The campus liberals are up in arms about the recent changes to North Carolina’s concealed carry laws. High on their list of objections is a new provision that allows concealed weapons permit holders to keep their guns locked in their car trunks when parked on public university property. This replaces a previous absolute ban on having guns on campus - unless, of course, you are a member of the campus law enforcement community.
There is one major objection to the new law, which, when rebutted, causes liberals to raise additional objections. I deal with that major argument and each additional argument below. After you examine them in their entirety, you may conclude (as I have concluded) that it is time to allow for the open possession of firearms on all public university campuses here in the Tar Heel State.
Argument #1. Allowing loaded guns to be stored in car trunks on campus property will result in an increase in car burglary.
This is odd, given that the anti-gun left has argued that people don't need guns on campus because a) campus crime is low and b) the campus police are fully capable of protecting people. Apparently, there is going to be a sudden outbreak of car burglary so severe that even the campus cops won't be able to handle it. That seems to be their argument. So I have a solution: Let's just lift the campus ban on concealed weapons permits altogether.
In sum, don't force people to leave guns in their trunks (by that I mean car trunks, not swimming trunks). Let them carry their weapons just like they can when they leave campus and circulate in the surrounding community. Problem solved! Giddy up cowboys!
Argument #2. Allowing concealed weapons will be dangerous in an environment where controversial ideas are debated because people may be unaware that they are arguing with an individual who is armed.
Well, the solution to that problem is simple. If we allow people to carry openly then there is no longer a question of who is carrying and who isn't. If you are having an argument and don't like the fact that your opponent has a Colt 45 on his waist then you can always go find someone else with whom to argue. Your body, your choice! Another problem solved. Can I have another giddy up?
Argument #3. Open carry is a bad idea because visible firearms clearly deter the free expression of ideas.
Finally, the left has admitted that deterrence theory has merit! These guns that somehow don't deter murder and rape actually do deter conversation. To recapitulate, a gun won't save a person from being attacked but it might prevent his ideas from being attacked.
This argument is an absurdity. It is also irrelevant. We already have visible deterrents to free speech that have decimated the marketplace of ideas in college classrooms across America. I am, of course, referring to speech codes. And some universities, like my own, are so committed to these codes that they are actually visibly displayed on classroom walls.
Walk into any classroom at UNC-Wilmington (where I teach) and you will see a framed "Seahawk Respect Compact" displayed prominently on the wall. It warns students to refrain from using any words that might be deemed "disrespectful" or "uncivil." The problem is that, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once stated, "every idea is an incitement." In other words, people can respond to any idea they don't like by complaining that it is "disrespectful" or "uncivil" - or "offensive" or "unsettling" and so on and so on. The problem is exacerbated by intolerant leftist professors who actually think these speech codes trump the constitutional rights of college students.
Put simply, our constitution protects offensive speech. It doesn't protect offended individuals.
Speech codes are a far greater threat to free speech than handguns. The reason for that is simple. No one thinks he'll be shot by a gun toting conservative just for expressing a liberal idea. But many people fear being prosecuted by a speech code toting liberal just for expressing a conservative idea.
The reality of this is that replacing "respect compacts" and other speech codes with guns would increase respect and civility in more ways than one. Both censorship and crime would decline precipitously.