The Dangerous Nature of HB 29

In the coming months, the Georgia House of Representatives will introduce a bill, HB 29, or the “Georgia Campus Carry Act of 2013.” The resolution would amend the Georgia State Constitution, which forbids concealed weapons in “a building that is occupied by a government entity,” to allow individuals at public and private colleges and universities to carry firearms.

In other words, guns at Emory.

This legislation, in the midst of the current gun control debate, demonstrates how far extremists in this country will go to “protect the right to bear arms.” That the 2012 elections yielded a new republican supermajority in the General Assembly suggests that this bill has a strong chance of passing.

On his website, the representative who drafted the legislation, Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw), wrote that “there is no more appropriate, and no more necessary, time to defend our liberties than when they are under attack!”

He went on to write, “If the principal [in Newtown, CT] had access to a gun that day, many lives could have been saved; or who knows, if Sandy Hook wasn’t a ‘gun-free zone,’ maybe Adam wouldn’t have even targeted the school.”

Let me get this straight. Mr. Gregory believes Adam Lanza went and massacred school children school because their school was a gun-free zone. So it was the school’s fault, or the parent’s fault or maybe Connecticut’s fault. But certainly, the senseless killings were not the fault of the mentally disabled man with an automatic weapon.

However, we, in the state of Georgia, will never be blamed for the death of innocent children because we will have guns in our schools.

Instead of proposing legislation to prevent massacres from happening, such as testing for mental illness before selling firearms, treating the mentally ill or, God forbid, an assault weapons ban, Mr. Gregory has introduced a resolution to start an arms race fueled by fear.

If Mr. Gregory’s legislation were merely meant to prevent another mass shooting on a college campus by an irrational actor, it would be misguided and wrong. Guns do not prevent insane people from massacring children; treatment for the mentally ill and restrictions on gun access do.

However, this resolution was introduced to combat all types of crime on campuses, not just mass murder. Thus, this legislation is beyond wrong — it’s dangerous.

Especially at schools like Georgia Tech and Georgia State, where on-campus crime is more prevalent than it is at Emory, all students are susceptible to some degree of crime. So, under Mr. Gregory’s logic, if a college student feels that he or she is vulnerable to armed robbery or other kinds of violence, he or she should get a gun.

But isn’t that why we, in Georgia, have police to protect students and a legal system where guilty criminals are punished in accordance with their crimes? Aren’t these institutions society’s means of combating undesirable activity?

However, even if we live in Mr. Gregory’s world and don’t believe police are an effective use of the public’s money or that laws are an effective means of deterrence, Mr. Gregory seems to ignore the fact that many of these potential new gun owners will be untrained to handle firearms or may have ulterior motives for obtaining them.

Additionally, Mr. Gregory does not understand that wider gun ownership will increase violence on college campuses. Increased gun ownership will create an incentive to use guns to carry out crimes. If a robber is planning on stealing someone’s money, while he used to be able to beat up his victim, he now has to account for the victim’s potential firearm by bringing his own. Thus, if we give Mr. Gregory the benefit of the doubt and say that crime rates would go down with mass gun ownership, the percentage of those crimes that would be violent would increase.

In today’s society, if citizens do not believe existing law enforcement agents adequately protect them, they should advocate for steeper deterrence (harsher penalties) and/or an increase in the police force. That might mean more guns, but at least we know, hypothetically, that the finger on the trigger will protect us.

HB 29 is dangerous because it, along with other extremist pro-gun legislation, proposes an alternate vision for American life. Mr. Gregory, by advocating a world where individuals protect their own rights with their own guns, must live in a Wild West fantasy, where citizens can only trust themselves to protect their lives and property.

However, humans have established governments and laws because life in Gregory’s armed dystopia would be nasty, brutish and short.

Thus, it is imperative that Emory students, either through the new “Emory Students Against Guns on Campus,” initiative or via their own means, fight this resolution by lobbying state government or raising awareness. The passage of Gregory’s gun legislation, rather than alleviating violence, would institute a society of constant fear, where no one will be safe.

Ben Leiner is a College junior from Baltimore, Md. 

  • ashleyschaffer

    This is an Onion article, right?

  • ChideIndefinitely

    Ben,

    In the great lengths you have gone to vilify law-abiding citizens and proponents of second amendment rights, you have spiraled into an integrity free-fall. Not only did you fail to properly examine the efficacy of the proposed legislation, your article has obvious inaccuracies that were for some reason not addressed. I’m not sure if it was due to negligence or lack of knowledge, but to assert that Adam Lanza used an automatic weapon (very distinct from a semi-automatic weapon) is simply incorrect. The editors at The Emory Wheel should feel embarrassed for letting that get published.

    Throughout most of the article, Ben, you were a pyromaniac in a field of straw men. You completely misinterpreted and misrepresented Mr. Gregory’s argument about gun-free zones, and instead chose to attack him based on the illogical notion that Mr. Gregory believes the Newton massacre was the fault of the school and parents. And just to point out, an overwhelming majority of the mass shootings that have occurred in the last 30 years took place in ostensibly gun-free zones. My statistics courses over the years have taught me to respect the boundary between correlation and causation, but at some point the two start to look alike. Adam Lanza woke up that day and chose not to commit mass murder at a firing range, but rather at a location where the probability that someone would be possessing a concealed firearm might have well been zero. Adam Lanza was a coward and killed himself at the first sign of law enforcement’s arrival. Imagine if someone armed had been there at the outset of the attack to at least give those children a fighting chance.

    If more gun-control and law enforcement are the answers to the problems associated with violent crime, why then does Chicago, a city notorious for its strict gun-control laws, have one of the highest crime and murder rates in the country? More law enforcement might certainly have some effect on crime-rates, but if you are a victim of a home invasion in the middle of the night are you really going to rely on the police to show up in a punctual manner and save the day. I’m not sure about you, but in that situation I’d trade a telephone for a 12 gauge any day of the week.

