Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Colleges as Firing Ranges

College is an intentional time of chaos. It is the border crossing from adolescence to adulthood. It is when young people take their first steps of free will, exploring new ideas, experimenting with alcohol and drugs and crossing personal boundaries.


Photo Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

In this raging stew pot of hormones, the National Rifle Association is proposing to introduce a new influence – campus-carry gun laws. Touted as a defense against sexual violence, more guns in the hands of too often inebriated or despondent college students are likely to turn tragic events into tragedies.

College campuses aren’t Wild West video games where heroes earn their swagger by gunning down bad guys with a joystick. And video games are no longer innocuous Mario exploits. Young kids have already become inured to killing. Now the NRA wants to give them real-life weapons to show their skill.

I have a daughter attending college and I worry about her safety. However, the answer to college rape is not turning campuses into firing ranges.

For the NRA, the answer to any social ill is arming people. Little wonder the NRA fights so hard to suppress research into the role of guns in our society and what happens when everybody is walking around with a Glock.

News reports indicate several state legislatures are considering campus-carry laws. Sponsors of these bills insist they want to stop sexual assaults on college campuses and believe letting people carry guns is the answer.

So let’s reflect a moment on how college rapes often occur. Women attend a party, have too much to drink and one or more guys seize the chance to take advantage of the situation, while others – including friends of the soon-to-be victim – stand by, perhaps in a drunken stupor, and do nothing.

Now add guns to the story. If the intoxicated female victim has a gun, she may be unable to wield it or, just as likely, injure herself trying. If an assailant finds the gun, he may steal it or, worse, use it to injure or kill the female victim. If the assailants are armed themselves, they may wind up in what amounts to a barroom shootout with the victim’s friends who are spurred to action at the adrenalin-rush trigger of their guns.

Rape CultureSound like a solution? It sounds more like a Greek tragedy, except it wouldn’t be a play where the dead actors rise up to take a curtain call. There would be a room full of dead kids, many of them innocent victims who had nothing to do with the rape. Like many shooting incidents, they would just be people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Advocates have a simpler narrative. A female lawmaker defended a Nevada campus-carry bill in an interview with The New York Times by saying, “These young, hot little girls on campus” would be far safer if they could brandish a weapon and make sure “these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” If were just that simple.

Arming kids on campus has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. It also has little relationship to good sense. It is, plain and simple, a stupid idea.

We’ve grown so accustomed to stupid and outrageous ideas spouted by the NRA that we almost don’t take notice any more. As each idea grows more preposterous, we pay less attention. Unfortunately, legislators pay attention because they know the NRA has the ability to shoot them down in the next election.

As the NRA’s most ardent advocates like to say “Guns don’t shoot people. People shoot people.” Exactly.

TombstoneRussellCurBajaThat’s why the Wyatt Earps of a bygone era insisted on seizing sidearms when people drifted into Tombstone and headed for the bar. It is hard to imagine Wyatt Earp handing out guns to college students when they matriculate.

It is even harder to imagine how anyone believes more guns will lead to fewer rapes. Creating more victims won’t end the Rape Culture on college campuses. That will require a very different kind of weapon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: