Forum Left, 4/24/12

A World That’s Already Gone Crazy

By Ben Tomkins

The first thing that sticks out in my mind regarding the student group Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, is that they chose to protest outside a Starbucks because Starbucks has taken a neutral position on the issue of concealed carry on campus.

Yeah.  Neutral.  Because Starbucks refused to get involved, these people had a beef.  Now I’m sorry, but I’ve heard the words “You’re either with us or against us” used in this country before regarding our leadership and firearms, and not a single good thing came from it.  Not until Barack Obama became President anyway, and let’s be honest:  If anyone should be lobbying for carrying a weapon it’s the first black president.  Kiss my ass, Nugent.  Wango Tango sucks.

That said, I find the Starbucks thing to be extraordinarily revealing about the mindset of a group of individuals who seem to be preoccupied with self-defense.  It’s very easy and very human to view anyone who is not your friend as a potential threat.  There are many reasonable points to be made on either side, but when speaking about concealed carry, the discussion inevitably terminates for the pro-gun crowd at “I cannot ever feel 100% safe unless I have a gun with me.  Therefore I need to carry a gun.”

As an example, I was present during the Case Western shootings that took place about 10 years ago.  It was within two minutes of my apartment.  A crazy dude broke through a glass window with a sledgehammer and shot some people.  A good friend of mine actually saw the entire thing, because he was skipping a class to smoke a bowl behind another building.

We can spend the rest of our lives talking about how a gun would have made a difference, but who the hell actually knows?  Maybe it would have gotten more people killed.  Maybe it would have saved lives.   Maybe it would have done nothing.  The “what ifs” go on and on.  The glass could have also been shatterproof.  A police officer could have been in the building.    Maybe someone should have hit him with a chair.  Maybe his goddamned medication could have kicked in.  Maybe he’s afraid of clowns and Bozo happened to be in there getting a cup of coffee.  Look, a citizen with a gun is not the only solution in a world that’s already gone crazy.

But for some reason, concealed carry supporters seem to tunnel vision on the idea that the only possibly way to influence an outcome is for them to bring a gun into the picture.  It’s sad really, because when you look at data that actually exists rather than incident-specific speculation, you learn some very interesting things about guns.  Allow me:

1.  Approximately 1 in 4 people owns a gun, and the average gun owner owns at least 4 guns.
2.  66% of shootings occur in the home.
3.  For every intentional shooting in the home, there are four accidental shootings.
Conclusion:  The fact that there is a gun in the house for home defense makes it four times more likely that someone in your family will get shot.

So what does self-defense mean to you, and at what point does one have to give oneself license to “feel reasonably safe”?  I’m going with, “whatever the statistically more favorable chance of survival is.”

Look, most people can walk around New York City and feel perfectly safe.  There are places to go, and places not to go.  Things do happen in this world.  But I’ve been to OSU.  My brother went there.  I’ve been on college campuses all over the country.    They are reasonably safe places.  Safer by several orders of magnitude than the surrounding bars, by the way.  A place of higher learning should not be a venue for the promotion of paranoid and irrational fear, and the student body of a state school should have a right to engage in education without the presence of firearms.

Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist, and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colo. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of the issue. Reach Ben Tompkins at

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