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On Campus Carry, We've Only Begun To Fight

Saturday, August 1, 2015

On Campus Carry, We've Only Begun To Fight

For the better part of a generation, we’ve been working to eliminate state laws that make it either difficult or impossible to legally carry a concealed handgun for protection while away from home. When we started, 40 states had those kinds of laws. Today, only eight states and the District of Columbia fit that category. Of course, we’re continuing to try to get that number to zero.

We’re also working to achieve total carry permit reciprocity among the 50 states and to defend or advance “stand your ground” laws.

The reason is simple: People have a fundamental, constitutional right to defend themselves.

More on that in a moment, but mentioning some of the ways that the National Rifle Association, its members, other gun owners and our supporters in elected offices have been validating and vindicating people’s self-defense rights brings me to an issue on which gun control supporters have been particularly irrational. I’m referring to legislation that recognizes the right of permit holders to carry firearms for protection on college and university campuses, commonly referred to as “campus carry.”

I say irrational because, in addition to predicting campus-carry laws will inspire a crime wave—the same thing they incorrectly predicted would happen if Right-to-Carry laws were passed—gun control supporters have come up with a laundry list of half-baked hypotheticals that are remarkable, even by their usual line of reasoning.

Newsweek, which has a history of publishing wild exaggerations that are designed to scare people into supporting gun control, recently printed what is probably the most outlandish of these “what ifs” to date: the idea that if permit holders are allowed to carry on campus, professors will “be forced to give‘A’grades to undeserving students, just so they can avoid being shot.” 

Clearly, Newsweek has descended to a new level of fear-mongering to promote its anti-gun agenda. The notion that otherwise law-abiding college students would use strong-arm tactics and extortion to generate a high grade-point average is simply absurd.

College administrators and faculty members have joined the fray, claiming that campus carry will lead to all manner of criminal and negligent misuse of firearms. But you and I know better. We know that campus carry doesn’t lead to problems, because permit holders have proven time and again—in state after state—to be even more law-abiding than the citizenry at large.

Interestingly, most college websites have pages devoted to describing—in extremely positive terms—the outstanding merit and talents of the student body, administration and faculty. Given that fact, one would think most college administrators would trust their excellent students, faculty and staff members with campus carry. 

Instead, they make essentially the same argument that the District of Columbia’s attorney general recently made after the U.S. District Court for D.C. struck down the requirement of a “good reason” before issuing carry permits. In the attorney general’s words, “The risk of a gun-related tragedy—accidental or deliberate … outweighs [prospective permit holders’] speculative fears about any imminent need to defend themselves from a random, public attack.”

Contrast these cynical views with the optimism of Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, who told the Texas Legislature that he has “complete trust and faith” in his students and professors as he explained why the Aggies “will not oppose campus carry.” Sharp is to be commended for bucking his academic counterparts and publicly expressing his trust of law-abiding citizens on the A&M campus.

As I discuss elsewhere in this issue, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision establishes that the right to arms derives from the right to self-defense, and the majority of Americans support gun ownership for this reason. This is why, although they’ll never admit it, gun control supporters know their only chance of disarming Americans depends on undermining anything related to the defensive use of guns. 

On the issue of self-defense, gun control supporters have been on a losing streak of epic proportions. With your help, we’ll keep that streak intact.

Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

Former NRA-ILA Executive Director

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Chris W. Cox served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, until 2019. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversaw eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.