Recently, ABC’s ‘The View’ had a discussion on the Texas law that allows students who are licensed to carry firearms who do so on public college campuses and universities.
The law went into effect last year, but community colleges were given an extra year to comply.
The segment opens with Whoopi Goldberg asking the question, “Should people be worried about this?”
“Duh,” said comedian Joy Behar as co-host Sunny Hostin rolled her eyes.
Then Jedediah Bila, the show’s “conservative” voice, stepped up to defend the law. She pointed out that the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooter targeted the theater because it was a gun-free zone and that 98 percent of mass shootings occur in gun-free zones.
“I want those students who have a license to carry, who have gone through the process, who have been approved, to not be sitting ducks in those classrooms,” she said.
“What process?” Goldberg asked.
“They’re licensed, to have a gun license,” responded Bila.
“You do know that to get a gun license, you don’t have to actually learn how to shoot the gun,” Goldberg responded.
“To get a gun license? Everyone I know who has a gun license has gone through extensive shooting training,” Bila responded.
“I’m telling you, people can go and buy guns and never ever have to go to a gun range. They can have them in the house,” Goldberg said.
First, our Constitutional rights are not dependent on whether Whoopi Goldberg believes we have had sufficient training to exercise them. Second, there is no such thing as a gun license in Texas. Residents may purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns without any kind of license or training.
Texans do need a license to carry concealed handguns in the state, which probably is what Bila referred to and what must be obtained in order to bring weapons to campus. And a license to carry does require “classroom training, pass[ing] a written examination and pass[ing] a proficiency demonstration (shooting),” according to the Texas Department of Safety.
Not to be outdone, Behar said, “I have a good statistic here that our crack research team came up with … of 160 active shooter situations between 2000 and 2013 the FBI found only one case where an armed civilian intervened to stop an attack.”
Behar misquoted the story – the FBI found six occasions during which an armed person stopped an active shooter. Second, authors of the study warned not to take it out of context, which she did.
“This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement that the public may face. Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations.”
Third, the FBI study has some flaws : many of the cases on which it is based took place in gun-free zones, so law-abiding citizens would not have been able to help stop the shooter. Also, 35 of these cases were murders that resulted during or from an active shooter situation where citizens would not have been in position to help.
There is a list of 10 times a shooting was stopped by an armed civilian, as tallied by Eugene Volokh in a column in The Washington Post.
Behar then pointed out that, “statistically you are more likely to kill another civilian or yourself with a gun,” although she does not cite the source of that statistic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, guns are used 500,000–3 million times a year in self-defense but only 300,000 times a year criminally. Of the 33,000 gun deaths in America in 2015, 21,000 were suicides. That’s tragic, but it does not place others in danger of those guns.
Finally, there is the appeal of raw fear.
“What about the professors who give you an F,” Behar offered. “I’d be scared to teach in that class.”
What’s scarier is operating in schools where students can’t exercise their rights. Then, when attackers show up as they have at University of Texas, Virginia Tech and Ohio State, students have no way to defend themselves.
Brendan Cassell, an intern in the American Journalism Center internship program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia, is an incoming freshman at Texas A&M.