Home Commentary What’s Going On at Johns Hopkins University?

What’s Going On at Johns Hopkins University?

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In addition to opposing licensed, armed self-defense on college campuses, some gun control advocates take their opposition even further and oppose law enforcement being armed.

The troubled city of Baltimore has set new records for homicide, continued to fight racial tensions, changed police commissioners three times in five years, and is facing corruption scandals from both their mayor and the police department.

In a bid to protect the campus population of over 15,000 students and 4,500 faculty, Johns Hopkins University introduced a plan for a private, armed police force. (The college presently relies on a combination of off-duty Baltimore police officers and unarmed security.)

The change would require legislative approval from the Maryland General Assembly.

The move has been met with controversy, as 100 professors signed a letter of opposition, protestors branding themselves Students Against Private Police (SAPP) marched on JHU President Ronald J. Daniels’ house, as well as invading campus buildings and chaining doors. The protests culminated in 7 arrests.

“Nobody deserves to have the right to play God, to take someone’s life in such a brutal force and not be held accountable just because he or she wears a badge. It’s utterly ridiculous and unacceptable,” said protestor Tawanda Jones. The movement says a campus police force would lack accountability and threaten its student population, and JHU should shift its focus to strengthening social safety nets and improving inner-city education.

“I don’t want those people to have guns because I know who they would use them against – and that is me,” said Jamie Grace Alexander, a self-proclaimed representative of the Baltimore trans community.

Opponents are currently collecting signatures to prevent the measure from appearing on the 2020 ballot.

Strangely, an armed police force has seen public support from one of the staunchest proponents (and financiers) of the gun control movement – billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, a JHU alumnus and donor, called it “irrational” that the college doesn’t have their own security. “When you have a city that has the murder rate that Baltimore has, I think it’s ridiculous to think that they shouldn’t be armed,” Bloomberg told the Baltimore Sun.

While colleges have been increasing the presence of armed police officers in recent years, the presence of law enforcement on campus is hardly a guarantee against mass shootings. Even major universities often have only a few officers on the clock patrolling hundreds of acres of classrooms, dorms and facilities.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “A majority (92 percent) of public institutions used sworn officers, compared to 38 percent of private campuses. Nearly all sworn campus police officers were armed. Most sworn campus officers were authorized to use a sidearm (94 percent), chemical spray (94 percent) and a baton (93 percent). Nearly all campuses (95 percent) operated their own law enforcement agency.”

Students for Concealed Carry remains neutral on whether campuses should employ armed security. Responses to the unique threats of mass shootings are the responsibility of each college and state government, and we respect the weight and responsibility shouldered by law enforcement.

What is clear is that so-called “gun-free zones” enforced by signs alone amount to nothing more than a deadly illusion of security. Assuring psychopathic killers their victims are disarmed is a lure, not a deterrent. Among the many solutions on the table, threatening responsibly armed citizens with jail time and expulsion for wanting to defend themselves does not protect them. Gun free zones invariably make students less safe.

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David Burnett
David Burnett is currently pursuing his JD, and serves as a Media Coordinator for Students for Concealed Carry.

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