    You never explicitly say this in your article, but you make the implication that criminals will somehow abide by the current laws in place and choose not to bring a firearm to a potential robbery/rape/etc. if the campus is a gun-free zone. This is just stupid logic. A gun would increase their chances of success under either scenario. A gun-free zone is better for the criminal because it guarantees the target will helpless.

  • Shelby

    You may also want to consider the fact that kennesaw requires homeowners to carry guns and they have one of the fewest counts of home burglaries in the nation. You also negate the fact that laws are already being broken by these criminals, if stricter laws alone were enough to prevent these acts from occurring, well then they wouldn’t be happening. Consider this, by your theory guns do not prevent violence and do not stop or hinder criminals – then tell me why police men carry guns to protect our citizens?

    • Trevor

      The whole Kennesaw thing is not necessarily because people own guns. The crime rate was already falling when they passed that law. It also does not account for Kennesaw’s higher-than-average median income, and its aggressive zoning and city expansion that purposefully excludes lower-income neighborhoods.

      • Shelby

        Regardless of causation of correlation, it still refutes the point that allowing people the right to carry on campus will increase violence, because while we might not agree about whether kennesaw’s homeowner’s act was the reason for decreased violence, it certainly didn’t spark gun violence and cause the opposite. This trend can be seen across the nation where cities and states have stricter gun laws they have higher gun crime and where they have higher concealed permit carriers, lesser gun crime. The people who commit these horrendous crimes are not doing so at a whim, they are plotting and planning for months at a time – I cannot see reason as to why laws that restrict the rights of lawful citizens will deter the acts of Godless criminals.

  • Matt

    “by advocating a world where individuals protect their own rights with their own guns, must live in a Wild West fantasy, where citizens can only trust themselves to protect their lives and property.”

    Unfortunately this ‘Wild West fantasy’ is EXACTLY where we are, since it has already been decided in courts that the police ARE NOT responsible for anyone’s safety. If you choose to be a victim, so be it. I already know many combat veterans who now sit in the desks next to you who have made the decision that it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

    Just hope you’re never in a position where you have to thank them for breaking the law.

  • Davis

    I want to comment, but those above took the words right out of my mouth. Well put good sirs.

  • http://abcb.org David H

    A few falsehoods in your article.

    First, Adam Lanza did not have an automatic weapon. He had a semi-automatic weapon. Your ignorance of the facts surrounding firearms and the Newtown shooting is readily apparent.

    Second, when one is faced with being the victim of a violent crime, the police, at best, are minutes away. Shootings occur in a matter of seconds. There is truth is in saying, “When second count, the police are only minutes away.” What people like you don’t understand is that the impact of police on public safety is indirect. The police exist to enforce laws and investigate crimes. This means that the vast majority of the time their presence occurs AFTER the crime has occurred. The after-the-fact arrests made by the police do deter criminals to some extent, and as such make the streets safer, but that effect is the by-product of law enforcement, not their job description.

    It’s also quite insulting to suggest that, in the hands of a law abiding citizen who has a permit, that a firearm in their hands does not translate into protection. That is a terrible presumption to make.

    If the concern is a lack of training of people who may carry a firearm on campus, why is author not suggesting that permit holders be trained before being allowed on campus? Instead of suggesting that people be trained, he jumps straight to a ban. This is very telling of the author’s motives. He’s not interested in reducing the violent crime. He’s interested in justifying a gun ban. This is the inherent problem with articles written by gun control advocates. They aren’t based on the proposition that we must reduce violent crime. They are based on the proposition that we must ban guns.

    If the goal here is really to reduce violence, one has to be open to the possibility that allowing properly permitted citizens to carry on campus may reduce the violence. When that possibility is dismissed before the first word is typed, it is no longer an argument made with public safety in mind, but rather with a political agenda.

  • http://abcb.org David H

    As far as the idea that the criminals are more likely to bring guns to a robbery if a student might be armed, I will just say this. When you read the crime reports, they are already bringing guns to the crime.

    In addition, the faulty assumption that is made is that the criminal will target the same group of people whether or not he believes them to be armed. Criminals want to commit crimes when their success is more or less guaranteed. They only have to be shot once before their career may come to an end. Criminals do not purposely put themselves in situations where their chance of success is not overwhelming. That they may get the jump on a student who may be armed and have a relatively high success rate is besides the point.

    If you were faced with a decision that had a reward but also a 10% chance of you getting shot, would you do it? Of course not. Criminals are no different.

    If students could be armed, criminals are less likely to engage in crimes where they must confront a potentially armed victim. Rather, they are likely to turn to less risky crimes. In areas where gun ownership is high, criminals are more likely to commit crimes with no direct victims, such as breaking into unoccupied vehicles or other forms of petty theft. And for each criminal that changes their target from a student to an unoccupied car due to the risk, that is a very real reduction in violent crime.

  • http://gravatar.com/areslee12 areslee12

    I was going to comment on the fallacies in this article, but I think the commentors above took the words out of my mouth.
    However, I would like to point out that to get concealed carry, one must first pass training and a test, and that permit is only valid in certain states. The assumption that everyone will have a gun is not only hysterical and alarmist, it is preposterous. Only those who have proven themselves level-headed and dedicated enough will be able to carry one on their person.
    And as someone who was the almost-victim of a violent crime, I can tell you that only YOU, yourself, are responsible for your safety. I beat off my attacker myself…if I relied on anyone but me, I would not be typing this.
    Next time you choose to write of the opposing point of view (which is wonderful, by the way. We need both sides of the issue), please check your facts first.