Archive for Friday, February 10, 2017

Your Turn: Fight laws that allow guns on our campuses

February 10, 2017

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Come July 1, a law going into effect will shake the very foundations of the University of Kansas.

The Personal and Family Protection Act, which authorizes “conceal and carry” on campus, will permit the presence of firearms in nearly every sector of the university.

When polled, more than 80 percent of the faculty, staff and students expressed their opposition to the law. Their displeasure was echoed last week in Topeka. A well-informed contingent of school-affiliated and private citizens from across the state flooded the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee hearing room and spoke passionately about the problems of conceal/carry. Their protest was a direct response to the mistaken belief that Kansas colleges, universities and community colleges are largely indifferent or unconcerned about the implementation of this law. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Though self-governance has been a foundational principle of higher education, state universities and colleges in Kansas were not provided an opportunity to opt into this policy. Had we been consulted, we would have provided studied analyses of the many implications of allowing guns on campus. The results arguably might have been a reasoned, less divisive debate on the matter. The overall climate might have insured inclusivity, allowing for a thorough vetting of all points of view.

Now the discourse has deteriorated into partisan rhetoric and an inability to engage in a civil exchange of ideas. Indeed, there is no evidence that the pro-gun lobby actually desires a meaningful discussion of the issue. Still, the goal for many of us is quite clear. We must press for the right to determine whether — not how — to allow guns on campus. One of our tasks is to get the Legislature to understand that colleges and universities are the best judges of appropriate policies that govern actions on campuses.

In this spirit, my hopes are buoyed by reports of allies among new and returning legislators. News and other sources report that a number of legislators have begun seeking to repeal or possibly delay the implementation of the law. I loudly applaud them. My enthusiasm is tempered only by two realities. In the absence of concrete data, we simply have no numbers telling us how many people might represent this revised view. The conditional word “might” simply suggests something within the realm of possibility; it does not promise specific results.

Second, I am unwilling to agree with any change that does not mean a permanent exemption from conceal/carry. For me, the “middle ground” proposal that has been floated is troubling. It is disconcerting because it accepts the current law as a fait accompli. It merely delays its implementation until accommodations can be made for those who do not wish to be in the presence of guns. I advocate passage of legislation that permanently exempts universities from conceal/carry, not one that simply “kicks the can down the road.” In the meantime, we are left to confront a law fraught with problems.

The Personal and Family Protection Act is flawed legislation. At KU, there are instances of sexual assault, religious intolerance, violence against gender nonconforming people and much more. None of these transgressions, however, necessitates guns as a remedy.

The law is also discriminatory because students younger than 21 as well as international students are not eligible to carry a weapon.

The law is simply untenable. Studies have shown no correlation between guns and a safer environment. Research into domestic violence, mental illness, suicidal tendencies, and more reveals that readily accessible weapons dramatically increase the possibility for dire consequences.

And in the interminable debate about Second Amendment rights, banning guns from campus has absolutely nothing to do with abridging or terminating one’s individual rights. A campus is a “safe space,” a place where ideas are shaped and formed in the crucible of intellectual exchange. Civility and mutual respect are foundational in the life of ideas. Guns have no place in this environment. They would seriously disrupt an educational process intended to facilitate the search for knowledge and independent thought.

We must therefore force the issue. I agree with Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a struggle.” We must fight against this law as if our very lives depend on it, which, in a very real way, our lives do.

— John Edgar Tidwell is a professor of English at the University of Kansas.

Comments

Louis Kannen 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank you, Professor Tidwell. Your eloquence is not only refreshing, it is absolutely on the mark.

Randolf Fellows 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Good letter. As this issue has become such a pet of our governor and his cronies in the Legislature, they move further and further away from any sane or reasoned debate on the issue. They resort to fear mongering and references to the 2nd Amendment without attempting to justify their position with a sound argument. But with the repeal or revision of this law having little chance, I think it's time to consider other options for those who oppose this law. I think universities should try a grass roots approach by cultivating an openly hostile social agenda towards those who bring guns onto campus. I'm not advocating violence or even harassment, but open contempt and refusal to be pleasant to those who bring guns onto campus.

Bob Smith 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Starts off with hyperbole and then goes totally off the rails. C-, Mr. Professor. In other fake news regarding firearms: https://bearingarms.com/bob-o/2017/02/10/nbc-news-spreads-fear-lies-ghost-gun-fake-news/

Brock Masters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The University can opt out by providing security to protect its faculty and students. I think that is a fair compromise.

The right to bear arms is a Constitutional right just like others. The Constitution does not provide an exemption for public property so it is a right to carry even on college campuses.

Of course, any right can be reasonably regulated - It's in the Heller decision - but there is a difference between regulating and prohibiting. Not allowing concealed carry on campus is not a reasonable regulation, but instead, an outright prohibition of a right.

Requiring someone to be 21, not to brandish it, and not to shoot anyone except in self defense are reasonable regulations.

I get it you don't like guns. You don't feel safe around guns and want to ban them. I get it, but you can't base infringement of a right on your subjective opinion.

There are many who are offended by gays and abortions. They seek to deny their rights. It is wrong in that case and wrong here.

Protect all rights for as one falls so will the rest.

Randolf Fellows 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Total BS and you know it Brock. There is no way universites could possibly fund security checkpoints. The cost would be incredibly high. Just more crap to cloud the issue. And the second amendment is about malitias, not taking your Glock to your creative writing class. Federal courts have never said concealed carry was a Constitutional right.

Brock Masters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Randolf you should read the SCOTUS cas DC v Heller. The court ruled the 2nd amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.

