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Judge Rules Students for Concealed Carry Can Sue Ohio State University

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
media@concealedcampus.org

DATE: May 16, 2017

(Columbus, Ohio) – Last week Students for Concealed Carry Foundation, Inc. won a strategic victory in its lawsuit challenging The Ohio State University’s authority to ban lawful possession of firearms by students, faculty, staff, and other affiliates on its campuses.

Marion County Common Pleas Judge Jim Slagle ruled in the group’s favor in response to Ohio State’s motion to dismiss, affirming their legal standing to bring suit against the university.

Judge Slagle ruled that Michael Newbern, plaintiff, has standing as a continuing education student to challenge the student code of conduct and as a contract faculty member to challenge the Human Resources Policy, both of which broadly ban firearms on campus. A violation of either firearms ban carries heavy penalties.

“Expulsion from Ohio State for a firearms related incident carries severe consequences for a law-abiding student including an academic record blemish that can virtually guarantee the disciplined student may never earn an accredited degree.” Michael R. Moran, a Columbus attorney representing the plaintiffs said., “For the faculty member who’s devoted his or her life to academia, such a disciplinary action would be career ending.”

Students for Concealed Carry Foundation, joined by Ohioans for Concealed Carry, believes that Ohio State’s campus gun ban unlawfully infringes on fundamental constitutional rights. It also disarms students to and from campus, leaving them vulnerable to violent crime on their commute in what is historically a high crime area, the University District. While Ohio law permits a concealed handgun licensee to store a firearm in a motor vehicle on OSU’s campuses, a student could face administrative sanctions from the university including expulsion due to certain provisions in the Student Code of Conduct. Standing of both groups was also affirmed in Judge Slagle’s ruling.

“The Ohio Revised Code is clear that the legislature retains sole authority to regulate the possession of firearms.” Moran’s co-counsel Derek DeBrosse of Barney DeBrosse, LLC said. “Ohio State’s policies are in direct violation of the law. The law and the Constitution are clear; no person should have to choose between his or her right to selfdefense and education or career.”

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Derek A. DeBrosse, Esq., Barney DeBrosse, LLC can be reached at derek@barneydebrosse.com or 614.326.1919.

Michael R. Moran, Esq., Michael R. Moran Co., LPA can be reached at mrmoran@mrmoran.com or 614.476.6453.

Students for Concealed Carry Foundation, Inc. is a nationwide, non-partisan student organization founded to perform scholarly legal and public policy research, to educate the public concerning issues of civil liberties pertaining to firearms at postsecondary educational institutions through conferences and other media, and to engage in legal action when necessary to fulfill the objectives of the organization.

Ohioans for Concealed Carry, founded in 1999, is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the rights of all law-abiding gun owners in Ohio.

What ‘Rolling Stone’ Got Wrong About the “Fight Over Guns on Campus”

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AUSTIN, TEXAS – When Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) was approached last July by a young reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, we were skeptical. Rolling Stone is known for pandering to trendy views, not challenging them. However, the reporter promised that his article on the campus carry movement would be a long-form piece based on months of research, and we decided that not participating in the story would do more harm than participating.

After reading reporter Ben Wofford’s article “Inside the Fight Over Guns on Campus” (issue 1284, April 6, 2017, released March 24, 2017), we still believe we made the right decision; however, we’re not at all surprised to see that Wofford discarded most of what we said and twisted what little he didn’t discard. Here are a few of the things Rolling Stone and Ben Wofford get wrong or neglect to say about SCC and the campus carry movement, in the order that these errors and omissions appear in the article:

  1. Wofford quotes a University of Texas at Austin professor as saying, “I just hope someday the legislature allows guns to be carried into their offices.”

Wofford does not point out that, in reality, Texas legislators—like most employees of the State of Texas—are required by law to allow the licensed carry of handguns in their offices (in fact, unlike professors, legislators are required to allow both concealed and open—aka unconcealed—carry in their offices).

We know that Ben Wofford was aware of this fact because we sent him five different emails (July 13 and 19, 2016, and Jan. 8, 23, and 25, 2017) explaining this fact and because it is detailed in past press releases that we repeatedly made available to him.

 

  1. Wofford writes, “With few exceptions, the public overwhelmingly opposes guns on college campuses.”

He neglects to mention that one of those exceptions is Texas. There have been exactly three impartial, scientific polls on the subject since spring 2015. Two showed a statistical tie between Texas voters who support campus carry and those who oppose it (one poll found slightly more voters in support of campus carry, and the other found slightly more voters opposed to campus carry; however, the results of both were within the margins of error). The third poll found 51% of Texas voters supporting some measure of campus carry (with 25% supporting it everywhere and 26% supporting it in approved places) and only 37% opposing it altogether.

We know that Ben Wofford was aware of this fact because we sent him two emails (Jan. 9 and Feb. 8, 2017) explaining this fact.

 

  1. Wofford writes that there is “a discrepancy in Texas law that bars sex toys in public but not handguns on campus,” despite the fact that SCC demonstrated irrefutably that no such law exists.

We know that Wofford was aware that no such law exists because we sent him two emails (Sept. 15 and Oct. 11, 2016) explaining this fact.

 

  1. Despite having been there in person, Wofford fails to mention SCC’s response to the #CocksNotGlocks protest, which involved SCC members taking turns standing up at the protest, holding a sign of solidarity with the anti-campus carry protestors:

  1. Wofford writes, “[License to carry holder Nick] Rolland notes that a few armed civilians had fired up at [the 1966 University of Texas sniper].”

What Wofford fails to note is that survivors of that incident and law enforcement officers who responded to it credited those armed civilians with saving lives that day.

This fact was pointed out to Wofford in three carefully sourced and cited emails (July 28 and 29, 2016, and Feb. 13, 2017) from SCC.

  1. Writing about the national reaction to the first calls for campus carry that were made in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, Wofford writes, “[E]ven the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre disavowed the idea.”

We at SCC are not aware of any instance of LaPierre disavowing college campus carry in the aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. What Wofford appears to be referring to is LaPierre’s disavowing of guns at K-12 schools, in the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine massacre. This 1999 statement by LaPierre was covered in a 2013 article in Rolling Stone.

 

  1. Former SCC director Scott Lewis never told Wofford that the media exposure was “addictive.”

Lewis’ actual statement, which can be heard in an audio recording of the interview, was,

Unfortunately, the movement is harder to walk away from than you’d think. It kind of becomes an addiction. You get used to that rush—especially when you’re young and you realize that most of what you’ve done up to that point in your life has kind of been focused on yourself, and suddenly you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and you’re fighting for a cause you really believe in, and people are really listening to you—and that is addicting.

It’s clear from the audio recording that the comment was made not in reference to media attention but in reference to Lewis’ decision to return to SCC in 2010 to serve as Texas legislative director, after resigning from the national board of directors in 2008.

On March 11, a Rolling Stone fact-checker called Lewis to ask if he had ever said that the media attention was addicting. Lewis told the fact checker that he had not and provided the fact checker a transcript of the actual quote (which Lewis noted he’d copied from a recording of the interview). Despite the correction offered by Lewis, this out-of-context use of his words remains in the story.

 

  1. Wofford writes, “‘Why am I allowed to carry at a local movie theater, but not the campus theater?’ asks Lewis. ‘That’s the case we made.'”

