Boise State University biology professor Greg Hampikian was trying to show his disgust with a law that’s gaining traction in his state that would allow students to carry concealed firearms on campus.
It was his attempt at satire, but I think it fell completely flat. His piece in the New York Times entitled “When May I Shoot a Student?” showed that he doesn’t understand the problems with gun control and the need for guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.
At present, the harshest penalty available here at Boise State is expulsion, used only for the most heinous crimes, like cheating on Scantron exams. But now that lethal force is an option, I need to know which infractions may be treated as de facto capital crimes.
I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?
If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?
He brings up the UK’s great success with gun control:
In terms of the campus murder rate — zero at present — I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Which is why encouraging guns on campus makes so much sense. Bad guys go where there are no guns, so by adding guns to campus, more bad guys will spend their year abroad in London. Britain has incredibly restrictive laws — their cops don’t even have guns! — and gun deaths there are a tiny fraction of what they are in America. It’s a perfect place for bad guys.
Whenever gun control fanactics talk about great the murder rate is in the U.K., they always have to qualify it by talking about the gun murder rate, because the overall violent crime rate there is very high, over twice that of the US’s. And even though they’ve completely outlawed guns, there are still those who find them and use them in crimes.
To answer his question about when he may shoot a student, I’d say that since he’s such a smart guy, he should know what self-defense is. If a “disgruntled” student comes in one day and starts going on a shooting spree, that would be his cue to shoot the student before he kills anyone else. Think Virginia Tech. Or Columbine. Or Sandy Hook.
Think about Amanda Collins, a student at the University of Nevada who was raped at gunpoint in a gun-free “safe zone” about 50 feet away from the campus police, whose office was closed at the time she was raped. She even had a concealed carry permit, but because of state law, she was forbidden to carry on campus. That rapist went on to rape other girls, and his third victim he killed.
This Idaho law is about those in Amanda Collins’ position. Those in Virginia Tech victims’ positions. Those in Sandy Hook victims’ position. If Professor Hampikian wants to make light of those victims, that’s his prerogative. But if he’s ever in a situation where a murderer is on a shooting rampage on campus, whether it’s a “disgruntled” student, a fellow professor, or someone completely random, the only thing he’ll be able to do is call the police, who will show up only after all the death and carnage is finished.