Don’t Take Your Guns to School Son

The following opinion piece appeared in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times. It also has been posted at several other sites. Written in the form of a letter, Greg Hampikian, a Professor at Boise State, asks the question:

When May I Shoot a Student?

Shoot HoopsBOISE, Idaho — TO the chief counsel of the Idaho State Legislature:

In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?

I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.

I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.

At present, the harshest penalty available here at Boise State is expulsion, used only for the most heinous crimes, like cheating on Scantron exams. But now that lethal force is an option, I need to know which infractions may be treated as de facto capital crimes.

I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?

If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?

While our city police chief has expressed grave concerns about allowing guns on campus, I would point out that he already has one. I’m glad that you were not intimidated by him, and did not allow him to speak at the public hearing on the bill (though I really enjoyed the 40 minutes you gave to the National Rifle Association spokesman).

Knee-jerk reactions from law enforcement officials and university presidents are best set aside. Ignore, for example, the lame argument that some drunken frat boys will fire their weapons in violation of best practices. This view is based on stereotypical depictions of drunken frat boys, a group whose dignity no one seems willing to defend.

The problem, of course, is not that drunken frat boys will be armed; it is that they are drunken frat boys. Arming them is clearly not the issue. They would cause damage with or without guns. I would point out that urinating against a building or firing a few rounds into a sorority house are both violations of the same honor code.

In terms of the campus murder rate — zero at present — I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Which is why encouraging guns on campus makes so much sense. Bad guys go where there are no guns, so by adding guns to campus more bad guys will spend their year abroad in London. Britain has incredibly restrictive laws — their cops don’t even have guns! — and gun deaths there are a tiny fraction of what they are in America. It’s a perfect place for bad guys.

Some of my colleagues are concerned that you are encouraging firearms within a densely packed concentration of young people who are away from home for the first time, and are coincidentally the age associated with alcohol and drug experimentation, and the commission of felonies.

Once again, this reflects outdated thinking about students. My current students have grown up learning responsible weapon use through virtual training available on the Xbox and PlayStation. Far from being enamored of violence, many studies have shown, they are numb to it. These creative young minds will certainly be stimulated by access to more technology at the university, items like autoloaders, silencers and hollow points. I am sure that it has not escaped your attention that the library would make an excellent shooting range, and the bookstore could do with fewer books and more ammo choices.

I want to applaud the Legislature’s courage. On a final note: I hope its members will consider my amendment for bulletproof office windows and faculty body armor in Boise State blue and orange.

You can read this piece as a very effective comment on the lunacy taking over in parts of America, but you can also approach it objectively as one of the best recent examples of snarky satire. So read the “letter” and enjoy it as a strong example of good old American humor … even if the topic of guns on campus is hardly a laughing matter.

NogunsI still wonder: if the Whackness is destroying our Democracy, is it more effective to point out the ridiculousness of Republican/Conservative/Tea Party approach—to laugh at the idiocracy—or should more Progressives adopt the tactics of the Right-Wing and open-up a large can of Whoop-Ass before engaging in any further discussion. After all, the sound of a fresh round being thrust into the firing chamber might result in a more conciliatory opposition. Should “Lock and Load” be reserved only for the delusional Red Dawn crowd and for those that yearn to re-fight the War Between the States?

I’m afraid I’ll have to stay with the satire—exposing lies and prevarications—and leave the Neanderthal tactics to the Right Wing, their morally bankrupt but obscenely rich backers, and the friends they have in low places … like Ted Nugent.

featherline

Remember? It could be your son …

“Don’t Take Your Guns To Town”

A young cowboy named Billy Joe grew restless on the farm
A boy filled with wonderlust who really meant no harm
He changed his clothes and shined his boots
And combed his dark hair down
And his mother cried as he walked out

[Chorus]
Don’t take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don’t take your guns to town

He laughed and kissed his mom
And said your Billy Joe’s a man
I can shoot as quick and straight as anybody can
But I wouldn’t shoot without a cause
I’d gun nobody down
But she cried again as he rode away

[Chorus]
Don’t take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don’t take your guns to town

He sang a song as on he rode
His guns hung at his hips
He rode into a cattle town
A smile upon his lips
He stopped and walked into a bar
And laid his money down
But his mother’s words echoed again

[Chorus]
Don’t take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don’t take your guns to town

He drank his first strong liquor then to calm his shaking hand
And tried to tell himself he had become a man
A dusty cowpoke at his side began to laugh him down
And he heard again his mothers words

[Chorus]
Don’t take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don’t take your guns to town

Filled with rage then
Billy Joe reached for his gun to draw
But the stranger drew his gun and fired
Before he even saw
As Billy Joe fell to the floor
The crowd all gathered ’round
And wondered at his final words

[Chorus]
Don’t take your guns to town son
Leave your guns at home Bill
Don’t take your guns to town

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