The Honorable Clif Richardson
Louisiana House of Representatives
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Thanks for your phone call today asking for my opinion and background on concealed carry of handguns on college campuses. Representative Ernest Wooton’s bill to allow such recently passed out of committee, and is due to be considered soon by the full Louisiana House.
I appreciate your trying to find out more about the subject, and I appreciate your calling me. As the senior instructor of state-certified concealed handgun courses in Louisiana, the author of numerous articles and one book (“The Great New Orleans Gun Grab”) on firearms ownership, I have some definite opinions on allowing concealed carry on college campuses.
You will likely hear from dozens of administrators and some law enforcement that it would be a mistake to allow concealed carry on college campuses. I disagree with them for a number of reasons, but first, let me tell you a couple of stories and quote some statistics.
The media trumpets to the heavens every time a youth uses a gun to kill another person in one of our schools. Unfortunately, the opposite is not true.
Have you ever heard what happened on Wednesday, January 16, 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law at Grundy, Virginia?
It’s a small, private, and highly respected school of law that has gained quite a bit of notoriety because of the actions of a foreign student.
His name was Peter Odighizuwa, a Nigerian and naturalized U.S. Citizen who had flunked out of the school in 2001, but had been allowed to come back in and change his academic course. On the day in question, the 42-year-old Odighizuwa was due to speak with L. Anthony Sutin, Dean of the school about his grades—Odighizuwa had just been dismissed a second time for poor grades.
Odighizuwa had a history of mental instability that was disclosed in a report by the Newport News (VA.) Daily Press.
Odighizuwa spoke first with Professor Dale Rubin when he arrived at campus that morning. Upon leaving Rubin's office, he asked him to pray for him. He then went to the offices of Dean Sutin, and Professor Thomas Blackwell.
Upon arriving at their offices, Odighizuwa drew a .380 caliber pistol and shot both these respected college educators to death.
He then went downstairs and opened fire in a common area, hitting a student, Angela Denice Dales, killing her.
He fired three more shots, wounding students Stacy Beans, 22, of Berea, Kentucky; Rebecca Brown, 38, of Roanoke, and Martha Madeline Short, 37, of Grundy.
He then stopped shooting and went outside as students were diving out of windows and running for cover.
Two students, Tracy Bridges and Mikael Gross, ran to their parked cars and retrieved handguns from them. They then ran back and pointed their guns at Odighizuwa, who quickly dropped his pistol. Another student, Ted Besen, ran up to Odighizuwa who hit him in the face, and then there was a pile on...one of the students with a gun was an off-duty police officer, and Odighizuwa was quickly in handcuffs.
You may not have heard of the incident at the Appalachian School of Law—it was not heavily reported, and there was practically NO mention in the media that students with guns stopped what would have surely been more bloodshed. Most media reports stated that Odighizuwa was “tackled” by a group of students. According to researcher (and college economics professor) Dr. John R. Lott, there were 280 separate news stories (from a computerized Nexis-Lexis search) in the week after the event—and just four stories mentioned the fact that the students that stopped the attack used guns to end it.
Of course. Certainly the national media is not going to publicize a positive intercession by citizens with guns.
But I’ll bet you remember the incident on Wednesday, October 1, 1997 in Pearl, Mississippi. That’s where 16-year-old Luke Woodham murdered his mother the night before by cutting her throat, then showed up at Pearl High School with a .30-30 caliber rifle.
He opened fire on his former girlfriend, Christina Menefee and her friend Lydia Dew, killing them instantly. He then swung the rifle around and fired it into a group of students. He ran to the parking lot and climbed into his dead mother’s car—he later stated he intended to drive to a nearby junior high school and kill more students.
Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, a shooter, and a member of the National Guard, ran to his car and retrieved his .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, loaded it, and rushed to intercept Woodham who was by that time behind the wheel of his car. When Myrick pointed his handgun at Woodham, the student tried to drive around another vehicle and crashed into a tree. Myrick ran up and pointed his gun at Woodham, ordered him out of the car, and held him on the ground at gunpoint until the police arrived.
There was little media reporting of the fact that Myrick stopped what was sure to be further carnage with the use of his own handgun—I guess we are to assume he ran up to Woodham, pointed his finger at him, ordered him to stop, and Woodham meekly complied.
Finally, I know you remember the horrible incident which occurred on Monday, April 16, 2007 at Virginian Tech University at Blacksburg, Virginia.
Korean-born Seung-Hui Cho took a 9mm Glock pistol and a .22 caliber Walther pistol and went on a murderous rampage —the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, murdering 32 students and instructors before taking his own life.
There was legislation introduced into the Virginia legislature in 2006 which would have allowed concealed carry on campus, but it was derailed, and no such freedom existed on the campus—it was a “Gun-Free Zone.” These have now become more accurately described as “Victim Disarmament Zones.”
The first thing Cho did was shoot two students to death in a dormitory. He then showed up at Norris Hall, a classroom building, where he chained the doors shut, walked up to the second floor, and began rushing from room to room, shooting at will. In all, he wounded 60 people, killing 30 of them. Police believe he fired more than 170 rounds in this attack. He had two 32-round replacement magazines for the Glock, and a large number of spare magazines.
Among the victims were five college professors, including Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who blocked the door of his classroom to give his students time to escape through the windows. Cho shot him five times, killing him.
There were 11 dead students in Room 211—this is where Cho eventually took his own life. There were nine dead in Room 206. There were four killed in Room 2007, and another died in Room 204. More died later.
