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The University of the Totally Disarmed:

Many universities ban firearms, but some research I've been doing reveals that some universities ban firearms and stun guns and chemical defensive sprays, either in dorm rooms or in the university as a whole. This basically leaves students entirely without any defensive weapons, and also has the effect of disarming dorm residents when they go off campus property, since they have no place to store the defensive weapons when they're back on campus.

This strikes me as quite shocking, especially with regard to women students who are in the age range where the danger of rape is at its highest. The university basically leaves them as sitting ducks, unless they're willing to violate the university policy. Even if the university tries to compensate by offering a good deal of on-campus policing (some do and some don't), it surely can't protect the students when they leave campus.

Some of the universities I've found that do this are Cornell, Duke, NYU, Hofstra, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (though perhaps only limited to "carrying" rather than possessing in a dorm room), Bridgewater State College (likewise possibly limited to "carrying"), and University of Maryland-University College, but there are many more. Here is the explanation from Cornell for its ban (Cornell confirms that the policy remains in place today):

[P]epper spray still falls within Campus Code of Conduct language which makes it a violation to "possess, carry, or use firearms, ... ammunition, explosives, or other dangerous weapons, instruments, or substances in or upon University premises." Even though a person might possess a permit to carry a gun in the city of Ithaca, that person is not permitted to carry the gun at Cornell. Similarly, even though New York state law permits the carrying of pepper spray within the state in general, carrying this substance is not permitted on the Cornell campus.

Some people in the community may feel that this reading of the Campus Code of Conduct denies them a legitimate means of protection. While pepper spray can provide a means of protection, certain other facts indicate its limitations. Those facts include:

  • Pepper spray canisters are unreliable in cold weather.

  • If sprayed into the wind, the effects intended for the assailant can instead affect the victim, rendering the victim even more helpless than she or he was originally.

  • Pepper spray may be lethal to those with asthma or other respiratory problems.

  • Use of pepper spray for any purpose other than self-defense (for example, as a prank) — or use of the spray against a police officer — constitutes a criminal offense. Even lawful use of pepper spray may result in legal action against the user if a medical emergency results.

One of the biggest concerns is that people will place unjustified reliance on pepper spray and will forget other safety precautions that may provide even greater security. Those precautions include:

  • Walk in well-lit areas with a friend.

  • Keep car keys accessible at all times.

  • If you must walk alone, walk with a strong, confident stance.

  • Carry a whistle, and use it or yell if confronted or attacked.

  • Educate yourself on self-defense techniques.

Lovely: You might overrely on pepper spray, and you might misuse it (though of course people can misuse "self-defense techniques" as well). So we won't let you have any defensive weapons at all, and instead suggest — as our first suggestion — that you instead limit where you go, and ask for protection from others (whether by walking with them or yelling for help).

In Massachusetts, by the way, the state bill of rights begins with, "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties ...." I know of no caselaw on the subject there, but there are many court decisions in other states interpreting such constitutional provisions as in fact securing an individual right. What happens to the right to defend life and liberty of students at Bridgewater and University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth students? It's reduced to (in the words of the Bridgewater policy) the right to "stay aware of their surroundings and perhaps even learn self-defense."

UPDATE: I originally noted that the Cornell explanation was of 1997, and I wasn't sure whether the Cornell pepper spray ban was still in effect — I e-mailed the Cornell people about it, and they've confirmed that it is indeed in effect. I've updated the post accordingly.

ruuffles (mail) (www):

also has the effect of disarming dorm residents when they go off campus property, since they have no place to store the defensive weapons when they're back on campus

