A professor at Boise State University was concerned about the legal ramifications of a proposed bill that would permit concealed-carried guns on Idaho’s college and university campuses, so he posed this question to state lawmakers: When may I shoot a student?
Biology and criminal justice professor Greg Hampikian used that hypothetical in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday to explore what sticky situations could arise if the bill were to pass and concealed-carried weapons were allowed on campus. From the op-ed:
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”)?
Hampikian later pointed out that the campus murder rate is “zero at present” before invoking a central tenet of the defense of gun rights: “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.”
A recent report compiled by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed Hampikian has reason to be dubious — of the 44 school shootings that have taken place in the U.S. since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 16 occurred at a college or university.
Read the full letter here.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.