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Gun Crazy: Firearms Proponents Want a World Where College Kids Carry Concealed Weapons

The NRA and Co. have pushed campaigns to allow concealed-weapons permits on college campuses in 15 states this year and failed in all of them.
 
 
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First the bad news: Despite its election day smackdown, the NRA and its pals soldier on in their mission to arm god-fearing Americans in ludicrous places. A flurry of news stories earlier this year reported a pioneering solution proposed to the rash of recent campus shootings: instead of redoubling efforts to enforce the whole "gun-free school zone" thing -- a quaint little notion from, like the 1980s -- why not change the rules to let students bring more guns onto college campuses?

A few answers leapt to mind -- binge drinking, drug use, close living quarters in a high-pressure environment -- but for awhile, it seemed like the idea was catching on. In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, in which 32 people were killed, several states began considering legislation to expand the right to carry a concealed weapon onto college campuses.

So what's the good news?

The legislation has been a dismal failure.

Despite all the media attention to the fight to extend concealed weapons onto college campuses, this end result has gone underreported. "In 2008, proponents of guns in the classroom have gone zero-for-fifteen with 'guns-on-campus' bills," the Brady Campaign reported this June, "failing in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington. Only two bills are still pending -- in Michigan and Ohio -- and neither has shown any sign of movement in the last two years. Only one state -- Utah -- has ever passed such a law."

The gun lobby is hardly declaring defeat, however. One thing it has to show for its efforts is a new generation of gun activists, who have formed a new group called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Spawned in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings, the apparently thriving organization is spreading the gun lobby's gospel of "self-defense," and arguing that under the banner of states' rights, students at public colleges and universities should be allowed to carry concealed weapons onto their campuses. "We don't feel that campus is some magical environment," SCC spokesman Michael Guzman told FOX News last year.

Magical or not, colleges have long been "gun free zones" for a simple reason: students should be able to go to school without fear of assault by a deadly weapon. It takes a pretty twisted brand of logic to believe that because horrific massacres sometimes do happen, the solution is to throw more guns at the problem. Yet that's precisely the fear-mongering argument of the pro-gun crowd, which has seized on such tragedies to advance their argument that public places prohibiting guns are intolerably dangerous and that filling them with guns is the best way to make them safer. Virginia Tech, according to this crowd, was just further proof that "gun free zones" -- whether they be schools, churches or bars -- are themselves tragically misdirected.

The term itself has been effectively maligned. Google "gun free zones" and you get hundreds of thousands of links to pages describing them as death zones. They are "reckless, negligent, and known to be dangerous," argues one. "When will those who pushed for gun-free zones realize that they are contributing to tragic situations?" asks another. And, a personal favorite, and delivered without a hint of irony: "An armed society is a polite society."

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SCCC -- whose website features a link to its Facebook page as well as a section featuring 15 different styles of t-shirts bearing the group's logo (a handgun wearing a graduation cap), in addition to clocks, tote bags, trucker hats a barbeque apron and underwear (the only women's option being a "classic thong") -- is clearly trying to make concealed weapons cool among the college set. And it seems to be working. As of November 29th, the young organization claims to have 35,000 members.