I don't understand this logic. Why does the university have any obligation to what occurs off campus property? If you ride a bike or walk to work, does the employer have the obligation of giving you a locker or other secure storage for your firearm?
4.10.2009 11:38am
ruuffles (mail) (www):
By the way, many of the colleges you named (though not UMass) are private. Unless Congress blackmails them with federal funding (like they did with military recruiting access), why don't they have the right to set their own policies on their own property?
4.10.2009 11:42am
cboldt (mail):
-- I don't understand this logic. Why does the university have any obligation to what occurs off campus property? --
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They don't. I took the comment as a value-free observation, that students who live on campus lack the sort of "at home storage" facility that others have.
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But the students choose to put themselves in a disarmed condition by signing up to go to that school, so as far as I'm concerned, they can pound sand.
4.10.2009 11:47am
Civil Disobedience:
Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. That is all.
4.10.2009 11:52am
CDU (mail) (www):

But the students choose to put themselves in a disarmed condition by signing up to go to that school, so as far as I'm concerned, they can pound sand.

This is only really valid if there are alternative schools available nearby with different weapons policies.
4.10.2009 11:52am
Malvolio:
But the students choose to put themselves in a disarmed condition by signing up to go to that school, so as far as I'm concerned, they can pound sand.
Uh, why? Just because someone has the legal right to do something doesn't make that something a good idea.
This is only really valid if there are alternative schools available nearby with different weapons policies.
Uh, why? It isn't like the student has some moral right to a nearby, private, college education.
Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.
A very, very chubby friend of mine once told me that, and I almost popped a blood vessel keeping myself from blurting out, "Or in your case, by eight."

But I understand some schools forbid drinking by students under 21. I wonder how well that works out.
4.10.2009 11:59am
Adam J:
cboldt - "But the students choose to put themselves in a disarmed condition by signing up to go to that school, so as far as I'm concerned, they can pound sand."

Right, because every student should be forced to read the minutia of a university's rules and regulations before signing up. If we spent the time necessary to learn every rule and law that we voluntarily subject ourselves to, we'd have no time for anything else.
4.10.2009 12:09pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
About the time the Duke Lax hoax started up, I went online to check their campus paper. Ads for pepper spray were prominent. WTF?
'crats are always happier with victims. Gives them reasons for more restrictions on the citizenry and more money for "programs". Also, you can go to the funeral and look ostentatiously solemn.
Whatcha gonna do with a woman who offs a couple of would-be rapists. I mean, besides try to prosecute her?
No reason for restrictions on the law-abiding and no justification for funding requests.
Reduced infantilization of the citizenry.
Lose all around.
4.10.2009 12:18pm
Rock Chocklett:
I disagree with the campus policies forbidding virtually all forms of self-defense tools. But I wonder: Is it unreasonable for the university to make the decision that the risk of misuse or over-reliance on these weapons is greater than the risk of successful assaults if the students don't have the weapons?
4.10.2009 12:19pm
JKB:
Well, if security is important to the student or their parents, then they should seek out the schools crime statistics as well as any rules impacting the right to self defense. University selection is not based on academic program alone and is often driven by extracurricular activities, proximity to off-campus recreation, etc. Why not also consider safety?

Now, what is needed is some enterprising person to create a website with University crime statistics and a summary of personal defense restrictions from their code of conduct. They they could provide a Rape, Murder, Mugging rating for the schools along with school imposed restrictions on student self-protection. I'm sure the schools would welcome such ratings for the help it would give prospective students.
4.10.2009 12:21pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
I don't understand this logic. Why does the university have any obligation to what occurs off campus property? If you ride a bike or walk to work, does the employer have the obligation of giving you a locker or other secure storage for your firearm?

In the case of private employers and the legal obligation, obviously not.