This is the actual quote by Lewis:

One of the things that kept occurring to me as I was watching all this [news coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre] was I kept remembering the week before when I had gone to a play with my girlfriend at the time, who was—she was a theater major at Texas State University, and I had gone to a play with her at Texas State. And I distinctly remembered locking my gun in the vault of my car and thinking how silly it was that if I went to a community theater play in San Marcos, I could carry my gun. If I went to the local movie theater in San Marcos, I could carry my gun. But I was having to lock it up to go into a play on a university campus, and that just seemed like a silly inconsistency in the law. I didn’t think a lot about it at that time. I just remember thinking how kind of out of step that was with how the gun laws worked throughout the rest of the state. And, anyway, as I was watching the Virginia Tech news coverage, I thought back to the week before when I went to that play, and I just remember thinking, “That could have been me. What would the end result have been if somebody had started shooting in that theater? Would I have died thinking about my handgun that was locked in the car a hundred yards away, or would I have survived to tell my girlfriend’s mother how her daughter died in my arms or something like that?” I couldn’t think of any scenario that would play out that would be as favorable as me having the handgun I carried every day and being able to at least have a fighting chance.

[six minutes of conversation about SCC’s growth between the time of the Virginia Tech massacre and the massacre at Northern Illinois University]

We had a pretty disciplined message where we kind of eschewed the typical gun-rights talking points about “God-given rights” and  infringement on the Second Amendment and stuff like that. And we just tried to make the pragmatic case that this is a natural extension of what’s allowed everywhere else. We kind of made the case that I was making to myself the day of the Virginia Tech shooting, when I was thinking about a week before when I went to that play, when I was thinking, “Why am I allowed to carry at the municipal theater and the local movie theater but not in the campus theater?” And that’s kind of the case we made. We said, “Why are you letting these people have the means to defend themselves pretty much everywhere else they go but not here?”

 

  1. Wofford writes, “SAF’s founder, Alan Gottlieb, who is 69, hosted some of the SCC members at a 2007 conference outside Cincinnati.”

This statement is not inaccurate; however, in light of past accusations that SCC is secretly funded by the Second Amendment Foundation, a little context is necessary: A Cincinnati-based member of SCC’s original four-person board of directors was invited to give a short (approx. 10-min.) speech at the Cincinnati-based conference. In other words, SAF “hosted” a local student by providing him with a 10-minute speaking block at a free-to-attend conference taking place in his home city.

 

  1. Wofford writes, “[In 2009, SCC] lost its first battle in Texas — outflanked by opponents at UT, led by grad student John Woods, who had lost his girlfriend in the Virginia Tech shooting.”

Although it’s true that Texas’ campus carry bill failed in 2009, the suggestion that the loss was due to SCC being “outflanked by opponents at UT” is at best a partial truth and at worst a bit of creative writing on the part of Wofford.

Texas’ 2009 campus carry bill was authored by 13 of 31 Texas senators (including two prominent Democrats) and 75 of 150 Texas representatives (including several Democrats). It passed out of the Senate with the support of 20 of 31 senators, including four prominent Democrats.

The bill didn’t reach the House Calendars Committee (responsible for scheduling House floor votes) until one day after House Democrats began filibustering (through a technique known as “chubbing”) an unrelated Voter I.D. bill. When it became clear that the filibuster would last the next three days (until the voting deadline) and kill all pending legislation, the House Calendars Committee declined to schedule any more bills for votes, and the campus carry bill died.

One can argue that perhaps the bill would have passed out of the Senate sooner if not for the efforts of John Woods and his supporters at UT-Austin, but to give them full credit for the defeat of a bill that passed out of the Senate by an almost two-thirds majority, that had half of the House signed on as coauthors, and that ultimately fell victim to an unrelated filibuster is more than a little disingenuous.

 

  1. Wofford writes, “By the time Lewis’ efforts in Texas paid off last year — after three failed attempts — the NRA was calling the legislation ‘NRA-backed campus carry.'”

This raises two issues, the least significant of which is: Why is Wofford still talking about Lewis, whose last leadership role with SCC ended four years before the 2015 passage of Texas’ campus carry law? Wofford interviewed a half-dozen other SCC leaders, past and present, each for hours at a time, so why did only one make it into this story that is supposed to provide an “inside look” at the campus carry movement?

For that matter, why is there only one quote from John Woods and nothing from Colin Goddard, the two pillars of the anti-campus carry movement during the era that Lewis was active? What exactly does this story purport to provide an inside look at?

More significantly, Wofford is going out of his way to suggest that the NRA arrived late to the party and then pretended it was their idea all along. In reality, all of the campus carry bills considered by the Texas Legislature were backed by the NRA. This fact is easily verified by reviewing committee testimony from past sessions.

Lewis sent Wofford detailed information on the NRA’s support for campus carry, dating back to Jan. 2008, and, in an email dated Sep. 6, 2016, told Wofford, “[T]he NRA and their Texas affiliate the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) were by far SCC’s biggest allies in Texas. Aside from SCC, they were the only gun rights groups on the ground at the Texas Capitol, actively lobbying for campus carry bills.”

 

  1. Wofford writes, “No one, not even police, can ask students if they’re armed.”

On the contrary, a police officer can not only ask a student if he or she is armed; a police officer can also disarm the student if the officer feels unsafe during the interaction.

 

  1. Wofford writes, “But there are about 43 firearm accidents every day across this country, a statistic borne out at a handful of campus-carry universities. In 2011, at UT Austin, a fraternity brother was arrested for firing his rifle inside the house’s laundry room.”

There are four problems with this statement:

  • In 2011, UT-Austin was not a campus-carry university.
  • Texas’ campus carry law does not apply to rifles.
  • Texas’ campus carry law does not apply to fraternity houses.
  • The fraternity brother was arrested for firing the rifle at people, not on accident.

 

  1. Wofford writes, “Harvard researchers have found that students who keep guns are more prone to impulsive decision-making and dangerous habits, like drunk driving.”

He neglects to mention that this study looked primarily at students who keep guns illegally and, statistically speaking, looked at few if any license to carry holders.

This fact is featured prominently on the “Commons Arguments” page of SCC’s website.

 

  1. Wofford writes about the “growing paranoia” on the UT-Austin campus but fails to mention that virtually every in-state news article written about Texas’ campus carry law since September of last year has been about how fears are rapidly subsiding.

EXAMPLES:

“Campus carry unrest fades in Texas” – The Houston Chronicle – Feb. 18, 2017
“WT transitions smoothly to first semester of campus carry” – Amarillo Globe-News – Dec. 19, 2016
“No gun related incidents reported at UTEP since SB11 went into effect” – KFOX 14 – Oct. 24, 2016
“Midwestern State encouraged by early results of campus carry policy” – KAUZ – Oct. 19, 2016
“Campus carry off to quiet start” – Denton Record-Chronicle – Oct. 15, 2016
“The Beginning of Campus Carry: As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed” – Study Breaks – Sept. 21, 2016

 

  1. Wofford writes that some people have concerns about what happens if an armed students hears gunshots coming from a building and “runs inside, only to confront another armed student responder.” He neglects to mention that SCC pointed out to him in six different emails (July 25, July 28, July 29, and Aug. 2. 2016, and Jan. 9 and Feb. 13, 2017) that license to carry holders are taught not to seek out a shooter or attempt to interdict a crime that does not already involve them.

