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Colorado Fights Concealed Carry on Campus: Why, Exactly?

What's the problem? University statistics show no correlation between carry permits and crime. Related: Colorado Legislators Propose to Ban Shotguns

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

March 2, 2013 - 3:21 am

The Colorado lower house passed four gun-control bills recently, all of which were bad ideas, but at least some of these bills had something to do with a real problem: mass murder. Democrats are, of course, pursuing the wrong strategy, but there is at least some connection between recent mass murders and high-capacity magazines; it isn’t like they passed a law against staplers.

But why did they pass a bill to ban concealed-carry licensees from carrying on university campuses? What problem were they trying to solve?

I have been following the struggle over concealed carry on campus for a number of years, at least in part because I teach at a community college and I have taught at a state university in the past. While I generally feel safe on campus, I recognize something that many students figured out after the Virginia Tech slaughter. By declaring themselves “gun-free zones,” universities and colleges have essentially put up an invitation: “Madmen intent on going out in a blaze of infamy: come here to commit your crime. We guarantee that no one here will be able to legally shoot back.”

This is the one category of college crime that does worry me a bit: the insane person who decides to become famous by shooting up a place where we are sheep to be led to the slaughter. This is a low-probability, high-consequence event: I used to compare it to an asteroid collision, people no longer laugh when I say that.

The case for banning concealed carry on Colorado college campuses, according to one of the Democrats in the Colorado lower house, is essentially that women terrified of rape will just start shooting people at random out of fear. This does not seem to be a problem in Colorado as a whole; perhaps there is something about university students that makes them less intelligent than the average Colorado female? More likely, Rep. Salazar is a sexist fool.

In any case, we don’t have to wonder what the results of allowing concealed carry on campus will be. The experiment has been ongoing for some years now.

Colorado adopted a “shall-issue” concealed-carry permit law in 2003. Colorado State University at Fort Collins had no problem with this at first, and until at least 2010, there was no restriction on faculty, staff, students, or visitors carrying concealed on campus, as long as they had a valid license. University of Colorado, Boulder, however, did prohibit licensees from carrying on campus until last year, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that, contrary to ivory tower opinion, the University of Colorado is actually inside the state of Colorado, and subject to its laws. (What a concept!)

So, what happened to violent crime rates at these two campuses during this period when, to hear Rep. Salazar tell the tale, co-eds might have been blazing away at non-rapists behind every bush?

Here’s the plot of violent crime rates (per 100,000 people) for both campuses from 2003 through 2011, from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (Table 9 for each year):

Because there is enormous variation in violent crime rates, I have added a trend line as well for each campus. As you can see, crime rates are generally down at both campuses — and the trend lines are parallel — indicating a generally similar decline (although UC Boulder did have a pretty nasty run-up while Fort Collins was enjoying a big drop in violent crime rates from 2004  to 2008). I won’t claim that this data prove that CSU Fort Collins was safer than UC Boulder because of concealed carry, but Fort Collins was a safe school at the start, a safer school at the end, and certainly did not get any worse.

The same is not true for UC Boulder.

Utah State University has allowed concealed carry by permit holders at least since 2002, when Attorney General Shurtleff issued an opinion that state universities were required to recognize state permits. The University of Utah fought it, losing the battle in 2006. Like the University of Colorado, they held the notion that in spite of the Utah legislature paying the bills and the University of Utah actually being inside Utah, following state law was optional.

Shock of shocks, Utah college students must be a lot like Colorado college students (although a bit less violent):

Once again, the University of Utah started out more violent than Utah State University, and remains more violent through this period. Neither school is particularly dangerous. While the trend lines show that there is a slight increase over the period 2003 to 2011 on both campuses, there is nothing that suggests that University of Utah allowing guns on campus after 2006 (or Utah State University after 2002) did anything dramatic to increase violent crime rates.

College campuses in both of these states are reasonably safe, like the campus where I teach. I am not terribly worried about being attacked by criminals, nor do my students worry me in the least. Anyone that I would be much worried about being on campus with a gun almost certainly does not qualify for a license anyway. If such a person decided to ignore the law and misuse a gun on campus — or if the meteor-strike rarity of an insane mass murderer were to show up on campus — I would rather be able to defend myself and my students, instead of just hoping that the police would show up in time.

Related:

Colorado Legislators Propose to Ban Shotguns

Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.

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All Comments   (22)
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The answer to the question is clearly that those who oppose the most effective personal self defense not just on campuses of higher education but also in primary government schools, is they are deathly afraid of acclimating young people to regular people carrying firearms. If that occurred we all would need a lot less government and that is what scares them most.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When has anything liberals have done is based on true logical thought?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To be fair, this is a common problem of politicians of all stripes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have lived here in Colorado for over 50 years. I have been active in politics here for over 40. I know the turf.