But we're not talking private employers here; at least some of these schools are public, and thus legally bound by the Constitution of the United States and the state constitution. Nor are we merely talking legal obligation; we're talking practical results.
4.10.2009 12:26pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Now, what is needed is some enterprising person to create a website with University crime statistics and a summary of personal defense restrictions from their code of conduct.

http://ope.ed.gov/security/

The first part was done by the *gasp* government.
4.10.2009 12:27pm
AJK:
I don't think anyone is trying to argue that the private schools don't have a right to implement these polices, but that doesn't mean that they're good ideas, and it doesn't mean we shouldn't want to see them changed.
4.10.2009 12:27pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
The Duke provision states:

In accordance with North Carolina General Statute 14-269.2, no firearms, incendiary devices, explosives, fireworks, highly flammable materials or substances, or any articles that may be used as offensive weapons may be in the CCA or on the campus. This includes knives, slingshots, clubs, pellet guns, rifles, BB guns, mace, and all firearms and items of like kind.

It is unclear to me how much discretion on this issue that the NC legislature has allowed for Duke to hold.
4.10.2009 12:27pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
4.10.2009 12:29pm
DCP:


By the way, many of the colleges you named (though not UMass) are private... why don't they have the right to set their own policies on their own property?


Just because they have the right doesn't mean it's sound policy. They have the right to teach a class called Neo-Naziism 101: Hitler was the greatest guy ever. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Also, the list of alternatives to carrying pepper spray is absurd. "walk with a strong, confident stance." LOL. I'm sure THAT will frighten off some graduate of the local penal institution. Some 18 year old chess club nerd, or 100 lb girl staggering back to her dorm room with a John Wayne gait.

Also, I really don't understand all this emphasis on self-defense classes for women. The physical and hormonal differences between a man and woman are so extreme that I honestly can't see any benefit to them whatsoever. It's almost like some twisted branch of feminism, where they are determined to prove they are just as tough as men.

As a betting man, I would place my wager on the male attacker 99% of the time against a female self-defense intructor and I would walk away a rich man. On the other hand, I would place my bet on the woman holding a can of pepper spray about 95% of the time. I've seen first hand what that stuff can do.
4.10.2009 12:30pm
Donny:
I find this post to be a little disingenuous.

I'm quite sure that EV is aware that a huge proportion of society believes that an individual's right to self-defense does not outweigh the interest in reducing overall social harm. That is the underlying rationale for most gun restrictions. Anyone who knows the gun control debate as well as EV does should not find it "quite shocking" to learn that this social welfare rationale is popular among private university administrators.

And what's the ultimate point? You disagree with the notion that social good can be weighed against the individual right of self-defense. Well, who among us didn't already know that was EV's position on the matter?
4.10.2009 12:34pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Stephen Carlson: The North Carolina statute doesn't ban defensive sprays -- only the Duke policy does that.
4.10.2009 12:35pm
Oren:
Retractable batons are usually the way to go -- most states allow them to be carried and you can put them on the outside of your belt (hence no "concealed" issues) but they don't look like a weapon.
4.10.2009 12:35pm
johnny_coli:
The Mass public universities are pretty crime-free, so I'm not sure what advantage having armed students walking around there'd be. How do the "unarmed" Universities in Mass (or any "unarmed" University)compare, crime-wise, with the ones that allow students to carry weapons?

Using the US Dept of Ed Campus Security Data Analysis tool, and plugging in a search of all 4 year + institutions in Mass (and opening it up to include any enrollment numbers and any program), it returns 176 institutions, both public and private. Contrary to Spinal Taps' view, Massachusetts is very much a "college town." And looking at the aggregated data, there haven't been any murders in three years (as far back as it will pull up), an average of 119 sex offenses per year (across 176 institutions), avg 9 robberies (per year), avg 76 aggravated assaults, 900 burglaries, virtually no motor vehicle theft, 9 arsons.

I have no idea which schools outside of Mass allow students to arm themselves on campus or in their dorms, so I'll leave a direct comparison up to someone who isn't at work right now. However, I just don't see how allowing the students (and there are a lot of them in Mass) to arm themselves would cut down on any of those crime stats. A good number of those schools are located in urban areas, ie Boston University, Boston College, Harvard. Having taught while doing graduate work at one of them (bacteriologist, not a lawyer), I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.
4.10.2009 12:37pm
alkali (mail):
This strikes me as quite shocking, especially with regard to women students who are in the age range where the danger of rape is at its highest.