 

  1. Wofford refers to a 2009 experiment that purported to demonstrate that an armed student could not stop an active shooter, as, “an experiment run by the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, police department.”In reality, the experiment was designed and hosted by the ABC television show 20/20, with the help of the Bethlehem, Pa., police department.

The experiment had numerous flaws, most notable of which are the fact that not one of the student participants was licensed to carry a handgun (only one had ever fired a handgun prior to that day) and the fact that the person portraying the gunman was a seasoned SWAT officer and instructor who not only knew he would face an armed student in each classroom but knew which student would be armed and where that student would be sitting. The fact that this “experiment” was less a recreation of an active-shooter incident than of a targeted assassination may explain why, as Wofford puts it, “[T]he armed students were consistently mowed down in seconds.” In real mass shootings, people have spent minutes hiding under desks or talking to 911 operators before finally being shot.

It should be noted that the “Common Arguments” page of SCC’s website (which one would think Wofford would have looked at during the nine months he spent researching this story) links to a lengthy deconstruction of and rebuttal to this experiment.

 

  1. Wofford points to an FBI/ALERRT study that found just five active-shooter incidents stopped by armed citizens but 21 stopped by unarmed citizens. He neglects to mention that 11 of the 21 shootings stopped by unarmed citizens took place in schools, where firearms were statutorily prohibited.

This fact was explained to Wofford in an email sent to him on Oct. 27, 2016.

Not all of Wofford’s errors suggest bias; some just suggest shoddy reporting.

  1. Wofford writes, “But in 2013, [Texas] reduced its [license to carry] training requirement from six hours to four.”

In reality, the state reduced its training requirement from ten hours, including the shooting test, to four hours, not including the shooting test, effectively cutting the total course time in half (from ten hours to approximately five hours).

 

  1. Wofford writes, “A well-known loophole allows Texas citizens to get a license after viewing a 30-minute YouTube video and parting with $19.99.”

This is not necessarily inaccurate (we can’t confirm the length of the video or the cost), but it gives the impression that Texas citizens can obtain a Texas license this way. The loophole Wofford refers to allows a citizen of any state to obtain a Virginia license.

 

  1. In attempting to suggest that campus carry immediately led to a spate of problems, Wofford writes, “That [first] week, a 21-year-old student flashed his gun in the Perry-Castaneda Library, a clear violation.”

What Wofford fails to mention is that the student flashed his gun to just one person—a reporter who asked to take a picture of it for a story on campus carry—and that other people only found out because the story appeared in The New York Times.

 

  1. In writing about the accidental or negligent discharge of a handgun in a dorm room at Tarleton State University, Wofford writes, “SCC, which had previously rebutted its opponents for failing to provide evidence of misfires, rushed a press release attributing the event to a “period of adjustment.”

In reality, SCC has always been very open about the three or four (depending on whether you count an incident involving a police cadet) previous accidental discharges at campus-carry colleges, and SCC was very open about this one.

An archive of the SCC website from Jan. 8, 2015 (five days before the Texas Legislature convened for the session in which they ultimately passed the state’s campus carry law), includes this statement:

Among the more than 150 college campuses that currently allow concealed carry, there have been three accidental/negligent discharges—two by faculty/staff and one by a student. Two of the negligent discharges were the result of the license holder carrying the gun in a pants pocket without a holster (both of these incidents resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to the license holder’s leg), and one was the result of the license holder showing a new gun—a gun with which she was not yet familiar—to her coworkers (this incident resulted in only minor abrasions that did not require medical attention). All three of these incidents could have been avoided through proper training and/or the implementation of appropriate policies (e.g., allowing colleges to require that licensed students, faculty, and staff keep handguns holstered or cased at all times) that do not restrict the ability of license holders to carry concealed handguns for personal protection.

A quick glance at CDC data from 2007 (the last year for which records are available) reveals that individuals between the ages of 21 and 24, the age group most likely to carry concealed handguns on a college campus, accounted for fewer than 70 fatal gun accidents that year, nationwide. And based on consistent trends, it’s fair to assume that most (approximately 80%) of those were either hunting accidents or incidents of someone mishandling a firearm in the home. It’s highly doubtful that even one of those incidents was related to licensed concealed carry.

From 1996-2007, the State of Texas had 1,754 convictions for ‘discharge of a firearm.’ Only three of those convictions were of license holders, and it’s not certain if any of those three convictions were related to concealed carry.

Because the trigger of a properly holstered firearm is not exposed, because modern firearms are designed not to discharge if dropped, and because an applicant for a CHL must (in most states) pass a training course covering firearm safety, accidental discharges among concealed handgun license holder are extremely rare and represent, at worst, a statistically negligible risk. SCC feels that it is wrong to deny citizens a right simply because that right is accompanied by a minor risk.

 

  1. After opening his article by declaring, “More than 200 colleges across the U.S. allow campus carry,” Wofford concludes it without ever telling the reader whether any of those colleges have reported a resulting assault, suicide attempt, or fatality.

After nine months of researching this issue, Ben Wofford knows full well that no such incidents have been reported.

Reached for comment on this inaccurate and highly misleading story, former SCC board member Scott Lewis commented, “I wish I could say I’m surprised that the article turned out to be a hatchet job, but there is a reason I recorded my end of the interview. Publications like Rolling Stone don’t sell copies by challenging their target audiences’ preconceived notions with insightful looks at complex issues; they sell copies by inflaming their audiences’ existing prejudices. Making the audience think, ‘I never thought about it that way,’ doesn’t sell ad space; making the audience think, ‘I can’t believe some people are so stupid,’ does.”

UPDATE: For the online edition of the Rolling Stone article, the author and/or editors added notes addressing points number 1, 2, and 17 from SCC’s list of errors and omissions and corrected points number 12 and 19. The other 18 points remain unaddressed.

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. SCC is a pioneer in the field of long-form press releases. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com or tweet @CampusCarry.

 

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Mar. 16, 2017, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-March-16-2017

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

Texas State University Student Senate Requests Expanded Campus Carry

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AUSTIN, TEXAS – On Monday, February 20, the Texas State University Student Senate passed S.R. 2016-2017.14, “A Resolution to Allow Campus Wide Concealed Carry,” on a vote of 27 to 5. This resolution, which asks university administrators to repeal the institution’s current restrictions on campus carry, will now go to the student body president, who will decide whether to sign or veto it.

Texas State University already has some of the least-restrictive campus carry restrictions in the state. Brian Bensimon, Southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry, commented, “The fact that the Texas State University student government voted so overwhelmingly in support of broader campus carry rights speaks to the fact that campus carry is rapidly gaining acceptance among Texas college students.”

2017 Texas State University Campus Carry Resolution

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com or tweet @CampusCarry.

 

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Feb. 20, 2017, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Feb-20-2017

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

 

RECENT NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT CAMPUS CARRY IN TEXAS:

“Campus carry unrest fades in Texas” – The Houston Chronicle – Feb. 18, 2017

“WT transitions smoothly to first semester of campus carry” – Amarillo Globe-News – Dec. 19, 2016

“No gun related incidents reported at UTEP since SB11 went into effect” – KFOX 14 – Oct. 24, 2016

“Midwestern State encouraged by early results of campus carry policy” – KAUZ – Oct. 19, 2016

“Campus carry off to quiet start” – Denton Record-Chronicle – Oct. 15, 2016

“The Beginning of Campus Carry: As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed” – Study Breaks – Sept. 21, 2016

Associated Press, Austin Media Miss Opportunity to Dig Into Campus Carry Stats

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AUSTIN, TEXAS – On the first day of any college statistics class, students are taught a simple principle: Correlation does not equal causation. The understanding that one event preceding another is not the same as one event causing another is considered sacred by scientists but sometimes forgotten by journalists. When a journalist for The Houston Chronicle reported that there have been three gun discharges on Texas public college campuses during the past six months, she was careful to note, “Just one had a connection to the new campus carry law.” However, when the Associated Press picked up the story, this not insignificant detail was omitted.

