Op-Ed

‘Campus carry’ gun bill doesn’t go far enough

Florida’s “campus carry” bill, approved by the state’s House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 19, would allow students who are 21 or older, and who possess special government permission slips (concealed carry “licenses”), to go armed on the state’s public college and university campuses. Pretty weak tea, but better than nothing.

The Legislature should pass the bill as soon as it hits the floor in January, then come back to improve it (by eliminating the age limit and the “license” requirement) as soon as humanly possible.

Yes, I just said that the bill, as written, is too restrictive. Neither violent crime, nor the inalienable human right to self-defense (which happens to have been recognized in the U.S. Constitution for 224 years now as the right “to keep and bear arms,” with no mention of “licenses”), magically disappear when one crosses the line separating a college campus from the rest of the world.

And yes, I know some people disagree. But this is issue is not suffused with nuance. One side is clearly right, the other is clearly wrong.

Supporters of victim disarmament (they call it “gun control” to avoid the public shame and embarrassment involved in saying what they actually mean) offer a number of supposed arguments for their position. All of those arguments boil down to this claim:

“It is better for a University of Florida co-ed to be mugged, beaten, raped and strangled to death with her own pantyhose than for her to carry a hunk of metal that triggers irrational fear on my part.”

Did I say that one side here is clearly right and the other side is clearly wrong? Pardon me while I correct myself: One side here is clearly good and the other side is clearly evil, or insane, or both.

This isn’t complicated, folks: You can support the right to self-defense, or you can support letting rapists and murderers have their way with the innocent victims you’ve disarmed for their convenience.

It’s one or the other, and there is no in-between.

If the Legislature passes this bill, Florida will become the ninth state to partially and imperfectly step out of the fantasy world in which victim disarmers would have our children live — or, more to the point, die — as the price of pursuing their educations.

Florida should have been first. Florida should go further. And the other 41 states should follow.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Clarification

Carl Juste, whose images were featured in the Nov. 15 photo essay HavanaHaiti, is a Miami Herald photographer. The photograph Haitian Eyes was taken by former Herald photographer C.W. Griffin.

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