Whether or not this is "shocking" surely depends at least in part on whether students at those universities face a signficant risk of violent crime.

To take one example, Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York. In most years, there are no murders in Ithaca at all. (It's not clear that a Cornell student has been murdered on or near campus in living memory, although I suppose it may have happened.) Likewise for Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
4.10.2009 12:37pm
ShelbyC:
cbolt:

But the students choose to put themselves in a disarmed condition by signing up to go to that school, so as far as I'm concerned, they can pound sand.



Well, in the case of public universities they sure didn't choose to pay for the schools.

So if you want to use the services you pay for without leaving yourself completely prone to every pervert you get to pound sand. Nice.
4.10.2009 12:38pm
Javert:
[Running away from your assailant] still falls within Campus Code of Conduct language which makes it a violation to "run, hop or skip away from attackers." Even though a person might [at times run in] the city of Ithaca, that person is not permitted to [run away] at Cornell. Similarly, even though New York state law permits the [running away from assailants, this activity] is not permitted on the Cornell campus.

Some people in the community may feel that this reading of the Campus Code of Conduct denies them a legitimate means of protection. While [running away] can provide a means of protection, certain other facts indicate its limitations. Those facts include:

*

[Running is unreliable when done so while fully clothed.]
*

[If you trip while running,] the effects intended for the assailant can instead affect the victim, rendering the victim even more helpless than she or he was originally.
*

[Running] may be lethal to those with asthma or other respiratory problems.
*

[The use of running to taunt a dog] -- [or to escape] a police officer -- constitutes a criminal offense. Even lawful use of [running] may result in legal action against the [runner] if [the assailant experiences] a medical emergency [while chasing you].
4.10.2009 12:46pm
corneille1640 (mail):

Also, I really don't understand all this emphasis on self-defense classes for women. The physical and hormonal differences between a man and woman are so extreme that I honestly can't see any benefit to them whatsoever. It's almost like some twisted branch of feminism, where they are determined to prove they are just as tough as men.

I still think self-defense classes for women are a good idea, even if by themselves they are not sufficient to fully protect women.
4.10.2009 12:48pm
wfjag:
According to Fisher, Bonnie S., Francis T. Cullen, and Michael G. Turner, The sexual victimization of college women. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (2000), Exhibit 3 at pg. 11, the rate of rapes and attempted rapes of women in college is a little over 35 per 1,000 per academic year. Report available at www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf.

For businesses, not allowing people to take reasonable and lawful measures for self-protection is a basis for possible tort liability. Maybe, after a couple of big judgments and settlements, small arms and hand-to-hand training will become a mandatory first semester course for frosh women, who will also get a can of pepper spray in their admission packets.

But, maybe not. You are discussing academia. The Sisterhood Victimhood is Powerful!
4.10.2009 12:50pm
alkali (mail):
For businesses, not allowing people to take reasonable and lawful measures for self-protection is a basis for possible tort liability.

Really?
4.10.2009 12:56pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun. --
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Ignorance is bliss, perhaps.
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-- So if you want to use the services you pay for without leaving yourself completely prone to every pervert you get to pound sand. --
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I think the regulation is bad policy and counterproductive. But I find the position of a person who goes to the school, then complains about the policy, to be similar to the person who moves next to a pig farm then complains about the smell.
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There are a significant number of states that I would never live in, based on their policies NY, CA, IL, MA, CT come to mind. Choice of school is no different. If avoiding being disarmed is important (and you are unwilling to practice civil disobedience), pick a different school.
4.10.2009 12:56pm
Oren:

Having taught while doing graduate work at one of them (bacteriologist, not a lawyer), I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.

I lecture in MA too, and I wouldn't object to any of the various nonlethal devices also forbidden -- pepper spray, stun weapons ...
4.10.2009 1:06pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

I have no idea which schools outside of Mass allow students to arm themselves on campus or in their dorms, so I'll leave a direct comparison up to someone who isn't at work right now.

