October 15, 2015: Keeping students, faculty safe at college

The Tampa Tribune, October 12, 2015 – Keeping students, faculty safe at college.

While recognizing Mr. Hanbury’s success with a system of private universities I do not defer to his opinion on an individual right to self-defense on campus.

The pivotal statement in his Other Views column is this “Thus, we believe our campuses are safe.” This statement is preceded by what he believes to be his responsibility and due diligence to provide a safe environment for the facility, staff, students, and visitors.

I am sure that sentiment is shared by other university presidents. But in his generalities he exposes the top down authoritarian approach to self-defense.  He only wants “licensed law enforcement officers” to have firearms.  If his schools provided these “licensed law enforcement officers” in every classroom when classes are in session then he has a strong argument for believing that his campuses are safe.  But is this the case?

The purpose of having armed law enforcement on campus is twofold; first to respond to incidents, second to be a deterrent. But unless a “licensed law enforcement officer” is in the room when a murderer starts his/her spree, they are not the first responders.  The victim is always the first responder.  Remove the gun free zone labels from campuses and let concealed carry holders be a deterrent also. 

Mr. Hanbury implies that concealed carry holders are apt to pull out their guns and start shooting during passionate reasoning and emotional discussions. This is a bias against law-abiding Citizens who value liberty and self-reliance.  Mr. Hanbury is of the top-down regulatory authority frame of mind.  Where only official representative of authority are allowed to exercise their rights.  Citizens are not to be trusted with the right of armed self-defense. 

Administrators, teachers, staff, and students all need to be taught that in an active shooter situation there are three things you can do and none of them guarantee you will get out alive. Flee if you can, fight if you must, but do not freeze.  Irrespective of the genesis of the decision a shooter makes to start murdering, he/she will only be stopped when they are stopped by force. 

The concealed carry holder is under no obligation to run to the sound of shots being fired. Their first responsibility is for their safety and then those around them.  If they are not being shot at, their self-defense training should initiate self-preservation. That is one of the wrong assumptions that Mr. Hanbury and other opponents of concealed carry make.  They envision a convergence of concealed carry holders presenting their guns and charging into chaos from every direction with guns blazing.

If in the immediate area of the threat, and the threat is to their life or the life of those around them, anyone will be justified in using deadly force against an attacker. That doesn’t just apply to concealed carry holders.  Every Citizen in that situation has to make a decision based on the information they have available.  In the same way as the passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 or as Moogalian, Sadler, Stone, and Skarlatos and Norman did on a French train.  

Freezing in fear and panic is just making oneself a stationary target. There is no guarantee that training and instruction will prevent freezing in a stressful situation.  Instruction on the difference between concealment and cover could also save lives.   

I encourage our Florida Legislators to support HB 4001 and Senators to support SB 68 in the next session. I also encourage education administrators make “Active Shooter” education a part of every orientation with annual refreshers.  This is especially important for traditional students who are yet to reach the age of 21.  The State of Florida mandates that they do not have the capacity for concealed carry.  Thus removing their ability to use a force equalizing tool for self-defense when deadly force is justified. 


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