I don’t often write about gun issues; there are more than enough pro-2nd Amendment voices out there to cover that beat and, I admit, some part of me wishes it would vanish as a political issue. (I say that as someone who owns about a dozen guns, from pistols to shotguns to “assault weapons” and am quite capable with each of them.)
On Monday, Hillary Clinton brought out her “gun control” plans. Frankly, they’re not worth much discussion because there is simply no chance that her wish list will become reality, especially her outrageous desire to allow gun manufacturers to be sued for crimes committed with the guns they’ve made. The plan is nothing more than her continued tacking leftward toward Bernie Sanders (as of now ever so slightly to Hillary’s right on guns) and the specter of Joe Biden as she tries to cling to the Democratic nomination. Her threatening to use executive actions if Congress does not act reminds us of the tyrannical nature of the political left. Meanwhile, the public drifts steadily toward valuing the Second Amendment over controlling gun ownership.
But it’s news from last week that I simply can’t get past.
As I’ve listened — over and over — to comments made by Umpqua Community College interim president Dr. Rita Cavin following the mass shooting on her campus, I find myself becoming ever more furious with the mindlessness of those, especially in liberal academe, who oppose a rational use of guns.
Much as it is difficult to know whether a criminal’s actions represent immorality or amorality, I don’t know whether Cavin actively dislikes guns or is just ignorant of them. But putting aside partisanship, politics, and even an appropriate constitutional defense of the right to bear arms and instead writing solely as a parent, I imagine a special place in hell for people so blindly willing to risk the lives of our young and not-so-young students in the name of a “welcoming community.”
When Dr. Cavin was asked whether there was security on campus, she gave a long rambling answer about a “security officer and a security team” and a “plan in place” and people who “did exactly what they were supposed to do.” She neglected to add, until a reporter asked specifically, that “we don’t have armed security.”
Oregon state law prevents the college from banning lawful concealed carry permit holders from having weapons on campus (so it is not technically a gun-free zone) but there is a gray area when it comes to whether the school may punish students — as it currently may in its Student Code of Conduct — for carrying a concealed weapon without “written authorization” from the school, something I doubt would be forthcoming under Cavin’s tenure. Indeed, there was an armed (law-abiding) student elsewhere on campus during the shooting.
But while the legalities are murky, the practicality and morality are crystal clear: In these days of lunatics shooting up target-rich environments, particularly those thought of as gun-free, you are not providing security if your “security team” is unarmed. If anything, the false impression of security, to the extent that it deters people from being prepared to defend themselves, may be worse than having no security at all.
Crazy people are crazy and we don’t know for sure that this man would have been prevented from attempting his maniacal act had he known there were armed guards at Umpqua. So even all of the above isn’t what has me as angry as I’ve ever been with the leader of any institution.
That came at the end of the press conference, when Dr. Cavin was asked if she intended to change the school’s security policy, i.e. to arm security guards, to which she gave a response that may have the dubious honor of offering the most evil answer in the most pleasant words that I’ve ever heard:
“No, no. This is an anomaly. It’s a tragedy and it’s an anomaly. And, no. We have a beautiful, warm, friendly, loving campus and we intend to keep it that way.”
Beyond the inappropriate description of the campus in such glowing terms while victims of the mass shooting were still bleeding and beyond the cluelessness of saying that a guard having a (potentially concealed) weapon would dilute the school’s various charms, Cavin’s answer represents a detachment from reality so stark that one isn’t surprised to find it in a career “educator” with a master’s degree in Library Science who seems never to have had a real-world job. (Can someone tell me why people like this are allowed to mold our future leaders’ minds?)
Of course the shooting is an anomaly. If it weren’t an anomaly, every college, even Dr. Cavin’s, would look like the DMZ.
What do you think Dr. Cavin would say if a member of the college’s Board of Trustees proposed eliminating the school’s fire insurance because a bad fire would be “an anomaly and a tragedy”? She would reject it out of hand even though, as far as I know, Umpqua Community College has never had a major fire, because even a person as unclever as she recognizes that the purpose of insurance is to protect against high-cost unforeseeable events.
You may scoff at this suggestion but it is more sensible than having unarmed security guards because the insurance policy must cost the college a fair amount of money whereas security guards — including retired law enforcement — are already on the payroll. The cost of having armed security guards in this case is only the cost of the weapons, a few bullets, a bit of occasional training, and a gun safe.
I’m sure the heroic Chris Mintz would pay for it himself, out of the tremendous generosity shown him by people across the country. Otherwise you could pay for it all many times over by eliminating UCC’s fire insurance for a few months — or employee health insurance for a few weeks. How about that, Dr. Cavin? Isn’t a terrible disease a “tragic anomaly”? Why defend against your employees getting sick but not your students getting dead?
Having an unarmed security guard is like having a health insurance policy with a $100,000 deductible: it may be called insurance, but in the most critical situations it is functionally worthless.
During my Saturday radio show, again thinking solely as a parent, I was nearly screaming on the air exhorting Dr. Cavin and those in similar positions to “Protect our children!”
It’s a level of anger I have rarely felt at a “public servant.”
It’s one thing for someone to misunderstand the value of a weapon of self-defense if the issue is, despite many horrendous news stories in recent years, distant enough to a particular liberal to seem theoretical.
But when someone whose school just became the scene of a massacre responds to questions about why her security guards will remain unarmed by saying that she does not want to disturb her “welcoming” campus, that is no longer a sign of cute liberal detachment or good intentions but of evil. Worse than the good men in Burke’s warning who allow evil to triumph by doing nothing. Rather an overt message to madmen everywhere that students are better as cannon fodder than as living, thriving human beings if preventing the atrocity means Cavin’s feeling that a campus is less “loving.” Has there ever been a more twisted sort of love?
Sweet-sounding words can’t mask the stench of such cravenness and callousness.
(A personal note: As a professional writer, I rarely feel deeply that I “must” write about any given issue. Politics and public policy are, as a mafia don might put it, “just business.” But as someone whose children will one day be in college, this story has been bothering me for days and I feel compelled to write this down; I hope you understand.)
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