This is how the AP story ends: “A Houston Chronicle review of university records plus interviews found three firearm discharges on public college campuses, in the first six months of the law. The incidents were at the University of Houston, Tarleton State and Texas Tech.”

If one of your politically idealistic friends made a Facebook post claiming, “There have been hundreds of hate crimes in America since Trump took office,” or, “There have been dozens of sexual assaults in Austin since the Travis County sheriff instituted a ‘sanctuary city’ policy,” you’d likely stop to ask yourself how many of those crimes actually had any connection to the event cited by your friend. However, if the Associated Press tells you that there have been “three firearm discharges on public college campuses, in the first six months of the [campus carry] law,” you’re not being unreasonable if you assume that all three were related to the campus carry law. However, as noted by The Houston Chronicle, evidence ties only one of those discharges—the most minor of the three—to Texas’ campus carry law.

As previously reported by Students for Concealed Carry, a license to carry (LTC) holder experienced an accidental or negligent discharge on September 24, in his dorm room at Tarleton State University. The incident resulted in minor damage to the room but no injuries. This incident is unfortunate but not damning. When opponents lined up to testify against Texas Senate Bill 11, they didn’t warn state lawmakers and university officials that there would be damage to floor tiles; they warned that people would be injured and killed. That hasn’t happened.

On most college campuses, a dorm room is the only location with even a moderate risk of an accidental or negligent discharge. Such incidents generally occur during the handling of an unholstered handgun, and—with the exception of campuses that require LTC holders to unload their guns before entering buildings—the only place on campus where an LTC holder might have reason to handle an unholstered handgun is in a dorm room*.

The second incident uncovered by the Chronicle has no apparent ties to campus carry. At approximately 1:30 AM onSept. 29, police responded to a report of somebody firing three shots on a public road that runs through Texas Tech University. No injuries or property damage were reported, and no suspects have been arrested. Not only is there no evidence tying this purported crime to Texas’ campus carry law; the incident didn’t occur in an area affected by the law. Even prior to the enactment of SB 11, licensed concealed carry was allowed on the public streets and sidewalks running through Texas college campuses, and unlicensed concealed carry was allowed in cars passing through campus.

As for the third incident—a suicide at a hotel located on the University of Houston campus—you can decide for yourself whether the law allowing licensed concealed carry at Texas colleges is to blame: After months of writing about suicide on social media, a UH alumnus purchased a firearm from a Houston sporting goods store and checked in to an on-campus hotel where he used to work. He then spent a short while making a series of social media posts explaining his decision to take his own life, telling loved ones where to find his body, and instructing that he should be cremated. He also criticized the sporting goods store where he purchased the gun, saying that the purchase was too easy and that the company should stop selling firearms. When he’d said all that he had to say, he shot and killed himself.

For as long as anybody can remember, there have been shootings on and near Texas college campuses. However, before the campus carry law went into effect, there was no boogeyman to point to as the assumed culprit. If the AP’s goal was to examine the impact of the new law, they could have compared the number of shooting incidents during the first semester of campus carry to the numbers in previous semesters. Better still, they could have dug into the facts of the shootings in question (as The Houston Chronicle did), before insinuating that campus carry was involved.

The Associated Press wasn’t the only news outlet to present a misleading perspective on this issue. When Fox 7 News in Austin carried the AP story, they used the “three firearm discharges on public college campuses” line to caption the story on Facebook:

And when Fox 7 aired a short segment on the AP story’s main focus—the University of Texas graduate students who insist on holding office hours in gun-free bars—they trimmed SCC Southwest Regional Director Brian Bensimon’s comments to omit both Bensimon’s mention of a scientific study finding that young people are far more likely to be victimized in or near a bar and his reference to statistics showing that Texas license to carry holders are far less likely than their unlicensed peers to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. This inexplicable omission created the impression that Bensimon was merely stating a personal opinion when he argued that holding office hours in bars places students and faculty at greater risk.

With regard to the misleading nature of the AP and Fox 7 stories, Bensimon commented:

I have a lot of respect for the news media, as does everyone at SCC, but we have a duty to our organization and our cause to set the record straight whenever the issue is covered in a way that is inaccurate or misleading. This isn’t about “fake news” or media bias; it’s about journalists looking for the simplest or sexiest approach to covering a complex, unsexy issue. Narrative-building is an appropriate and necessary part of contemporary journalism, and reporting will always amount to more than just stenography, but it’s crucial that stories not omit important facts, even if including those facts diminishes narrative appeal.

*An LTC holder living in on-campus housing would likely need to unload his or her gun from time to time, either to secure it (e.g., if preparing to place the gun in checked baggage for air travel) or to perform routine maintenance on it.

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com or tweet @CampusCarry.

 

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Feb. 19, 2017, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Feb-19-2017

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

 

RECENT NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT CAMPUS CARRY IN TEXAS:

“Campus carry unrest fades in Texas” – The Houston Chronicle – Feb. 18, 2017

“WT transitions smoothly to first semester of campus carry” – Amarillo Globe-News – Dec. 19, 2016

“No gun related incidents reported at UTEP since SB11 went into effect” – KFOX 14 – Oct. 24, 2016

“Midwestern State encouraged by early results of campus carry policy” – KAUZ – Oct. 19, 2016

“Campus carry off to quiet start” – Denton Record-Chronicle – Oct. 15, 2016

“The Beginning of Campus Carry: As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed” – Study Breaks – Sept. 21, 2016

PBS Produces Anti-Campus Carry Propaganda to Accompany ‘Tower’ Documentary

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AUSTIN, TEXAS – If you were producing a short documentary about Texas’ campus carry law, wouldn’t you want the input of the student-led organization that started the campus carry movement, solicited the support of both the National Rifle Association and its state affiliates, and popularized the phrasecampus carry“? This apparently wasn’t a priority for PBS when it produced the short documentary “Guns on Campus” to accompany the network’s upcoming broadcast of “Tower,” the award-winning feature-length documentary about the 1966 sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin.

Producer/director Joanne Elgart Jennings waited until she was at the airport, on her way to Texas, before reaching out to the Texas chapter of Students for Concealed Carry. SCC Southwest Regional Director Brian Bensimon was eager to speak to Jennings about his organization’s positions and activism, but Jennings refused to interview Bensimon for the documentary unless he agreed to let her film him showing off a gun in his apartment. Bensimon explained that SCC has a strict policy against representatives displaying their handguns to the media, but Jennings refused to budge, and SCC was excluded from PBS’s documentary about the issue SCC created.

Now PBS is promoting a campus carry documentary that, despite offering brief clips of a couple of campus carry supporters, offers no insight into either the campus carry movement or the arguments that got a campus carry law passed in the Lone Star State. The documentary does, however, include an interview with one of the leaders of UT-Austin’s anti-campus carry movement.