Utah has both legislation and a SC ruling

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah has signed compromise legislation that will allow students in the state’s college dormitories to choose not to room with gun owners, but will not permit colleges to ban concealed weapons on their campuses. The law ends a long-running dispute in which colleges said they had the authority to ban guns in order to maintain safety and protect academic freedom. The legislative compromise came about after the state’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the University of Utah could not ban guns on its campus in defiance of a state gun-rights law.

link
4.10.2009 1:14pm
luagha:

I have the right to learn self defense.

Okay, now that I've learned self defense, I've discovered that the best way to defend myself is to have pepper spray and firearms available to me at all times so I can choose what is best in any particular self-defense scenario. What do I do now?
4.10.2009 1:15pm
Joe Gator (mail):
To take one example, Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York. In most years, there are no murders in Ithaca at all. (It's not clear that a Cornell student has been murdered on or near campus in living memory, although I suppose it may have happened.) Likewise for Dartmouth, Massachusetts.


How many "unwarranted uses of pepper spray/stun guns" incidents have occurred on college campuses in Ithaca, Dartmouth, Massachusetts?
4.10.2009 1:18pm
Helen:
cboldt:

I wonder why Connecticut is on your prohibited list, while New Jersey, for example, is not. Connecticut's concealed carry law, like Alabama's, is technically "may issue" but virtually shall-issue in practice: There is no requirement to demonstrate "need." The portion of the public holding permits to carry is higher than in all but three other states. While private property owners may, of course, prohibit firearms on their premises, the places prohibited under state statutes are very limited.
4.10.2009 1:20pm
Sigivald (mail):

However, I just don't see how allowing the students (and there are a lot of them in Mass) to arm themselves would cut down on any of those crime stats. A good number of those schools are located in urban areas, ie Boston University, Boston College, Harvard. Having taught while doing graduate work at one of them (bacteriologist, not a lawyer), I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.


What does the urbanity of the area have to do with the victimization of college students known-to-be-disarmed vs. possibly-armed?

All the studies I know of suggest that criminals (of the habitual variety, at least) are well aware of the possibility of armed resistance (or the lack thereof) and take it into account; the idea that it just makes no difference in the case of students because the campus is "urban" is baseless, to the best of my knowledge. Can you explain its basis?

Further, what does lecturing have to do with the students being armed? You are aware that some of them probably had a gun despite it being illegal, right? (Criminally-minded students will of course ignore such laws; as will some generally law-abiding ones who view the regulations in question as illiberal and morally repugnant.)

At first glance I get the impression of an attempt at a "they'd shoot me because they didn't like my lecture" joke, but I'm not going to assume that ... but that leaves me wondering what the point of the observation about the lecture was.

(And the entire thing reminds me of recent comments about how having it be legal to carry a gun into a church was a terrible idea... despite the fact that the regular parishioners are the least dangerous group one could really want, and that such a ban of course never stops someone intent on slaughter.

Such bans are, however, excellent at preventing the law-abiding from reacting to such a person with anything other than panic or a brave but quite likely futile unarmed attack. This was demonstrated just last year, was it not, when a church shooter was stopped by an armed non-police response.

Disarming The People does not make them safer. Never has. Never will, at least in any plausible hypothetical future.)
4.10.2009 1:21pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I find this post to be a little disingenuous.

I'm quite sure that EV is aware that a huge proportion of society believes that an individual's right to self-defense does not outweigh the interest in reducing overall social harm. That is the underlying rationale for most gun restrictions. Anyone who knows the gun control debate as well as EV does should not find it "quite shocking" to learn that this social welfare rationale is popular among private university administrators.
As applied to firearms, perhaps. But as applied to pepper spray? Can you identify any actual social harm from carrying pepper spray?
4.10.2009 1:23pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Having taught while doing graduate work at one of them (bacteriologist, not a lawyer), I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.
So, in other words, it's pure hysteria, with no rational basis at all. (Hint: you already know that any or all "could" be carrying a gun. These rules prevent people from carrying guns "legally"/authorizedly. They don't prevent people from carrying guns. And anybody who is likely to shoot someone with a gun in the middle of your lecture probably doesn't care about the rule in the first place.) (Although I suppose if your lectures are really bad, you might worry about suicides during lectures.)

