Josh Rouse

I believe it was a quote posted by Nick Parkhill on one of our last articles online at www.washburnreview.org that said, “when seconds count, police are only minutes away.” I couldn’t find the attribution for it, but I must say, regardless of who said it, it’s a good point.

There’s been lots of discussion about whether or not students who have paid, trained and passed a background check for their concealed carry license should be allowed to bring their weapons on campus. Now, I’m not one of those gun-thumping, Charlton Heston-worshiping stereotypes that anti-gun interest groups parade around as prime examples of why guns are pure evil, but at the same time I realize that these weapons are dangerous tools and should be treated with extreme respect and caution. But what many people fail to realize is that guns are just that: a tool. They’re no more machines of death and destruction than anything else. In the right hands, a meat cleaver can be a skilled tool in chopping meat and preparing food, yet that same tool can be turned into a device of pain and death in the hands of someone who intends to do harm.

The old saying is that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and while there are those out there who quickly look to demonize firearms, it should be the people who handle them that should be examined. Just as in the case of the meat cleaver, there are those who are skilled enough to handle them in an appropriate manner and then there are those who aren’t, and the legal process of purchasing firearms is an attempt to filter out those who are unfit for possession of a weapon. The process to receive the ability to carry a concealed weapon is an even further filtering process.

A friend enlightened me to some interesting statistics last night. According to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Web site, www.nraila.org, there are 65-80 million gun owners in the United States, 30 million of which own handguns. The National Safety Council’s Web site, www.nsc.org, states that in 2004 there were only 649 deaths because of an accidental discharge of a firearm.

Just to offer comparison, according to the American Medical Association Web site, as of 2007 there were approximately 900,000 medical physicians in the United States. Life Extension Magazine, www.lef.org, reported that medical physicians are responsible for an average of 783,936 deaths every year.

If you break it down, the number of accidental deaths caused by a physician every year is .8701. Conversely, every gun owner in the United States is responsible for only .0000098 deaths every year. Even if you assume that all deaths by accidental discharge are from the 30 million Americans who own handguns, the number is still only .00002163. So, to all those who think they’re going to be in mortal danger if we allow law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon on campus, have fun at your next physical.

At events like Virginia Tech and NIU, the shooters wreaked havoc mere seconds after they opened fire. Sure, I have faith in the campus police and in their ability to protect students from dangers, but only if they’re present. The problem in cases like those is that, as I stated in my opening sentence, seconds can make the difference between life and death. While I’m not advocating people rounding up a posse and becoming vigilantes, I do think that the dangers people fear from guns on campus are not rooted in actual fact but rather fear-mongering rhetoric.

So ultimately, would allowing conceal carry at Washburn rule out the possibility of an NIU or Virginia Tech incident here? Unfortunately, the answer is no. But when seconds are critical, students could be the first responders to save lives.