The documentary also includes an interview with a UT-Austin professor who—in stark contrast to most media reports—claims that campus carry “makes it really hard for [professors] to do [their] job as instructors” because it has “introduced a level of tension, or wariness, into the classroom setting.” At no point during the documentary does this professor mention that she is one of three professors who filed suit a full month before the law took effect, seeking to block it.

This five-minute hit piece by PBS also includes a short interview with Ramiro Martinez, a retired Austin police officer who was one of two officers who shot and killed the perpetrator of the 1966 University of Texas sniper attack. The piece includes a clip of Martinez speculating about how dangerous it would have been if, during the 96-minute shooting spree, he had encountered an armed citizen who was also looking for the shooter—something license to carry holders are trained not to do.

The piece neglects to mention that Martinez retired from law enforcement five years before Texas’ concealed carry law took effect and that he has no experience as a law enforcement officer in a state where the licensed, concealed carry of handguns is allowed. It also neglects to mention that Martinez’s 2005 autobiography states, “I was and am still upset that more recognition has not been given to the citizens who pulled out their hunting rifles and returned the sniper’s fire. The City of Austin and the State of Texas should be forever thankful and grateful to them because of the many lives they saved that day.”

Michael Newbern, assistant director of public relations for SCC, commented, “How does someone produce a documentary on Texas’ campus carry law and not involve the group responsible for virtually every pro-campus carry op-ed published in Texas during the past decade? How do they not include the one group that ran a TV commercial supporting passage of the campus carry bill? It’s as if the film’s producers had no interest in the individuals and arguments that got the law passed in the first place.”

Bensimon, the SCC director who took the call from the documentary’s producer/director, explained his feelings on the matter:

When Ms. Jennings called, she left a voice mail stating that she was doing a story about “open carry on the UT campus” and that she planned on filming an “open carry class” and wanted to talk to “gun owners who can make the case that civilians who are trained and armed can assist law enforcement.”

The fact that she referenced gun owners rather than to license to carry holders gave me pause. There is a big difference between someone who simply buys a gun and someone who goes through the training, testing, and vetting required to obtain a Texas license to carry.

Also, the fact that she clearly didn’t understand the difference between open carry, which remains illegal on Texas college campuses, and concealed carry, which is what the Texas Legislature voted to allow on college campuses, made me think she hadn’t done much homework before embarking on her trip to Texas.

I was further concerned by the fact that she wanted someone to defend the argument that gun owners can “assist law enforcement ,” which was not one of the arguments behind the passage of Texas’ campus carry law—a law that is about personal protection, not campus protection, that is about allowing licensed individuals on campus their usual means of self-defense, not about creating amateur security guards.

Given Ms. Jennings’ fundamental misunderstandings of the issue, I thought SCC would have a lot to contribute to her project. But when I returned her call, she was only interested in finding somebody to add controversy or sex appeal or whatever she thought showing a student with a gun added to her film.

###

ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

 

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Feb. 8, 2017, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Feb-8-2017

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

 

RECENT NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT CAMPUS CARRY IN TEXAS:

“WT transitions smoothly to first semester of campus carry” – Amarillo Globe-News – Dec. 19, 2016

“No gun related incidents reported at UTEP since SB11 went into effect” – KFOX 14 – Oct. 24, 2016

“Midwestern State encouraged by early results of campus carry policy” – KAUZ – Oct. 19, 2016

“Campus carry off to quiet start” – Denton Record-Chronicle – Oct. 15, 2016

“The Beginning of Campus Carry: As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed” – Study Breaks – Sept. 21, 2016

Latest Texas Statistics Bolster Case for Campus Carry

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flickr/raymondclarkeimages CC BY-NC 2.0

AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Texas Department of Public Safety has released its 2016 demographic data on Texas license to carry (LTC) holders, and for the third consecutive year, LTC holders of typical college age had their licenses revoked at a lower rate than did LTC holders twenty years older.

Here are the statistics collected by Students for Concealed Carry since SCC first started monitoring this data in 2015:

AGE GROUP

18* to 23 years old 21 to 23 years old 38 to 43 years old

2014 REVOCATION RATE

0.189% 0.186% 0.196%
2015 REVOCATION RATE 0.147% 0.150%

0.155%

2016 REVOCATION RATE 0.118% 0.120%

0.160%

*A person age 18-20 can obtain a Texas LTC only if he or she is a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Brian Bensimon, SCC’s Southwest regional director, commented, “Our opponents often claim that, because the average college student is much younger than the average license to carry holder, the statistics showing LTC holders to be responsible and law-abiding aren’t relevant to the debate over campus carry. However, this data from the Texas Department of Public Safety clearly shows that college-age license holders are just as law-abiding as their older counterparts.”

The Texas DPS statistics also show a continuing decline in the rate of revocations among young LTC holders. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that the number of licenses issued to college-age applicants in 2016 represents a 66 percent increase from the year before. More Texans of typical college age are licensed to carry handguns than ever before, yet the rate of revocations among that age group is on the decline.

Mike Newbern, assistant director of public relations, suggested that the surge in young people getting licensed to carry contradicts recent claims that millennials aren’t interested in licensed concealed carry.

“It’s true that license applications are up across all age groups,” said Newbern, “but the fact that, over the past three years, the college-age demographic has seen an average annual increase 10 percent higher than the middle-age demographic typically associated with concealed carry suggests that maybe some of the surveys and man-on-the-street interviews touted by our opponents are no more accurate than were the polling data that mispredicted the recent presidential election.”

Newbern continued, “Most college campuses are notoriously hostile toward campus carry, so it stands to reason that the students, faculty, and staff who support it may be hesitant to make their voices heard. However, the fact that college-age Texans are getting licensed to carry in record numbers suggests that this group is interested in being able to protect themselves.”

###

ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Jan. 26, 2017, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Jan-26-2017

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

RECENT NEWS ARTICLES ABOUT CAMPUS CARRY IN TEXAS:

“WT transitions smoothly to first semester of campus carry” – Amarillo Globe-News – Dec. 19, 2016

“No gun related incidents reported at UTEP since SB11 went into effect” – KFOX 14 – Oct. 24, 2016

“Midwestern State encouraged by early results of campus carry policy” – KAUZ – Oct. 19, 2016

“Campus carry off to quiet start” – Denton Record-Chronicle – Oct. 15, 2016

“The Beginning of Campus Carry: As a Texas student affected by the law, I never would’ve imagined how much my opinion has changed” – Study Breaks – Sept. 21, 2016

Johns Hopkins Report on Campus Carry Is Seriously Flawed

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An October 15 report by Daniel W. Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, and nine coauthors has resulted in several bold headlines but little critical analysis. Articles with titles such as “Report: Allowing Guns On Campus Results In More, Not Less, Gun Violence” and “Guns on campus unlikely to increase safety, study finds” belie both the fact that the report is theoretical and doesn’t cite any resulting gun violence on college campuses and the fact that the report, which involved no data analysis and was neither published nor peer-reviewed, is not actually a “study” in the academic sense of the word.

At best, the report is a pedantic, overly verbose op-ed that attempts to couch the usual arguments against campus carry in academic language. At worst, it is an attempt to portray the work of two of Dr. Webster’s coauthors—John Donohue and Louis Klarevas—as “the best available research” (p.2) on the subject of licensed concealed carry.

