Beware Gunmen: The University of Iowa is no longer a defense free zone…it has balls… tennis balls!

Let me start by saying that I applaud the University of Iowa for providing courses on what to do in the event of a gunman on campus, it is important for everyone to stay vigilant in this day and age, and be prepared for anything.  But as I read this article in this morning’s Daily Iowan, parts of it made me think that they had mistakenly ran an article straight from the Onion.

LeeAnn Yeckley entered a training room at the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety wielding a red rubber gun.

Instantly, the 22 other “potential victims” pelted the UI graduate student with yellow Styrofoam balls.

In this situation, called “the swarm,” the balls represented different objects that can be thrown at an attacker before several brave people in the room attempt to bring the person to the ground and get control of the weapon.

Iowa’s new shall issue law has resulted in many places feeling the need to declare themselves as gun free zones.  Iowa City and Johnson County have both passed ordinances banning weapons on city and county property respectively.  Not a big suprise from the city that has passed an ordinance declairing itself a nuclear weapon free zone.  North Liberty, a growing, relatively conservative town(by Johnson County standards)  just outside of Iowa City is now discussing a ban as well.  But the University’s ban on weapons is nothing new and has not changed as a result of the new law.

Certainly one option is to continue the ban on weapons and start issuing everyone a tennis ball, but maybe there is another way.  Maybe it is time to allow weapons on the campus of the University of Iowa.  It is not completely unheard of, in fact we may be seeing a slow trend towards allowing firearms on campus, instead of banning them.  Currently weapons are allowed on all campuses in Utah, based on a statewide law.  Texas will likely be the next state to join Utah.  A bill to allow firearms on all college campuses in Texas has just gained support of a majority of the Texas state house; a similar bill has already passed the state senate and Gov. Perry intends on signing the legislation.   Passage in Texas would be a huge step forward for advocates of allowing firearms on campus; Texas is home to 38 public universities and more than 500,000 students.  Eight other states including Arizona, Tennessee, Michigan, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Nebraska and Mississippi also have pending “campus carry” legislation.  And 12 others have had legislation proposed within the last few years including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota,  Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

To my knowledge and limited research, no such bill has been proposed in Iowa.  But, there is at least one student group at Iowa State University advocating for the change.  Anthony Taylor, a junior in software engineering, started the Iowa State chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus last year.  Eric Cooper, 2010 Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate, serves as the student group’s faculty advisor.

The arguments for and against allowing firearms on campus are numerous and beyond the scope of this blog entry.  If you would like to find out more, two good starting points may be Students for Concealed Carry on Campus and The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus.  But I think it is time to start the conversation here in Iowa.

Who knows, maybe I’ll open up the paper tomorrow to find that the  University Police department is being replaced by the Hawkeye women’s tennis team…I hear they are pretty good shots.

5 comments
    1. It is already illegal to have a firearm on you when you are intoxicated, I am not suggesting changing that.

  1. Hey, Matt from American Reason here.

    I think of the gun control issue as a kind of thunder storm. There are big rolling clouds that look scary, but your chances of actually being struck by lightning are practically zero. The debate stems from how you react to these real, but miniscule, dangers.

    I see problems with both approaches to combating gun violence. The anti-gun solution is like the government issuing a curfew making it illegal to go outside during the thunderstorm. They might say it’s dangerous, or that it’s just unnecessary for me to go out in a thunderstorm. The problem with that is that this it the United States of America not North Korea, and blanket prohibitions (like outlawing certain types of firearms) like that have to be extremely well justified. I have a right to engage in certain dangerous behaviors (like owning a gun, explicitly guaranteed in the second amendment), and you certainly shouldn’t be telling me I can’t do something because it’s “unnecessary”. If you want to take my hypothetical (I don’t actually own any because I decided all by my lonesome they were “unnecessary” for me) guns away for that reason then I want to take away your right to take hot showers, another “unnecessary” activity.

    That being said, the pro-guns-on-campus crowd seems to me like they’re running outside during the storm and taking shelter under the tallest tree. It might seem like a good idea to arm everyone so that responsible people can take down a loose cannon, but you are really just increasing the danger. Gun ownership is very different right than the right to go about armed wherever you want. That approach seems to me like it will to increase the likelihood of crimes of passion or alcohol fueled crimes exponentially.

    The right to “bear arms” seems to me like a check against the monopolization of power by the state, not the suggestion that everyone should walk around with twin pearl handled colt 1911’s Patton style. Own guns if you want, but be responsible with them and use them very, very sparingly as a solution to any kind of problem that might come up.

    -Matt

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