And does your paranoia extend to pepper spray? Do you think a rogue student in your lecture class might suddenly cause your eyes to water?
4.10.2009 1:27pm
SeaDrive:

But the students choose to put themselves in a disarmed condition by signing up to go to that school, so as far as I'm concerned, they can pound sand.


The discussion is about rights, not privileges. You would not ask students to deny themselves the right vote in order to attend college, nor do they give up the right to free speech (Well, that's the law, many examples to the contrary).

Dartmouth, Massachusetts

And then, of course, there is Hanover, New Hampshire.
4.10.2009 1:30pm
cboldt (mail):
-- I wonder why Connecticut is on your prohibited list, while New Jersey, for example, is not. --
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I overlooked NJ when composing my "off the top of my head" list.
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I'll admit that my preferences are entirely personal. But states don't have feelings, so I don't feel a need to exercise much care in harboring dislike for a state's policies. "May issue" as to CCW is sufficient to keep me from seriously considering taking up residence in a state.
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I figure the animus is mutual. The degree of personal freedom that I prefer to have is more freedom than many state authorities intend to give their subjects. Rather than move in and create mutual annoyance, I just stay away.
4.10.2009 1:33pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

You would not ask students to deny themselves the right vote in order to attend college, nor do they give up the right to free speech (Well, that's the law, many examples to the contrary).

Can you cite any case that forces colleges to have voting sites on their property or put up student's fliers on their walls? (public colleges excluded of course.)
4.10.2009 1:33pm
ShelbyC:

And does your paranoia extend to pepper spray? Do you think a rogue student in your lecture class might suddenly cause your eyes to water?


Well, there is the potential for misuse. Kid decides his snack isn't spicey enough...
4.10.2009 1:39pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
On a side comment what pisses me off about many university violence/attack protection programs like offering night shuttle services is that they actually increase the risk to the university population at large in the name of putting on a good show.

Let's consider the impact of a night safety shuttle. With the possible exception of a few universities in very bad areas no one honestly expects every attractive young woman to take such a shuttle. Indeed, at every university I've been at you can wander around campus or dorms at any hour and find a few pretty young woman walking on their own, especially since such services don't provide transit home from parties (where imparement likely raises the danger).

So what is the net effect of a night safety shuttle? It doesn't rob a potential rapist of targets or even temptation. Instead it merely makes the environment less safe by making campus slightly more deserted.

Should people who want to take extra safety precautions have that option? Sure. But neither students (through tuition) nor the university should be paying money for programs that seem likely to increase the net incidence of attacks.

So while I don't know which way to go on the issue presented here the above issue does convince me it probably wasn't thought through very carefully in any case.
4.10.2009 1:40pm
cboldt (mail):
-- You would not ask students to deny themselves the right vote in order to attend college --
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Of course not. What college does THAT?
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The law says a college can prohibit the possession of certain self-defensive means. Nobody is forced to go to that college, so nobody is forced to give up those means of self defense.
4.10.2009 1:44pm
DennisN (mail):

Also, I really don't understand all this emphasis on self-defense classes for women. The physical and hormonal differences between a man and woman are so extreme that I honestly can't see any benefit to them whatsoever.


I agree. "Self Defense" classes are generally a waste of time. Most people don't have the killer instinct to engage in hand to hand combat. That's what it is, combat, potentially to the death. If you don't come away from the training with an eagerness to slit throats (only exaggerating a little) you've made your life more dangerous.