Propaganda doesn’t become research  just because it’s written on letterhead from a prestigious university. If these ten professors genuinely wanted to study the issue, they could have conducted a peer-reviewed meta-analysis of the existing literature. Instead, they chose to phone it in with an editorial touting only those outlier studies that reinforce their personal prejudices.

Those of us leading SCC are merely undergraduates and are, therefore, unequipped to prepare a formal academic analysis of a report authored by ten doctors. We are, however, more than equipped to point out flawed logic, straw man arguments, and factual errors.

THE REPORT IN QUESTION:

  • Claims, “The Most Recent Rigorous Research Studies Find RTC Laws Linked to Increased Violence” (p. 16), but cites only the prior work of report coauthor John Donohue and ignores the fact that Donohue’s findings are contradicted by the preponderance of peer-reviewed research on the subject, including a more recent (2015) studyby Charles D. Phillips, Regents Professor of health and policy management at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. Dr. Phillips’ study concluded:

The basic question underlying the hypotheses investigated in this research is simple—Is CHL licensing related in any way to crime rates? The results of this research indicate that no such relationships exist. For our study states, during the time period covered by our data, changes in crime rates did not affect subsequent CHL licensing rates. In addition, CHL licensing rates did not have a significant, negative or positive, effect on subsequent crime rates.

  • Hypothesizes, “Increasing gun availability in campus environments could make far more common acts of aggression, recklessness, or self-harm more deadly and, thus, have a deleterious impact on the safety of students, faculty, and staff” (p. 3), but fails to examine the experiences of campuses that already allow licensed concealed carry.
    • The University of Texas at Austin’s campus carry policy working group, which was tasked with researching the issue of campus carry prior to the enactment of Texas’ campus carry law, found no reports of resulting assaults or suicide attempts at campus-carry colleges and stated:
    • We reached out to 17 research universities in the seven campus-carry states…Most respondents reported that campus carry had not had much direct impact on student life or academic affairs…What we can say is that we have found little evidence of campus violence that can be directly linked to campus carry, and none that involves an intentional shooting…We found that the evidence does not support the claim that a causal link exists between campus carry and an increased rate of sexual assault. We found no evidence that campus carry has caused an increase in suicide rates on campuses in other states.

  • Focuses heavily on rebutting claims that campus carry will make college campuses safer and that active shooters seek out gun-free zones, despite the fact that such claims are not ubiquitous in the campus carry movement and are eschewed by Students for Concealed Carry, the nation’s leading campus carry advocacy group.
  • Claims, “According to the advocates of allowing civilians to carry firearms on college campuses, some individuals considering perpetrating a mass shooting will be deterred from attacking places where they stand a likelihood of being confronted by private citizens carrying firearms. In instances when deterrence fails and attacks are initiated, campus-carry advocates claim that armed students and staff will be able to intervene and halt gun rampages and thereby minimize the number of victims killed or wounded in the attack” (p. 7). The report backs up this attribution of motive by linking not to a policy paper by a pro-campus carry organization or to a speech by a pro-campus carry politician but, rather, to a listicle titled “12 Times Mass Shootings Were Stopped by Good Guys With Guns,” on the website ControversialTimes.com.
  • Claims, “Advocates for allowing civilians to bring guns onto college campuses and to deregulate carrying of guns in public places in general commonly cite research and statements by John Lott, an economist widely known for his claims that deregulating gun possession reaps significant reductions in violent crime” (p. 8). As proof that advocates generally rely on Dr. Lott’s work to make the case for campus carry, the report offers only a couple of endnotes citing Dr. Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime” series of articles and books.
    • An examination of SCC’s Common Arguments page, SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout, and SCC’s 2015-2016 Texas press releases (three documents that if combined and published in book form would be the approximate length of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) reveals only this one reference to the research of Dr. John Lott:
    • According to one gun-rights research group, there have been “only two mass public shootings since at least 1950 that have not been part of some other crime where at least four people have been killed in an area where civilians are generally allowed to have guns.” This source obviously isn’t unbiased, and they admit to having looked only at “public shootings…where the point of the attack is simply to kill as many people as possible,” but this finding combined with the relatively low rate of licensure during the 2000-2013 period does give us reason to believe that maybe—just maybe—it’s unreasonable to assume that CHL holders would have been directly involved (not just somewhere nearby) in a large number of active-shooter incidents.

  • Argues (p. 22) that campus carry would impede campus law enforcement but fails to examine the impact of licensed concealed carry on law enforcement in non-collegiate environments.
  • Argues, “Most campus officers routinely respond to situations in which information is sparse. They respond to calls such as ‘suspicious person,’ ‘suspicious circumstances,’ ‘911-hang up,’ and ‘alarm sounding’ often with no additional information. If the presence of guns must be assumed, the level of seriousness, tactics used, and necessary precautions taken in response to such calls are elevated” (p. 23). However, in the absence of metal detectors, X-ray machines, or any other screening measure designed to prevent criminals from bringing guns onto campus, officers on any open campus—even a “gun-free” campus—must assume the presence of guns.
    • When officers get a report of a suspicious person, they don’t approach the suspect, thinking, “We’d better be careful—this guy might have passed extensive state and federal background checks in order to obtain a license to carry a handgun.” They’re thinking, “We’d better be careful—this guy might be a criminal who doesn’t care what the law says about carrying a gun or shooting a police officer.”
  • States, “A recent study identified 85 incidents of shootings or undesirable discharges of firearms on college campuses in the U.S. from January 2013 through June 2016” (p. 3). This suggests that the authors of the report anticipate no difference in the behavior of individuals who endure personal expense and an extensive vetting process to obtain the right to lawfully carry a handgun on campus and those individuals who currently choose to ignore the school policies and state laws prohibiting possession of firearms on campus.
  • States, “Research demonstrates that access to firearms substantially increases suicide risks, especially among adolescents and young adults, as firearms are the most common method of lethal self-harm” (p. 3). However, the report offers no explanation as to how campus carry could increase the risk of student suicide if it doesn’t change the ability of a student to own a gun; have a gun at home, where 90% of suicides occur; or—in many states, including Texas—keep a handgun in a locked automobile parked on campus.
  • Claims, “Binge drinking, a common behavior among college students, especially elevates risks for involvement in violent altercations” (p. 3), but fails to note that most student drinking (particularly binge drinking) takes places at college parties and that most college parties take place at private residences where licensed concealed carry is already legal.
  • Cites (p. 19) numerous studies on the brain development of teenagers, as an argument against allowing campus carry by adults age 21 and above.
    • The report fails to mention that Jay N. Giedd, M.D., the author of five of the cited studies on adolescent brain development, also wrote:
    • Late maturation of the prefrontal cortex, which is essential in judgment, decision making and impulse control, has prominently entered discourse affecting the social, legislative, judicial, parenting and educational realms. Despite the temptation to trade the complexity and ambiguity of human behavior for the clarity and aesthetic beauty of colorful brain images, we must be careful not to over-interpret the neuroimaging findings as they relate to public policy.