Randolf Fellows 3 months, 2 weeks ago

My claim was that the "Federal courts have never said concealed carry was a Constitutional right". Do you have a specific example where the court found concealed carry was constitutionally protected? I thought not. SAD.

Brock Masters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I figured the SCOTUS was better, but no problem. You want federal court here goes. Back in 2012 after the Heller case the Illinois 7th circuit appeals court struck down the state's ban on carrying concealed firearms. Richard Posner of the court found the ban on concealed weapons unconstitutional.

Posner wrote "A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home."

Randolf Fellows 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I stand corrected. Too bad that one did not make it to the Supreme Court. I would be very curious for their thoughts on this.

Brock Masters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Randolf the IL was a direct result of the SCOTUS Heller decision so the result most likely would have been upheld by the SCOTUS.

Steve Jacob 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's a lost cause. Going to happen, had four years to get ready for it. I bet at least a dozen students are carrying guns today on campus.

John Middleton 3 months, 2 weeks ago

There isn't a single building on campus that doesn't have a door accessible to the public that does not conform to the law on the posting of the "no guns" signs. If it doesn't follow the letter of the law, it has no meaning according to the email I received from the Kansas Attorney General's office.

Brock Masters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The schools should take steps to make the campus safer when the law takes place by asking students who plan to carry and those that don't by providing safe gun handling training, training on the laws that pertain to the use of deadly force (want to ruin your future? Shoot someone even in self defense. It is a right not to be taken lightly) provide a safe place for students to store weapons when not being carried.

There are other voluntary steps the schools could take to provide a safer environment when the law takes effect.

Pete Kennamore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"At KU, there are instances of sexual assault, religious intolerance, violence against gender nonconforming people and much more. None of these transgressions, however, necessitates guns as a remedy"

That's right, you don't need a gun to fend off a rapist, just lay there and take it baby.

Richard Neuschafer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Very poor reasoning. In most cases the criminal(s) takes the gun away from a sexual assault victim and uses it on her. Too often the rape also turns into a murder. Get your facts straight.

Pete Kennamore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It must be very sad living in your head Dick.

Bob Smith 3 months, 1 week ago

"..... In most cases the criminal(s) takes the gun away from a sexual assault victim and uses it on her..." Citation, please?

Bruce Bertsch 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry Brock, but the State, you know the folks who actually own the property of KU, won't fork over the needed $$$ to install all of the safety measures needed. It will take more than $1 million just for Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. The sane solution is to restrict the carrying of weapons on the campus. The right to bear arms, as you state is not absolute. There is also the right to regulate. Since Kansas has chosen to have no restrictions at all on carrying weapons, it needs be that some one needs to create a regulation. Having the campus ban firearms would not be an imposition to the vast majority of students, hence it is reasonable.

Brock Masters 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Kansas has restrictions on carrying weapons. You must be 21, you can't possess a gun if you've been convicted of felonies, unlawful discharge areas, prohibited if you've have a history of illegal substance abuse, history of domestic violence and on and on.

Bob Smith 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"....Since Kansas has chosen to have no restrictions at all on carrying weapons..." Not so, there are disqualifications to owning a firearm in Kansas. If you can't legally own it, you can't legally carry it.

Eric Mills 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's good to see that we can trust men and women of college age to defend the 310 million residents of the US, but they can't be trusted to to defend themselves.

I see a whole lot of sense in that.

Just my casual observation.

Bob Summers 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Too funny.

As if helicopter raised cream puffs are going to want to, or be allowed by mother to, pack heat.

Tidwell is a perfect example of the enchanting, yet eloquent helicopter mentality.

Sally Pickman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank you for writing this piece. When facts, logic, and popular opinion are met with opposition it is important to not cave and stay diligent. There is only one correct argument to this debate and you articulated it well.

Andrew Applegarth 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Here are some of my favorites bit's of twisted logic this writer included:

-> A campus is a “safe space,”

-> At KU, there are instances of sexual assault, religious intolerance, violence against gender nonconforming people and much more.

So, which is it? Is it safe or not?

Or how about this set:

-> “Power concedes nothing without a struggle.”

-> self-governance has been a foundational principle of higher education,

-> We must press for the right to determine

So, this is just a power struggle? It's not about protecting anything other than KU's power and control...

Of course, I think my favorite is:

-> The law is also discriminatory because students younger than 21 as well as international students are not eligible to carry a weapon.

So, he's opposed to legal guns on campus because the law doesn't allow enough of them on campus? Now that is some interesting logic!

Here's another fact that he really doesn't understand:

-> Research into domestic violence, mental illness, suicidal tendencies, and more reveals that readily accessible weapons dramatically increase the possibility for dire consequences.

This law does not change a person's actual access to a weapon and, as history has shown, little plastic signs don't stop these particular individuals from carrying or shooting.

Okay, I've got to include one more:

-> banning guns from campus has absolutely nothing to do with abridging or terminating one’s individual rights.

So, not letting you bear arms has nothing to do with one's right to bear arms? Really? That's kind of like saying that murder doesn't take away your right to life. It just takes away your life...

In review, the author of this piece really just threw together whatever he could think of that sounded like it supported his current point. One of his biggest faults was that in attempting to support individual bits, he contradicted his support of other bits. As an English professor who didn't know enough about a subject to realize that the supporting evidence was flawed, I might call this a well supported paper and submit it for publication. As a person who actually knows something about the subject and a bit about writing English papers, I'd give it a D+ for supporting the individual points but failing to support the overall position. Perhaps KU should institute a review of this professor's classes to make sure he's teaching better English composition than what he's sending to the newspaper...

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