Colorado’s legislature voted Monday to bring the mistakes of Virginia Tech to our campuses. I know those mistakes personally — I was there, and my friend Jeremy Herbstritt was one of the 32 victims of the 2007 shooting.
Some feel that guns are the problem — and the VT shooter should have been denied his purchase due to his mental health problems. But the reality is that he would have found another way to hurt people — he was bent on committing mass murder and getting his manifesto heard.
However, two people came forward to me after the shootings who were there, in the classrooms, and watched the whole thing go down. Then they showed me their concealed handgun permits. My heart sank. They had had clear shots and could have stopped the attack; my friend might still have been alive.
Today, the Colorado House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to ban concealed carry on campus, HB 13-1226, which would put us on par with where Virginia Tech was in 2007. We are otherwise peer institutions — rural campuses, 30,000 students, Land Grant institutions. CSU could be the next Virginia Tech.
And their reasoning? You are immature, on drugs, irresponsible, and a bad shot. That’s right — you are the problem. They don’t care that you’ve made great efforts to carry responsibly, that you have a clear history, that you’re 21 years old, that you’ve taken a concealed carry course, or that you have made it through at least a few years of college.
You being a college student is important, too — it says you are less risky than the general public. Don’t believe me? Call your insurance company. They will give you a discount for having good grades and getting a college degree. By 21 years old, you either have a degree already or are close, and likely have decent grades. Insurance companies don’t give out discounts for nothing — it means you are a statistically lower risk than the general public.
What’s worse is that Representative Levy said, when she introduced the bill on Friday, that “I have no illusions that … (this law) will end campus shootings.” That’s not surprising, considering that no gun control law, in all of history, has ever reduced crime. Many have increased crime, as they leave people defenseless from psychotic killers. This bill will do the same.
Call or email your Senators today — the bill can still be stopped there. Tell them that you don’t like them talking down about you behind your back and that you won’t allow them to take away your right to self-defense. And tell them not to bring the mistakes of Virginia Tech to Colorado.
Ken Stanton is a Research Affiliate with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and earned his PhD from Virginia Tech in 2011 in Engineering Education.