Sitting in a lecture hall with a police-issued Glock handgun holstered on his hip and recent police gun training fresh in his head, Muhlenberg College student Joey Dolan is ambushed by an armed gunman and shot in the head and chest before he can even untangle his pistol from his shirt.

Though this particular situation is only part of an experiment conducted in Pennsylvania by ABC News several years ago that employed plastic bullets tipped with paint, it still holds relevance to a recent movement here at the UW. Students for Concealed Carry, a registered student organization, seeks to legalize carrying concealed weapons on the UW campus for “licensed individuals,” as it states on its Facebook page.

I have a problem with that.

Guns on college campuses, especially a public university where over 44,000 students are enrolled, are a really bad idea, and this ABC News experiment, titled “If I Only Had a Gun,” highlights that students carrying concealed weapons in active-shooter scenarios are incapable of defending themselves.  

During the experiment, multiple trials were carried out with one armed student present in the classroom when the shooter enters. Each trial ended with the same result: The armed student is shot multiple times with the painted bullets and pronounced “dead,” along with multiple other students. Only one girl is able to fire back, hitting the shooter, but this occurs well after she has been shot multiple times.

One could argue that if every student was armed in the lecture hall, the shooter could have been stopped quicker, but ABC dismisses this notion as well, explaining in detail the biological processes that slow your body’s reflexes in high-stress situations.  

The study corroborates the slow-reflexes analysis as the one student with the most gun training freezes at his desk and is shot a total of five times and at least two of the five hits are lethal.

This is the heart of the issue. If all 44,000 students on our campus carried a firearm, then, collectively, we would probably have a fairly good chance at eventually defending ourselves against an active shooter, if we were ever unfortunate enough to undergo a mass shooting on campus. But all students carrying a gun on campus is not only unrealistic, it is not safe.

Even Students for Concealed Carry concedes its movement would permit only “licensed individuals” to possess weapons on campus. But the state of Washington, requires only an individual be over the age of 21, have no record of mental illness, and no criminal record in order to get a concealed weapons permit. No classes or training are required to pack heat, and this could be a major issue if students with concealed weapons were ever confronted with the real danger of a shooter.

Anybody can fire a gun, but unless they have had crisis training and have been taught by professionals how to conduct themselves in a dangerous situation, such as a mass shooting on a college campus, it is unlikely that anyone with a concealed weapon could defend themselves and others in a safe and effective manner without endangering the lives and well-being of their fellow classmates.  

Furthermore, if a shooter were to kill or incapacitate an armed student, who is to say the killer will not add the dropped weapon to his or her arsenal?

I know a lot of people take the Second Amendment seriously, and I understand why. The Constitution grants possession and ownership of a firearm as a legal right. But we have a fantastic police force on our campus, and I am willing to trust them with my life and personal safety over a student with a handgun, no matter how many hours of optional training or gun safety classes that student has taken.

Law enforcement professionals are trained to deal with a crisis, such as an active shooter, and human biology is not doing students with weapons any favors. If you have to carry a concealed weapon so that you feel safe in your day to day life, keep it outside our classrooms and lecture halls and trust our police department to do its job.


Reach contributing writer Robert Horton at Twitter: @robert_e_horton

(9) comments

What has happened to "critical thinking" in today's universities? There isn't ANY in evidence in the article above.

An ABC-orchestrated "experiment" purports to show how incapable students are of defending themselves with guns, but is that what it really shows? First, the selected students were completely untrained; second, they had to carry in an unusual manner such that the gun tangled in clothing when deployed; third, the shooter knew the identity of the armed student before entering the classroom and shot that student immediately after shooting the instructor. What conclusions can we draw from this? The "experiment" was designed to show a particular result and it did, but is that reality?

In real life, lawful concealed carriers (LCCs) are 21 or older; that is, they're seniors, faculty, or older learners returning to complete their education. They are NOT typical freshmen or sophomores. LCCs on average are better trained than the police. It's not unusual for "untrained civilians" to work their way through 5,000 rounds of ammunition over the course of a year. Your typical campus cop shoots two boxes whenever it's time to requalify. In real life, a madman with a gun is not going to find the lone armed student sitting in row 2, seat 4.

Recall Richard Feynman's words to the Challenger Commission: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." In the same way, pretending that a "No Guns Allowed" policy will actually keep you safe is putting wishful thinking ahead of reality. You're supposed to be college material. Get a grip.

Do You Patronize Businesses That Undermine Your Freedoms - Fact is, mindless gun-free zones are what mass shootings have in common. They are killing zones, free from good guys with guns. That’s why the Aurora movie theater killer chose the more distant theater where guns were not allowed and thus where he wouldn’t have to worry about his plan being foiled.

Mass Shooters Prefer Gun-Free Zones

moderation = censorship

The ABC rigged experiment has been well documented and just the slightest bit of research would have shown the author exactly that. In addition the Constitution does not "grant" rights or "possession and ownership of a firearm". Self Defense is an inalienable right codified by the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights and in Washington State Article 1 Section 24 has an even more self defense friendly bar of impaired versus the 2nd's infringed. Amazing how someone can attend a State University with so little knowledge of the basic civics of the State in which one resides. Now if the author wishes to opine about his or her reluctance to carry concealed on campus that is their right, but to denigrate the 500,000 Washingtonians with a concealed pistol licenses as somehow being incapable of putting a stop to a mass shooter is just plain short sighted and ignorant.

That's some mighty fancy words and legalese you've got there.

Common core education letting you down eh

Naw, I've done been edumacated. It just looks like mIOath typed out some thoughts, banged a thesaurus on 'em, and gave it to a lawyer for editing. Ideas are best expressed simply.

Robert as all anti gun troglodytes do, doesnt have a clue about anything gun related tactical or functional realities as such.

Otherwise he could post all the problems he infers have mythically occured in the 19 states and 300+ school districts that have concealed carry on campuses already for the past 30+ years.....

See no one sane ever believed chicken little screaming the sky was falling, why then should any one sane believe robert, oh we dont!

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