Enough. You get the picture. Possible mass slayings are averted or lessened because someone produced a handgun and stopped the killing. Where none are present in these “Victim Disarmament Zones,” dozens die needlessly.
No amount of law, statutes, or regulations are going to keep a madman from going where guns are least likely to be used against them and killing people. Yet, administrators seem to feel that allowing a small number of well-trained adults who have undergone extensive criminal and mental background checks to carry concealed on campus will result in some sort of Armageddon, where students will go crazy and start shooting everyone.
Need I point out that if such a person is going to submit to such violent tendencies, the fact he is breaking the law by having a gun on campus is going to do little to deter him.
But I ask if only ONE student had been able to produce a handgun and engage Cho on Monday, April 16, 2007 inside Norris Hall, how many innocent lives might have been saved?
“According to an estimate by the National Shooting Sports Foundation—a Connecticut-based firearms industry group—there are more than 290 million privately-owned firearms in the United States today. The number of American households with at least one firearm has risen to an estimated 47.8 million.”
That quote comes from “America Fights Back—Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age,” an excellent book by Alan Gottlieb, Director of the Second Amendment Foundation, and Dave Workman, Editor of “The New Gun Week,” a weekly newsmagazine on firearms, sport shooting, and politics. I count both of these gentlemen as personal friends, and much of the information stated here has been gleaned from their book, writings by Professor Lott, and by Dr. Gary Kleck, a criminology professor at Florida State University.
Now that I have thrown all the facts and figures at you, let’s look at some of the histrionics you will be likely to face when listening to opposition to this bill to allow concealed carry on campus:
1. Allowing students to carry guns will only result in shootings and bloodshed on campuses.
This is the same argument that has been produced in every state (now about 40) where shall-issue concealed carry laws have been proposed. This is a fallacy that has been proven wrong over and over again—Professor Lott has found that mass public shootings declined by 85%, and injuries fell 82 per cent in the 14 states that adopted shall-issue carry laws between 1977 and 1995.
Professor Gary Kleck, in his book “Point Blank—Guns and Violence In America,” found that guns are used over 2.5 MILLION times a year to stop crimes from occurring—and only in a miniscule number of those cases is the gun actually discharged. Incidentally, Dr. Kleck’s methodology has never been disproved in this study—it is generally accepted as a watershed study in the use of guns and violence in the United States.
2. The students will more likely shoot each other, than a gunman.
As I have told you before, my daughter is currently a college student. If a crazed shooter opened up in her dorm, classroom, or a campus building she was in, I would take that chance, and prefer someone in the building had taken a Louisiana Concealed Handgun Permit Course, was licensed by the state to carry, and had a gun which which to stop the killings. I’ll take the chance he/she might accidentally shoot my beloved daughter. Rather that chance, than her more certain death by an assassin in a gun-free zone.
Incidentally, she is over 21 years of age, has her own permit, knows how to shoot, and when to shoot. And if you were ever someplace where someone opened up with a gun, killing people indiscriminately, you would be most glad she had her revolver...she won’t shoot anyone else accidentally, and she won’t be afraid to stop someone from shooting others. She is trained, competent, and cool-headed.
3. The police, upon arriving, won’t know the difference between the shooters and the students—and might shoot a student.
Give me a break. I worked for 25 years as a reserve law enforcement officer. I came on scenes where citizens had guns and were holding other people—lawbreakers—at bay. It happened to me once—dressed in plain clothes, I stopped a crime from occurring in another jurisdiction. Holding a lawbreaker on the ground, pointing a .38 Special revolver at his back, I had the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office roll up on the scene, and they leveled their guns at me until I put mine down, and convinced them which of us was the bad guy. I never shot anyone in such a case, and never knew another law enforcement officer that did, either. It might be unnerving at first, we might have pointed guns at them until they put them down, but we worked it out quickly. I think this is a red herring here.
Finally (here, we hear the breathy sound of a sigh of relief), I would like to point out a couple of things:
From 1987 to 1995, the state of Florida issued almost 315,000 concealed carry permits. In that eight-year time frame, the state of Florida rescinded a sum total of 54 permits from permit holders for illegal activities with a gun.
Louisiana now has almost 40,000 concealed carry permit holders—a far cry from the approximately half-million over in Texas—mainly because we have always considered the vehicle an extension of the home, and allowed citizens to carry their guns in their cars.
I think you can call the Louisiana State Police Concealed Permit Section and they can give you the same statistics for our state. You will find the numbers of permits rescinded to be correspondingly low. Statistically across the nation, concealed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding subsection of our citizenry you can find—folks that undergo the training and get the permits don’t commit the crimes.
Should we allow concealed carry on campus?
Absolutely. I don’t understand the reasoning against it. By denying it, you are saying that reasoned, thinking adults, which the state has determined can legally carry, cannot do so on campus—but they can practically everywhere else, where nothing has occurred. The people arguing against this are saying adult college students are likely to go berserk and start shooting one another.
I would point out here that the Louisiana State Police conduct an extensive and thorough background check on every applicant—mental, criminal, every aspect of a person’s background is evaluated before the permit is issued. And the training is equally thorough and extensive, requiring hours of shooting time, lectures on safe use of handguns, use of deadly force, and child-access prevention.
Allow concealed carry on campuses? Why has it ever been denied in the first place?
Thanks for taking the time to inquire about this upcoming legislation. I hope I haven’t dragged it out too long for you—but you said you wanted to gain some facts and figures on the subject, to be able to make up your mind on the subject. I appreciate your keeping your promise to call me for background when the legislation came up. You are a man of your word, and I appreciate that.
Author, “The Great New Orleans Gun Grab”