Monday, October 12, 2015

GOP lawmakers seek to force concealed carry on state campuses

Despite evidence to the contrary, Rep. Kremer and Sen. LeMahieu continue to use tired NRA "logic"

Wisconsin lawmakers are proposing to force college campuses across the state to allow individuals with concealed carry permits to have weapons inside UW and technical college buildings.

Under a bill proposed by State Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) and State Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), state colleges could no longer post signs discouraging weapon-free buildings, and would have to allow guns in the hallways of campuses across the state.

“The unfortunate reality is that campus gun-free zones merely serve to concentrate populations of vulnerable targets on campus and surrounding areas,” say the lawmakers in a memo introducing the proposed bill.

Kremer and LeMahieu believe that the current policy -- of allowing each campus to provide its own framework of where weapons are allowed -- is failing students. In reality, these lawmakers are failing to realize that concealed carry doesn’t make things safer.

The statistics don’t lie: concealed carry doesn’t reduce crime, and there’s some evidence that suggests it may encourage more of it. According to one study:
“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder...
Whether gun-free zones lead to higher rates of attacks is another contentious opinion. Concealed carry proponents like to believe that mass shooters target gun-free zones, but in the past 30 years of research there’s been no indication that such areas were chosen on that basis. In reality, the shooters tend to pick areas that are significant to them (63 percent of active shooting sites between 2000 and 2013 were in areas the shooter had a relationship with, according to the FBI).

There’s no indication that concealed carry even works to fend off mass shootings, either. Concealed carry is allowed at all Oregon college campuses, for example, and indeed there was a concealed carry permit holder nearby when Umpqua Community College was attacked by a mass shooter earlier this month. That fact didn’t stop the shooter from killing nine individuals before taking his own life.

When Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and nineteen other individuals were shot by a mass shooter in Tuscon, Arizona, a concealed weapon nearly did more damage than good. A permit holder very nearly shot an innocent bystander, stopping only upon realizing that the man he had set his sights on was trying to stop the shooter as well.

But what about Wisconsin? Surely these few incidents aren’t indicative of how concealed carry works everywhere. Perhaps it works better here.

Sadly, concealed carry legislation, which was implemented in our state in late 2011, hasn’t produced the results it was promised to create. Upon signing the bill into law, Gov. Scott Walker pronounced that the state was now “safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.”

Since that time the rate of violent crime has gone up by 22 percent. Murder rates jumped by 20 percent. Put bluntly, the state was not made safer after concealed carry was passed.

We can’t be sure that the same results will be true of college campuses across our state. But there's no reason to believe that concealed carry will do any good either, especially since there haven’t been any real problems with the policies our colleges and universities have put forth. Kremer and LeMahieu are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist -- and conveniently, their “solution” to this non-problem greatly benefits the gun lobby.

When concealed carry was passed many proponents tried to quell fears by assuring those opposed to the law that businesses and institutions would not be forced to allow guns on their premises. It seems now that promise is being reneged upon, and that our institutes of higher learning will now be forced to allow guns inside their walls whether they want to or not.

This is the wrong path to take. Unfortunately, it’s also a path we’re doomed to follow, if the Republicans in our state legislature get their way.

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