Right now, the Democrats hold both Houses of the Legislature, and the governorship. And right now, on orders from the top [state and national Democrat Party], ALL Democrats are under orders to vote for ALL gun control measures. Of the 4 that came out of the House, only one member voted against them, and he is in deep trouble with the Democrat Caucus. Tomorrow the Senate votes on them, and the 3 bills they came up with. I'm betting on a party line split and passage of all. Governor Hickenlooper has tapdanced around, but he will sign them all.

Even Democrats from rural counties who claim to be pro-gun to their constituents are voting for anything to disarm the people of Colorado. It is noted that Democrats from those counties are NOT having open forums back home. It is further noted by a lot of people that the Democrats are acting like they will never, ever have to worry about facing the voters again. Given the prevalence of vote fraud here, they may be right. 17 of our 64 counties have more people registered to vote than they have people of voting age.

Incidentally, it is just coming to light how the gun control bills interact to allow them to lie. Under one bill, pump action shotguns are statutorily defined as NOT being "Assault Weapons". In another, any firearm that is capable of being modified to hold more than 7 rounds is defined as an "Assault Weapon". ANY pump action shotgun is capable of having a tube extender increase the number of rounds carried. Thus, alll pump shotguns are "Assault Weapons".

One bill "grandfathers" weapons and components purchased before the the laws go into effect. Another requires that you have to show the police the original receipt when challenged or lose the weapons and be arrested. The author of the bill told my own state rep. from the well of the House that if he was stopped for a traffic violation and he was carrying firearms from the range; that if he did not have the original receipts on his person, he would be arrested.

The fees for background checks to purchase are interesting. They set them at a notational $10. And allowed the Executive Branch to adjust them as needed. There is talk of north of $150. And you have to legally do a background check if anyone but the owner handles the weapon. Literally, even on a firing range for instruction.

Unless they deem them to be an emergency measure taking effect immediately upon signature, they will take effect July 1. And at that point, things will get ..... interesting, and they will need those No Hesitation™ targets that the Department of Homeland Security just bought.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
According to Bernardine Dohrn, "Guns and grass are united in the youth underground."
http://www.antiauthoritarian.net/sds_wuo/weather/wuo_communique_1.txt
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What other rights do adult students surrender at the entrance to college campuses? Sex, abortion, religion, anti-religion, driving, drinking, speech, pot smoking (in CO),assembly, association, self-incrimination…and the list goes on?
Even if there is an answer to why this one right is under attack, it is illogical and inconsistent with the respect for other rights.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
WHY? I'll tell you why,you must have better boarder control,not against the poor Mexicans who only want a better life for their family, but against the eastern elite! They have swarmed your state of Colorado like KILLER BEES! You can have them,we don"t want them their too nuts for me.Welcome to the world of fiction.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are trying to argue using facts. The problem is - as has been demonstrated time and time again - liberal brains shut down when faced with facts. The only part of their brains that work is the emotional part so we must use the same emotional appeals that the libs use. Accuse them of being sexist, misogynistic women haters by denying women the right to defend themselves. (I've found this line of attack to be very effective)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They do this because they cannot visualize any "problem" that isn't cured by more and bigger government. Meanwhile, the psychotic felons will be able to go about their "business" without anyone to resist. What are students supposed to do when faced by an insane mass murderer? Throw their cell phone at them? Tell them to wait until the police arrive? Beg for their lives? The sad fact is that they (the government) no longer trust the citizens. My son attends college at CU Denver and says that there have been many cases of assaults and strong arm robberies that go virtually unreported. Do you think disarming students will make downtown Denver any safer. Think again. If the unthinkable happens, the legislature should be held accountable as accessories after the fact.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Is Anna Wintour introducing a kevlar line for the spring fashion season yet?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not to my knowledge. But knife proof vests are all the rage now in England for young teens. Parents are understandably worried about something has become an increasing problem there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
New Mexico has liberal gun laws but the Universities are still gun free zones.

Getting a concealed carry permit is still a process that requires classes and training and actually going through the process and paying the fees. By definition anyone who does what they need to do to conceal carry *legally* is a responsible, law abiding person. It would be far far easier to simply carry... because it's concealed and the whole point is no one knows about it. Right?

So a "gun free zone" on campus only restricts one very narrow category of gun owners... the ones that follow the rules.

I haven't decided yet if I will purchase a carry pistol and go through the licensing process. I haven't decided yet if, if I *do* get a carry pistol and a carry permit, if I will decide to break the law and carry on campus.

I'm an obsessive rule follower. But I might have night classes. I honestly can't say what I would do.

What I would like, though, is a way to know how to lobby to change the law so it's not ever a choice I have to make.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"because it's concealed and the whole point is no one knows about it. Right?"

Right...so I wouldn't bother with the "process". They'll only use it to come take it away...trust me they will. And all the whiners will lay them down too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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