    • It should be noted that when scientists say that the human brain does not fully mature until the age of 25, the emphasis is on the word “fully.” The vast majority of brain development is completed by age 20. The remaining development is, in essence, finishing touches. Saying that the brain of a 21-year-old is not fully developed is like saying that a construction crew hasn’t finished building a house, simply because they still haven’t put the covers on the light switches—the statement is technically true but highly misleading. There is little or no scientific evidence that the decision making ability of a 21-year-old is substantially or even measurably different from that of a 25-year-old. However, there is a good deal of scientific evidence to the contrary.
  • Argues, “Age-specific homicide offending peaks around the age when youth reach the minimum legal age for purchasing, and carrying handguns (19-21 years)” (p. 3) and, “Risks for violence, suicide attempts, alcohol abuse, and risky behavior are greatly elevated among college-age youth” (p. 24). However, the report neglects to examine state-level data on the rates of concealed handgun license (CHL) revocation among persons of typical college age.
    • According to statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety, 0.147% of CHL holders between the ages of 18* and 23 had their licenses revoked in 2015. For those age 21-23, the 2015 revocation rate was 1.50%. By comparison, 0.155% of license holders between the ages of 38 and 43 had their concealed handgun licenses revoked that year.
    • *A person age 18-20 can only obtain a Texas CHL if he or she is a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. As of January 1, 2016, there were a maximum of 333 active Texas CHLs held by military personnel and veterans age 18-20. In that age range, that’s approximately one Texan out of every 3,634, or 0.0275%.
  • Conflates (p. 2) mass shootings (which typically happen in private residences and involve domestic disputes) and public rampage shootings, to reinforce the report’s assertion that most shooting sprees happen where civilians are allowed to have guns.
  • Reinforces its assertion that concealed handgun license holders consistently fail to stop mass shootings, by noting, “A review conducted by [report coauthor Louis] Klarevas of the 111 high-fatality mass shootings (six or more victims murdered) that occurred in the U.S. since 1966 found that only eighteen have taken place, in whole or in part, in a gun-free zone or gun-restricting zone” (p. 10). However, that finding is not entirely accurate.
    • Only thirty (27%) of the cited incidents took place in states that had shall-issue concealed handgun licensing laws at the time of the shooting. (Klarevas lists four Texas shootings that took place pre-1996, when only a law enforcement officer could lawfully carry a handgun in public. He lists fourteen incidents that took place in California, which has very restrictive licensing laws.)
    • Of those thirty incidents that took place in shall-issue states, sixteen took place entirely in private residences not open to the public. (The authors of this report apparently interpret the case of an Indiana man killing his six children in their sleep as a failure of licensed concealed carry.)
    • Of the remaining fourteen incidents that took place, in part or in whole, in public spaces, two were shootouts between rival gangs—not the type of threat against which a law-abiding citizen has much need to defend himself or herself and not the type of threat against which one person with a handgun is of much use.
    • That leaves just twelve incidents  (10.8% of the list of 111) for which a case might be made that a concealed handgun license holder could have reasonably and lawfully intervened. And those twelve include two incidents in which the public portion of the shooting involved the gunman firing a rifle from the cover and concealment of an automobile—another scenario that doesn’t fit the model of a typical rampage shooting and that doesn’t lend itself to armed intervention by a CHL holder.
  • Offers a footnote (p. 11) listing five mass shootings that purportedly took place in locations where civilians were allowed to possess firearms. That foot note:
    • Lists the July 7, 2016, Dallas sniper attack, with no mention/examination of the fact that a sniper attack is logistically and strategically very different from a typical rampage shooting and offers little chance for intervention by a CHL holder.
    • Lists an attack near Palestine, Texas, that took place on private property.
    • Lists the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, with no mention/examination of the fact that concealed carry was against school policy for faculty, staff, and students. The report mentions that there were armed students on this campus, despite the fact that there is no record/evidence that there were armed students in the building where the shooting occurred. The only confirmed armed student (who was carrying a handgun in violation of school policy) was in a different building on the same campus and wisely chose to stay put.
    • Lists the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, despite the fact licensed concealed carry is heavily restricted and relatively rare in California. The report mentions that there were armed civilians on site, despite the fact that there is no record/evidence that there were armed civilians in the building where the shooting occurred. The only confirmed armed civilian was in a building across the street from the Inland Regional Center. He saw one of the suspects fleeing but, not being sure what was happening, wisely chose not to fire.
  • Notes, “By contrast, the FBI found that 21 of the 160 active shooting incidents were interrupted when unarmed civilians confronted and restrained the gunmen. The FBI’s data suggest that unarmed civilians are more than twenty times likely to successfully end an active shooting than are armed civilians” (p. 12). The report fails to note that, of the 21 incidents stopped by unarmed civilians, 11 occurred in schools where concealed carry was not allowed.
  • Argues, “Shooting accurately and making appropriate judgments about when and how to shoot in chaotic, high-stress situations requires a high level of familiarity with tactics and the ability to manage stress under intense pressure” (p. 11). This argument conflates self-defense with law-enforcement-style interdiction.
    • The reference to “tactics” suggests that the authors believe that the average license holder, upon finding himself or herself in the vicinity of a mass shooting, would act like an amateur, one-man SWAT team and attempt to single-handedly clear the building and find the assailant or assailants. This is in direct conflict with the self-defense intent of licensed concealed carry and with standard concealed handgun training.
    • The report ignores the fact that survivors and victims of mass shootings have watched from nearby hiding spots as gunmen reloaded or have spent several minutes corresponding with 911 operators or loved ones before being shot.
    • The report ignores the fact that mass shootings are not the only or even the most common form of assault on college campuses and that, according to most experts, a shooting is likely to involve an assailant no more than three yards away, last no more than three seconds, and involve no more than three shots fired. In such a scenario, there is little need for “tactics.”
  • Suggests that “allowing more civilians to carry firearms into more public places could also facilitate more mass shootings. The Violence Policy Center has tracked incidents in which a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit holder was alleged to have committed various crimes of violence and unintentional shootings. They identified 29 CCW holders who perpetrated non -­‐ defensive shootings that involved three or more deaths not including the shooter during the period 2007 -­‐ 2015” (p. 12). The report fails to note that 26 of those incidents clearly had nothing to do with licensed concealed carry, that two of those incidents most likely had nothing to do with licensed concealed carry, and that the one incident that likely related to licensed concealed carry was perpetrated by a convicted felon who should have been disqualified from obtaining a carry permit but was issued one due to a database error.
  • Concludes by noting, “Concealed carry permit holders have passed criminal background checks and, as a group, commit crimes at a relatively low rate. But, in states with the most lax standards for legal gun ownership, 60% of individuals incarcerated for committing crimes with guns were legal gun owners when they committed their crimes” (p. 23). This odd statement conflates concealed handgun license holders and legal gun owners—two groups that, although there is some minor overlap, are far from one and the same.

###

ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. SCC is a pioneer in the field of long-form press releases. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Nov. 1, 2016, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Nov-1-2016

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

SCC Statement on NRA Opinion Column by Former SCC Director

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE11/01/2016

CONTACT:
Brian Bensimon, Southwest Regional Director, SCC: brian.bensimon@concealedcampus.org
Michael Newbern, Assistant Director of Public Relations, SCC: michael.newbern@concealedcampus.org

SCC Statement on NRA Opinion Column by Former SCC Director

AUSTIN, TX – A recent opinion column by former Students for Concealed Carry Southwest Regional Director Antonia Okafor, published in the NRA periodical America’s 1st Freedom, fails to make clear that Okafor is no longer affiliated with SCC and that the views expressed in the column are entirely her own. Those views sharply contrast with SCC’s positions and message and do not reflect the views of SCC leadership.

