Editorial
Editorial

Gun lobby misfires again with guns-on-campus proposal

The gun lobby has misfired again with an idea to allow guns on campus to discourage sexual assaults

What's the dumbest idea of the season? Backed by the National Rifle Assn., state legislators across the country have been pushing laws to let students carry concealed weapons on college campuses.

What's the lame excuse? Gun-toting young women would be armed to defend themselves in the event of sexual assaults.

We shouldn't be surprised by this. These are the same crackpots who argued in favor of more guns on campuses after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. And who held out the 2012 massacre of 26 students and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School as an argument in favor of arming teachers. Of course they're cynically twisting the latest painful, high-profile issue into an argument for more guns.

As one Nevada Assemblywoman told the New York Times: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”

Americans have a 2nd Amendment right to own guns, but it's not an absolute right. Government has a responsibility to protect public safety through reasonable gun control laws. That's proved difficult. California law generally bans guns on college campuses but exempts people with a concealed weapon permit (eligible to those over 21), according to the state attorney general's office; colleges may have their own rules barring students from possessing guns.

According to the pro-gun control Armed Campuses project, eight states currently allow concealed weapons on campuses but often ban them from such areas as dormitories. Even those rules are too permissive. College students by and large are immature young adults who often exercise poor judgment. Adding weapons to a keg party is a bad idea, which even the NRA should be able to figure out. Arguing that guns would deter campus sexual assaults also misunderstands the nature of the problem.

A 2007 report by the National Institute of Justice found that most campus sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances when one or both have been drinking or taking drugs, and the victim often is incapacitated. That's a scenario in which it's hard to see a gun playing a positive role.

The gun lobby is showing yet again that it doesn't belong in a serious conversation about ending the scourge of gun violence.

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