Letter to Editor: Gun Free Zones

This is an open-letter to the students, faculty, and staff of Lakeland College.

On November 1st, 2011, the state of Wisconsin passed a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) law that enabled anyone who attended a WI Department of Justice approved firearms training course and completed a background-check the ability to carry a concealed firearm.

Soon after this law was put into place, Lakeland College posted signs on the entrance-doors of all campus buildings stating “Firearms and weapons are prohibited on these premises. Any firearms or weapons must be locked in your motor vehicle.” In light of recent tragedies, I would like to bring attention to the potentially deadly hazard caused by this decision.

As the recent school, mall, and theater shootings have shown, “gun-free” zones simply do not work. Posting a sign will not prevent a potential mass-murderer from stepping foot inside a building with the intent to kill as many people as possible before taking his or her own life. By preventing the responsible people who have gone through the training and legal process of obtaining a CCW-permit the ability of defending themselves and others, Lakeland College has created a “defense-free” zone in lieu of a “gun-free” zone.

There are almost 160,000 CCW permit-holders in the state of Wisconsin alone, and almost 8 million nationwide. Are you wondering why these people haven’t been able to stop many mass-shootings? It’s due to the fact that almost every mass-shooting has been accomplished at a location that was a posted gun-free zone [1]. CCW Permit-holders are required by law to disarm themselves when entering these locations in most states.

One thing to remember is that the media in America generally only reports on the stories that will draw viewers in. When someone stops an attack or when a crime doesn’t occur, the media isn’t there to report it. If the media does choose to cover a “small” story, they certainly do not give it the same 24/7 coverage that a mass shooting would receive. For those of you who browse reddit, check out /r/dgu for examples posted daily of defensive gun usage in America.

Armed CCW permit-holders are able to stop mass shootings from becoming even worse when they are allowed to carry their concealed weapon. The recent attempted mass-shooting at a mall in Oregon where a CCW permit-holder’s actions ended the shooting is an example of this [2].

Another example of a recent instance of a crime prevented by a CCW permit-holder occurred at a high school in Detroit in February. A 70-year-old basketball coach was walking two female students to their cars, when two armed men attempted to rob the coach and the girls. The coach drew his firearm and shot both of the robbers [3].

A recent study by the CATO institute found that a Colorado college that allowed students to carry weapons saw a 60% reduction in overall crime on its campus, while another Colorado college that didn’t allow students carry concealed firearms saw a 15% increase in overall crime during the same time period [4].

Another thing to consider is the response-time of law enforcement. The average response-time for the police to arrive at Lakeland after receiving a 911-call is between five and seven minutes (it is between six and ten nationwide) [5]. Five minutes is plenty of time for even a novice shooter to be able fire several hundred rounds using almost any weapon, regardless of how many “military-like” features it has or doesn’t have, or how many rounds the magazine it uses can hold [6].

Think of it this way; when a shooting happens, peoples’ first instinct is to call for the police or, “the good guys with guns.” The police are generally minutes away when seconds count. Why would we not want a few armed men and women who would already be among us, ready to respond immediately?

One last factor for Lakeland College to consider when making the decision on whether or not to continue restricting individuals’ ability to defend themselves and others is liability. The Wisconsin CCW law grants immunity from liability to landowners who allow patrons and employees to defend themselves, but provides no such protection should anything happen on a premise that has signs posted restricting concealed carry [7].

For example, Lakeland could be held liable if there was ever a shooting or other violent crime on campus, in which a CCW permit-holder who would have normally had the ability to defend herself was unable to do so due to the signs Lakeland currently has posted.

Having a few armed students, faculty, and staff on campus who have demonstrated the maturity to receive specialized training, submit to a background check, and have gone through the other requirements to legally carry a concealed firearm, could potentially stop a shooter sooner than it would take for law enforcement to arrive, assess the situation, locate and confront the shooter, and stop him. Just knowing that people inside the buildings on campus might be armed could be enough to deter a troubled person from even attempting a shooting.

I believe I speak for many others on campus when I implore the college to reconsider their previous decision on restricting the ability of students, faculty, and staff from being allowed to defend themselves to only their vehicles and the campus grounds.

No one believes that tragedies such as Newtown will ever happen to them or their loved-ones, but sadly we live in a world where floods, house fires, car accidents, and even school shootings happen. Many people protect themselves from the first items I listed using various types of insurance, and I consider my investment in my firearm, training, and CCW license to be my insurance for the last item. I hope I never have to use any type of insurance, but I would certainly rather have insurance and never need to use it than to NOT have it and need it.

In closing, I submit this thought to you; do you think a mass-murderer would rather choose an easy, unarmed target, or one that could fight back? Remember, FEELING safe, and BEING safe are two very different things.

Josh Graminske

[Editor’s note: Graminske’s sources are available upon request].

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