23rd Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference
by Dave Workman
“There’s no such thing as an illegal gun, it’s the illegal carrier.”
Concealed carry on campus may be the new gun rights battleground, and nowhere have there been more efforts to educate than on college campuses across the United States, where chapters of the fledgling Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) have sprung up.
SCCC leaders Michael Guzman, Katie Kazprzak and Michael Fancher offered a detailed look at how far this group has come in the months since its launch on the day after the Virginia Tech massacre, and where it plans to go.
Guzman, from Texas State University, is president of SCCC. He told the audience that SCCC has grown to more than 300 chapters nationwide, with students at some 500 universities and colleges on the membership rolls. Acknowledging that many people think of the SCCC movement as “radical,” he said there is already a track record of carry on 11 college and university campuses.
“There hasn’t been a single reported case of violence committed by a concealed handgun license holder, so there’s already a case history of allowing concealed carry on campus,” he said. “There haven’t been the mass shoot-outs, there hasn’t been the drunken rampages or emotionally unstable students going and committing crimes. Those ‘what-if’ scenarios don’t play out.”
He confirmed that the gun ban lobby has portrayed this movement as trying to put guns in the hands of children. In Louisiana, for example, he said anti-gunners have misrepresented SCCC as a group of students paranoid about campus shootings.
In reality, according to Guzman, there is no proposal to create a new class of armed citizens. They merely want already-licensed and legally armed students and teachers to be able to carry defensive firearms on campus. Mass shootings on campus are rare, and what SCCC is more concerned about, he said, are the more typical crimes, such as rape, assault and robbery.
In addition to misinformation and a campus aversion toward firearms, Guzman is also concerned that in at least two states, Texas and Utah, open carry activists are either trying to piggyback onto the SCCC effort, or presenting their own proposals. That tends to confuse the SCCC issue “and I’m afraid they’re going to cancel each other out.”
The real problem here, however, is not with how firearms are carried, but with the traditional indoctrination of students beginning in Kindergarten that even if attacked, a youngster should not fight back. This zero tolerance policy punishes assault victims as much as the perpetrator.
“That’s how we indoctrinate our youth to adopt a victim-type mentality,” he stated.
Kasprzak, director of public relations for SCCC, provided an overview of SCCC activities to date, including a national conference held in Washington, DC, in August with support from the Second Amendment Foundation. There have been two “empty holster protests” involving students at campuses all over the nation, attending class with empty holsters on their hips, “in protest of state laws and campus policies that stack the odds in favor of criminals.”
Kasprzak illustrated the group’s rapid growth, noting that the first open holster protest in October 2007 involved students on 125 campuses, and the second protest, in April saw students on 600 campuses participating.
The national conference was televised on C-Span and it featured a debate between Lott and Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign. She lamented that Helmke has stereotyped SCCC members as “socially unstable, binge drinkers and drug abusers.” Also appearing at the conference were gun rights scholars Robert Cottroll, David Mustard and Joyce Lee Malcolm.
An opposition group, Students for Gun Free Schools, has formed and held an event in cooperation with the Brady group on the anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, she said.
Fancher, the Arizona State University chapter leader, reported that during the current semester, there had already been two reported armed robberies on his campus by late September.
“The reason I call them alleged armed robberies,” he said, “as what happens all too often, by the time police show up, the perpetrator is already gone. Now, the question I have is how many more defenseless students will we let be victimized?”
He said it took months before an SCCC chapter could be started at the ASU campus because no faculty member would step forward to be the advisor. Finally, someone did agree, and now the chapter is attracting new members.
Know Your Enemies
The next panel delved into identifying who the enemies of firearms civil rights are, and figuring out their targets. SAF President and Gun Week Executive Editor Joe Tartaro opened the discussion noting that gun control groups have enlisted the help of churches, and have started a new effort called “God, Not Guns.” This coalition is supported by the Brady Campaign and it has started an annual event called the God Not Guns Sabbath.
He noted the activities of Jesse Jackson and radical Catholic priest Michael Pfleger against Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale, IL outside of Chicago.
Tartaro recalled the shooting of a police officer in Buffalo, NY, a few years ago. The 19-year-old suspect had been arrested nine times for illegally carrying a handgun, without having served a day in jail.
“There’s no such thing as an illegal gun,” Tartaro stressed, “it’s the illegal carrier.”
But anti-gunners exploit cases like this to bolster their arguments for tighter gun restrictions, he indicated. Gun banners sponsor “gun buy-backs,” but Tartaro noted that this is a misnomer because “they never had the guns in the first place, so if they want to call it a buy-up that’s fine, but a buy back it isn’t.”
The veteran newsman also discussed how the British have made it virtually impossible for citizens to fight back against criminal attack, and he suggested that this is the same thing the United Nations wants to promote on a world scale. They amount to attacks on the right of self-preservation, and Tartaro warned that “you have to recognize that these attacks are coming.”
Following Tartaro to the microphone was conservative author and publisher John Longnecker. He said threats to America are already here, and he listed “homegrown activists” as part of that threat. These activists are spurred to action by “personal anxiety traumatized anger,” and a rage against “every single patriotic institution.”
“Three generations of broken homes in this country have yielded a whole new generation of angry people who are hair-trigger, waiting to be offended, and if they don’t join a street gang they are prime pickings to join the Left,” Longnecker stated. “And the way they are recruited is to speak to their anger and cultivate it.”
Predicting that 2009 is going to be “a fabulous year,” Longnecker quoted author Howard Nemerov, who has noted that “United States officials realize that the armed citizen stands in the way of big government.”
Longnecker said one reason for his optimism is the activity of conservative bloggers, using high speed Internet. He cautioned that a political shift will not be “changed overnight.”
Dr. Tim Wheeler, president of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO) , a project of the Claremont Institute, told the audience that the public health assault that began against gun ownership in the late 1980s and early 1990s is waning.
“This was because of the pro-gun rights community at large,” he declared. “DRGO and its predecessor got the message out.”
He said public opinion changes public policy.
“We won the battle but we have not won the long lasting struggle for gunowners’ rights,” he said.
Wheeler listed the names of several anti-gun medical groups that have ceased to exist.
“Handgun Epidemic Lowering Program, the HELP network, is dead, they are gone,” he said.
“Doctors Against Handgun Injury, they wanted to ban handgun ownership…the project doesn’t exist anymore. Physicians for a Violence Free Society…gone, they’re history.”
He warned, though, that there will be attempts to revive the ban on semi-automatics, and he said that the groups backing this sort of legislation “don’t recognize” the Heller decision.
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