Guest Commentary

Guest commentary: Worry over guns on Kansas campuses is misguided

Universities that ban guns on campus are missing out on the chance to educate students about safe firearm use, writes Derek Cox.
Universities that ban guns on campus are missing out on the chance to educate students about safe firearm use, writes Derek Cox. The Kansas City Star

In 2015, Kansas renewed the constitutional right to lawfully carry a firearm for self-defense purposes, and soon it will extend to university campuses. I’m not a Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal in this discussion, because it doesn’t matter. I’m an American citizen who believes we have the right to make our own choices. No matter your political views, we are all proud Americans who love our country.

After reading former professor Jacob Dorman’s May 11 Star guest commentary, “I resigned from KU to protest Kansas gun laws,” I thought it would be valuable to provide a student’s perspective.

When it comes to gun debates, it is common to hear about “heated discussions” in the classroom as a powder keg for violence. This is a classic red herring. If someone were so frustrated with classroom discussions that they were willing to commit violence, that person would find a way. Recent terrorist attacks in Europe prove that.

Dorman noted that “a gun stopped only one out of 1,119 sexual assaults in the National Crime Victimization Survey from 1992 to 2001.” I imagine that lone victim is glad to have had the option of a firearm that day. I’m willing to bet that in those instances where a firearm stops, prevents or deters a sexual assault, we will rarely hear about it. Incidents that don’t occur usually go unreported.

The fact is that firearm violence has declined drastically since 1993, according to the 2015 National Crime Victimization Survey. That rate sank from 7.3 per 1000 people to 1.1 per 1000 in 2015, with a 76 percent reporting rate.

While there is correlation between this decline and citizens taking their safety into their own hands, we can’t prove causation. What I can definitively tell you is that private citizens carrying firearms in defense has not driven up violent crime rates, as some will have you believe.

Universities are missing an opportunity to encourage firearms safety training and education. Instead, many elites such as Dorman want to ignore the violence in the world and leave college students defenseless.

I shop at the gas station across from campus with my firearm hidden from view because I am legally recognized as a law-abiding, responsible adult. Yet, somehow, as soon as I cross Anderson Avenue onto K-State’s campus grounds I am considered a violent, uncontrollable child who must be disarmed. That doesn’t make sense.

We go to college to learn to think critically, but we have professors and others who ignore the facts and fail to use basic logic skills when it comes to the Second Amendment. I hope Kansas will attract the minds who can challenge students and simultaneously see the logical fallacies of the anti-gun movement. I can only hope educated discussion continues.

And if you are reflexively against guns but have no experience with them, I encourage you to reach out to local trainers to learn more about firearms.

Not all college students can or should carry a firearm, but the few who choose to carry will do so with a professional attitude that will keep our campuses safe.

I fully support Kansas’ new campus carry law. I only wish it had been in place when I was a student.

Derek Cox, a Topeka native, is a recent graduate of Kansas State University. He served as an infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps.