The local Pittsburgh media has reported about a young lady at one of the branches of the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) recently registered a new campus organization, the CCAC branch of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.
Yes, you heard it right. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus! It’s an organization that wants to allow college students to carry concealed hand guns on college campuses, with proper licensing of course.
Currently CCAC and virtually all other colleges and universities ban firearms, and with good reason. Traditional college students and those who live on campus for the most part are still completing the transition from childhood to adulthood. They are on their own for the first time, and often ready to break free of their former lives or their parent’s beliefs. Many are still learning how to read other people’s words and actions. While many college kids are studious, most start drinking for the first time, and many practice the ancient art of binge-drinking. Many do drugs. There is a high rate of adjustment problems, including depression. There’s lots of sex and everyone’s horny, which sometimes can lead to jealousy or misunderstood motives. While many college students show remarkably good common sense, some do very foolish things that they won’t be telling their own children about in future decades.
It seems irrational to want to bring firearms into this potent mix. The only thing that can come of it are more innocent bodies bubbling blood through bullet holes.
Which brings us to the organization, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, which I am going to shorten to Stu-Con for the purpose of writing this blog. On the website, http://concealedcampus.org, Stu-Con describes itself thusly:
“Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising over 42,000 college students, professors, college employees, parents of college students, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that they enjoy virtually everywhere else.”
While regaining a right that they think has been taken from them is the objective identified in this mission statement, in fact much of the organization’s language and virtually all of its imagery focuses on self defense, i.e., shooting at someone. There is a kind of Bernard Goetz subtext to the arguments and photography (Several decades ago, Goetz rode the New York subway with a loaded gun waiting for the chance to shoot a would-be thief or mugger; he ended up bagging four.)
Some example of this shooting mentality in the subtext of Stu-Con’s con:
- Every image on the website except for photos of the board of directors shows a young person firing a gun and not at a target.
- I have been to the Stu-Con website several times and until the visit I made while writing this entry the home page showed a montage of six posters, in all of which a young person was shooting at a bad guy, either for real or in a symbolic way. For example, one had two condoms and a woman firing a gun, with the caption, “What will deter your rapist from coming back for more?” The poster montage was missing while I was writing the blog entry. When I returned to the Stu-Con site a few hours later, there was only one poster, with the headline, “Which campus would a mass murderer pick?” and an image of a girl shooting and the caption “Armed Staff and Students” facing the image of a gun with a standard red “forbidden” icon over it and the caption “No Legal Guns Allowed.”
- Multiple repetitions of the assumption (fallacious) that carrying firearms reduces the rate of crime. By the way, Stu-Con admits that crime rates tend to be lower on the average college campus.
- Many inflammatory statements such as “Recent high-profile shootings and armed abductions on college campuses clearly demonstrate that ‘gun free zones’ serve to disarm only those law-abiding citizens who might otherwise be able to protect themselves” and “It is often claimed that students could not possibly react with the speed and proficiency required to take down an active shooter. Neglecting the fact that these citizens (age 21 and older in most cases) already carry elsewhere and are trusted with that ability, as well as the fact that citizens are not required to perfect their skill in self-defense before exercising the right to self-defense, we present documented incidents of successful student self-defense.”
An interesting note: On its media page, there are no links to articles, only to YouTube versions of television news stories. I guess it the Stu-Conners don’t believe college students read at all anymore.
My assistant Colette contacted Stu-Con and asked three questions that are fairly standard, ones that most nonprofit organizations should be able to answer immediately. I am assuming Stu-Con is a nonprofit because its URL ends in “.org,” and it takes a pretty slimy organization to register as an “.org” when it’s not a nonprofit.
Our questions, all of which Stu-Con’s Kurt Mueller refused to answer:
- Are you a nonprofit organization?
- Can you supply a list of your largest donors?
- What percentage of your 42,000 reported members are college students?
At the very best, Stu-Con comprises well-intentioned if slightly benighted young people who like carrying guns around and may be slightly trigger-happy. At its worst, it’s another money-making rightwing con like the Tea Party convention and much Tea Party activity (see the second half of Frank Rich’s January 16 column).