probably a good deal lower for students than it is for faculty and staff.

Why did no one want to live in a gun dorm, because there is statistically no one eligible. I would expect that CU knew this before they make a stink about no one wanting to live there.

dwendel 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey Dillon, Good post, but your last paragraph about CU making a stink is off target.

Your statistics are from CU's own analysis prior to the new year. "A CU analysis shows that 0.6% of faculty, staff, and students have a CC permit, that brings the number down to an astounding 3/4th of a person." They were right. There are no CU students who want to keep guns int thier dorms.

If CU made a stink (no evidence thereof in these stories), it was because they were forced to create a gun dorm knowing that there was only 3/4 of a person who might want to legally keep a gun in their dorm room. The legislature (certainly on directives from the pro-gun lobby) forced them to allow guns in residence halls anyway and used a lot of tax dollars, in this case supporting the rights of potentially 3/4 of one person (but it turns out to be 0 persons) to live with guns over the desire of the other 29,278 CU students to (presumably) live in a gun-free environment.

I don't have a problem with responsible, legal gun ownership. I do have a problem with corporate-sponsored, ill-conceived, wasteful (in this case purely symbolic, but very costly to pass) legislation thrust on the general public just because some companies want to sell more guns. And shame on the legislative whores for taking the money and doing their bidding. Meanwhile, you and I get talking-point form letters back when when we try to reach our "representatives."

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe the legislature forced CU to create a gun dorm. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the university could not restrict licensed concealed carriers from carrying on the property. Colorado altered the housing contracts to disallow students from having the guns in the residence halls. In my opinion, if CU had simply ignored the housing contract changes, nothing would have changed and few to no students would actually have a gun in their dorm. I don't think the firearm lobby has any interest to force a separate gun dorm, it is much more in the interest of concealed carriers to not be segregated to a different dormitory.

Second, my numbers only reflect the eligible students within the residence halls, it makes no mention of their personal views on CC. Those numbers certainly don't have any bearing on the other ~23,000 students at CU who do not live in the dorms. You can't rightfully say that 29,278 CU students don't want CC on campus, all you can say is there are very few (or possibly zero) students who live in the residence halls who actually have permits. I support fishing, but I don't have a fishing permit, know what I mean?

Also, to touch on the philosophy of CC a little. No matter how much some people may want it, they are not living in a gun-free environment.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

I'd guess that what CU wanted to do was allow residents an informed choice about whom they were living with. If they want to live with unarmed dorm mates, they have that choice. If they want armed dorm mates, they can also have that choice.

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

Some would argue that having a firearm in your place of residence (regardless of CC) should be protected by the constitution. But, that's not the argument here.

I would tell you that the students don't have a choice. They are living with armed dorm mates already. This is just a matter of whether the dorms should be illegal guns only, or illegal guns and licensed guns.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Assuming Dillon's numbers are correct, that there are zero eligible students available to move into this gun dorm (statistically speaking), isn't it safe to assume that the state legislature, the university and the writer of this article would be aware of this? And if those assumptions are true, may we assume that these's an awful lot of grandstanding going on by all involved?

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

Over the dorms, yes I would agree. However, those who live in the dorms only make up a fraction of the university's populace. It doesn't included the roughly 23,000 other students, 1,000 academic staff, and numerous non-academic staff. Those individuals aren't necessary affected by the dorm situation, however, this entire change may affect them.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 2 months ago

Something that confuses me. When did the words "well regulated militia" (my emphasis) come to mean "You can take my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."?

Phoghorn 2 years, 2 months ago

The term "well regulated", in 18th Century English, meant well functioning. Examples: well regulated mind, or well regulated clock. This phase was not a reference to government control.

