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  • BYU’s Campus Gun Ban

    Posted on July 21st, 2014 Finster No comments

    This is a letter to the editor I recently wrote in response to a ridiculously one-sided front page “story” about BYU’s campus-wide ban on firearms.

    To The Editor:

    In light of recent college shootings, as BYU students and employees, we will naturally wonder, “What if that happened here?” A completely one-sided July 15 article on the cover of The Universe addressed some of the fears and concerns around allowing guns on campus and provided one view of what is not just a question of basic Constitutional rights, but a very real question of protecting life.

    Some common arguments were used by BYU Police Lieutenant Arnold Lemmon and the BYU students who agreed with The Universe’s opinion that armed citizens must remain persona non grata. Unfortunately, those arguments rely on fear, misinformation, and misrepresentation.

    Billy Hagee, a psychology major, said, “I have much more confidence in the police. . . . It seems there is so much risk involved in a situation with untrained shooters.” There is a fear, likely held by many, that an armed populace is inherently more dangerous than armed law enforcement officers.

    Lt. Lemmon said, “If you were an officer walking into an active shooter situation and you saw people with firearms drawn, what would you do?” A valid question, but the sad fact is that private citizens are more often on the right side of that question than the wrong side.

    Newsweek reported that 2% of civilian shootings involved an innocent person being shot (note: that is shot, not killed). The error rate reported for police was 11%, which counted innocent people killed–not just shot. In other words, the error rates for law enforcement are substantially higher than they are for typical, armed citizens. A University of Chicago study found that in 1993, 330 innocent individuals were killed in police shootings in Chicago, while about 600 alleged criminals were killed. That means that for every two criminals killed by trained police officers, one innocent person was killed by law enforcement.

    This is, by no means, a criticism of any police force, let alone BYU police. Police officers routinely are on the front line of danger and naturally encounter difficult circumstance. But when it comes to feelings about who you trust with firearms, people ought to be aware that common, armed citizens–statistically speaking–have a far better track record than law enforcement when it comes to shooting the wrong person.

    I could go on for many more paragraphs detailing study after study after study that shows that there is a correlation between gun ownership, concealed carry permits, and lower violent crime rates. The fact of the matter is, common perception of this subject is wrong: the statistics support confidence in an armed citizenry. Permitting concealed carry, in light of statistical evidence and in spite of what certain people seem to “feel,” would make everyone on campus safer.

    A gun owner and concealed carry permit holder

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