Current SCC Southwest Regional Director Brian Bensimon commented, “Students for Concealed Carry may disagree with anti-campus carry activists, but we certainly don’t think they’ve made millennials a laughing stock or tainted the White House with obscenity. Campus carry is the subject of an ongoing policy debate, and SCC can win that debate without assassinating our opponents’ character or resorting to conspiracy theories about George Soros.”

Assistant Director of Public Relations Mike Newbern added, “While we appreciate Antonia’s contributions to our organization and cause and wish her well in her future endeavors, we feel the need to make a clear distinction between our former Southwest regional director’s personal views and Students for Concealed Carry’s official positions. Our social media channels and website are clear. We encourage folks interested in knowing where we stand to look to those.”

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Oct. 27, 2016, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Oct-27-2016

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: https://www.scribd.com/document/317821607/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Press-Releases-Regarding-UT-Austin-s-Campus-Carry-Policies

Students for Concealed Carry Welcomes New Southwest Regional Director

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 09/30/2016

CONTACT:
Michael Newbern, Assistant Director of Public Relations, SCC: michael.newbern@concealedcampus.org

Students for Concealed Carry Welcomes New Southwest Regional Director

AUSTIN, TX – Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) wishes the best to outgoing Southwest regional director Antonia Okafor, who is moving on to the next stage of her career, and congratulates Brian Bensimon, who previously served as SCC director for the state of Texas, on his appointment as the new Southwest regional director.

Michael Newbern, SCC assistant director of public relations, commented, “This past year was one of the busiest ever for SCC’s Texas chapter, and we are eternally grateful to outgoing Southwest regional director Antonia Okafor for seeing us through the lead-up to and ultimate implementation of campus carry at Texas universities. The next twelve months will take us through both the 2017 Texas Legislative Session and the implementation of campus carry at Texas community and junior colleges, so we are extremely fortunate to have a qualified, experienced advocate like Brian Bensimon stepping into the role at such a crucial time.”

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Sept. 25, 2016, Texas press releases and op-eds: https://www.scribd.com/document/319141232/Texas-Students-for-Concealed-Carry-Campus-Carry-Press-Releases-Op-Eds-Oct-2-2015-Sept-25-2016

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): https://www.scribd.com/document/255815743/SCC-s-2015-Texas-Legislative-Handout

SCC Statement on the Accidental Discharge at Tarleton State University

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 09/16/2016

CONTACT:

Brian Bensimon, Director for the State of Texas, SCC: brian.bensimon@concealedcampus.org

Michael Newbern, Assistant Director of Public Relations, SCC: michael.newbern@concealedcampus.org

SCC Statement on the Accidental Discharge at Tarleton State University

AUSTIN, TX  – According to a press release from Tarleton State University and reporting by Claire Z. Cardona of The Dallas Morning News, a Tarleton State student and license to carry (LTC) holder accidentally discharged a handgun in a university residence hall on the evening of Wednesday, September 14. This incident reportedly resulted in no injuries and only minimal property damage.

Brian Bensimon, Texas state director for Students for Concealed Carry (SCC), commented:

This incident is unfortunate but in keeping with what we saw in both Colorado and Idaho, each of which experienced a  single negligent discharge within two or three months of their statewide campus carry laws taking effect. For whatever reason, there seems to be a period of adjustment that follows the implementation of these laws. Thankfully, neither Colorado nor Idaho has seen a repeat of these incidents, and the overall track record of campus carry is still very strong. After a combined total of approximately 2,000 semesters of campus carry at almost 200 U.S. college campuses, this is only the fifth resulting accidental discharge, and not one of those incidents resulted in life-threatening injury to the license holder or serious injury to another person.

Without knowing the exact circumstances of the accidental discharge at Tarleton State, SCC cannot address specific contributing factors; however, there is no question that dorm rooms—where licensed residents must occasionally handle their weapons while holstering, unholstering, loading, or unloading them—are at increased risk for negligent discharge. The increased danger that accompanies unholstering and handling a firearm is one of the reasons SCC vigorously fought proposals such as placing gun lockers outside of classrooms and requiring license holders to empty the chambers of their guns before stepping onto campus.

Because of the increased danger associated with handling an unholstered firearm, license holders living in dorm rooms should be diligent to observe the four basic rules of firearm safety when handling their guns.

The Four Basic Rules of Firearm Safety:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  2. Never point a gun at anything you are not WILLING to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger unless and until the gun is pointed at something you WANT to destroy.
  4. Be certain of the object your gun is pointed at, and be aware of anything that might be BEHIND the object your gun is pointed at and anything that might come BETWEEN your gun and the object it is pointed at.

These four rules offer redundant protections against injury or death. For example, a license holder who violates rule number three and accidentally pulls the trigger is unlikely to cause injury as long as he or she is observing rules one, two, and four.

It is worth noting that, of the four negligent discharges at campus-carry colleges outside of Texas, two were the result of license holders showing their guns to someone else, which is a serious crime under Texas law. The other two were the result of license holders carrying their handguns in a pocket, unholstered, which is prohibited by school policy at most Texas universities.

In contrast to the common perception that inexperienced, immature students pose the greatest threat of negligent discharge, two of the prior incidents involved faculty or staff, and one involved a police cadet.

The Prior Negligent Discharges at Campus-Carry Colleges:

On May 4, 2015, a police cadet at Utah Valley University was showing his handgun to a fellow cadet, on their way to a police firearms class. The gun discharged, grazing the chest of the other cadet.

On September 2, 2014, a professor at Idaho State University was carrying an unholstered handgun in his pants pocket while teaching a class. The handgun discharged, shooting him in the foot.

On November 9, 2012, a staff member at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine was showing her gun to two coworkers. The gun discharged as she was attempting to reload it. The bullet ricocheted off a filing cabinet and nicked both her and a coworker on their legs.

On January 4, 2012, a student at Weber State University in Utah was carrying an unholstered handgun in his pants pocket while walking across campus. The handgun discharged, shooting him in the leg.

These incidents are unfortunate; however, given the number of college campuses that allow licensed concealed carry and the length of time for which they have allowed it, this is still an impressive record. This record, coupled with the fact that not one campus-carry college has reported a resulting violent crime, threat of violence, suicide, or suicide attempt demonstrates that the licensed, concealed carry of handgun can be safely implemented on college campuses.

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ABOUT STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY — Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) is a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization comprising college students, faculty, staff, and concerned citizens who believe that holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else. SCC is not affiliated with the NRA or any other organization. For more information on SCC, visit ConcealedCampus.org or Facebook.com/ConcealedCampus. For more information on the debate over campus carry in Texas, visit WhyCampusCarry.com.

RELATED:

“A Refresher on the Case for Campus Carry in Texas”: http://concealedcampus.org/2016/05/a-refresher-on-the-case-for-campus-carry-in-texas/

SCC’s Oct. 2, 2015 – Sept. 15, 2016, Texas press releases and op-eds: http://tinyurl.com/scc-feb-aug-releases

SCC’s 2015 Texas legislative handout (includes Dec. 9 – May 22, 2015, press releases and op-eds): http://tinyurl.com/scc-2015-tx-lege-handout

All SCC statements regarding the campus carry policies proposed by UT-Austin: http://tinyurl.com/scc-on-ut-austin