Also, don't forget the second clause of the second amendment, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

voevoda 2 years, 2 months ago

"Well regulated" may not have implied government control, but it certainly implied careful oversight and organization, especially seeing as that adjective is attached to another word--"militia"--in the Second Amendment. A "well regulated militia" is the antithesis of individuals choosing to arm themselves, carry their weapons with them everywhere they go, and use them whenever, whereever, and however they see fit.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Something I heard a long time ago but don't know exactly it's accuracy was the suggestion that the word "militia" at the time of the Constitution's writing meant an able bodied person able to pick up a gun, should the need arise. It wasn't meant to be something like the National Guard. Add in the other poster's comment about "well regulated" and together you might have "a clear thinking, able bodied individual able to bear arms, should the need arise".

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

Also, what's the deal with airline food? Am I right, folks?

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 2 months ago

What airline food? I apparently only take flights where you're lucky to get a soda and a mini bag of pretzels.

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

I was not aware pretzels didn't count as food...

beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

Taxes are lower now than they have been in many years. We have a massive debt that needs to be paid. Raising taxes back to a level where it was under Bush by doing away with TEMPORARY tax cuts to a top rate that is still far below where it was under Reagan (your god) isn't exactly the same as Democrats punishing achievement. You are simply lying about the reality of the issue. Saddest thing is, you know this to be true.

Quit being a disappointed regressive already. Your man lost on Nov. 6, 2012. Deal with it.

Phoghorn 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes, tax rates are lower, but in previous decades there were more loopholes available. Thus, nobody actually paid in at those higher tax levels, unless they failed to take advantage of at least a few loopholes. You have to look at the effective tax rates.

beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

There were? Is that why someone like Mitt Romney who made millions last year paid 14% taxes?

voevoda 2 years, 2 months ago

Clearly, rockchalk1977, your college education did not include the actual definition of "socialism." Obama is not a socialist. The Democratic Party does not advocate socialism. Socialism does not involve "confiscatory tax policies" or giving "government handouts" to "unproductive takers."

MartyT 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm pretty sure the Republican-dominated Kansas state legislature levies taxes. OMG Republicans are socialists too!!!

beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

So if the 3/4 of a person who might have been eligible had requested to live in the gun dorm, would they have housed that student all alone in his own dorm? What a deal.

Problem I have with this article is the damning of college students as ignorant party animals -- except when they do something Pitts agrees with. Then, they are wise beyond their years. Silly.

verity 2 years, 2 months ago

Supposedly a comment got disappeared on another thread for being off-topic and yet there are numerous comments here that are way off topic---some people have such an obsession with our president that they have to bring him into every discussion.

So what's the deal?

beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

Easy. They live for their hatred. Because of Obama, they have an excuse to look at their world as a cup half empty and they make up stuff about him. Obama will take away their guns, Obama will drive us into Socialism, Obama hates success, Obama will tax the wealthy. It isn't the real Obama they concern themselves with, but with their own projections. To them, he is the ultimate empty chair. They want to be unhappy, and they have their hero to provide them with their unhappiness.

Put simply, Obama completes them.

DillonBarnes 2 years, 2 months ago

I think both of you are smart enough, but I feel like it needs saying anyway. Not all gun owners subscribe to this anti-Obama NRA propaganda. Not all gun owners believe Obama is out to "take our guns."

Also, I immediately assume anyone who uses the buzzword "socialist" to describe Obama, is very poorly informed.

beatrice 2 years, 2 months ago

DB, you were correct with your initial hunch that nothing was needed. I would never automatically lump a firearms enthusiast with the anti-Obama-everything crowd.

beanheadmcginty 2 years, 2 months ago

We can argue over the rights and wrongs of gun control until the cows come home, but surely we can all agree that there's been a tragically missed opportunity here. If just one student had the good sense to get one of these permits, he or she would have a whole dorm to themselves for the year. Think of all that extra space, privacy, quiet and bathroom availability... And, most importantly, the air of mystery and danger you could cultivate around yourself. Regardless of whether you actually owned a gun or not (and I think it would be much funnier if you didn't but never admitted it) you would be THAT student. The only gunslinger on campus. The urge to dress like Clint Eastwood every day would be irresistible (and, in my opinion, absolutely the correct thing to do). I think even the professors would think twice before giving you a bad grade.

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