Hand to hand combat with a violent perp is almost suicidally dangerous. Victims would be better served learning techniques of passive acceptance, and practicing the 100 yard dash.

If you think you are going to get your attacker to run away, then you should leave your pepper spray and stun gun in the sock drawer. They will get you hurt. If you are willing to eviscerate someone and choke them with their intestines, if you are willing to gouge out an eye, if you are willing to hug your assailant while he convulses and bleeds out, stabbing him in the kidneys the whole time, then maybe you should consider hand to hand combat.

Size matters, as does strength. The typical female victim is smaller, weaker, and probably less mean than her opponent. He likes to fight and is not deterred by a few bruises. If you're not willing to taste the blood, avoid fighting.

A F(r)iend, who is a martial arts (not self defense) instructor once said, "If you come home from training and you've not been beat to snot, you've wasted your evening." That's the level you have to train at if you plan to fight. A "self defense" class that does not emphasize the ruthlessness of hand to hand combat is nothing more than a false security blanket.

The only self defense class that makes sense for most people, occurs on the pistol range.
4.10.2009 1:47pm
Fredrik Nyman XXX (mail):
University of Maryland University College is mostly virtual.

It focuses on adult education. Back when I was a student there, the classes were mostly taught at the main UM campus in College Park at night and on weekends, but they also had classes at military bases like Fort Meade and at the Pentagon.
4.10.2009 1:48pm
TruePath (mail) (www):

As applied to firearms, perhaps. But as applied to pepper spray? Can you identify any actual social harm from carrying pepper spray?


I don't know what kind of college you went to but I sure as hell can imagine a lot of misuse.
----

Drunk Guy 1: "Nah, man pepper spray doesn't hurt that much."

Drunk Guy 2: "Hell yah it does if it gets in your eyes."

Drunk Guy 1: "No way, my cousin was totally sprayed in the face once and it was no big deal."

Drunk Guy 2: "I bet you wouldn't let me spray you for $50"

----

That's not even contemplating the fun mixture of things like tazers and illicit drugs. One of the important social roles that college plays in student's lives is giving them a relatively safe place to experiment (yes with drinking/smoking too much too).
4.10.2009 1:48pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Yes, Frederik Nyman is right. UMUC only has one building as a "campus" per se. There is no resident population, and no dorms.
4.10.2009 1:53pm
DennisN (mail):

I don't know what kind of college you went to but I sure as hell can imagine a lot of misuse.
----

Drunk Guy 1: "Nah, man pepper spray doesn't hurt that much."

Drunk Guy 2: "Hell yah it does if it gets in your eyes."

Drunk Guy 1: "No way, my cousin was totally sprayed in the face once and it was no big deal."

Drunk Guy 2: "I bet you wouldn't let me spray you for $50"


And what's the harm, there? Most cops get pepper sprayed as part of training. It's not particularly dangerous. Nor is it all that effective against a determined perp, except as part of a broader series of actions.

I tell my wife to use the pepper spray as a distractant, and then get her knife in. Like most people, she doesn't like to hear that, much.
4.10.2009 1:54pm
johnny_coli:
@Sigivald

What does the urbanity of the area have to do with the victimization of college students known-to-be-disarmed vs. possibly-armed?

All the studies I know of suggest that criminals (of the habitual variety, at least) are well aware of the possibility of armed resistance (or the lack thereof) and take it into account; the idea that it just makes no difference in the case of students because the campus is "urban" is baseless, to the best of my knowledge. Can you explain its basis?


Should have been better phrased, but the idea was that one could look at an urban campus' crime stats and compare them to the surrounding area, as the population density is roughly the same. Using the 2005 data, as it is the most complete for Boston City crime stats, Boston has a population of 608,000, and Boston University has 32,000 college students. (I have no affiliation with BU at all, other than I lived in Allston and shook my fist at it every day from the B-line trolley).

Crime for 2005, calculated as incidence per 1000 individuals: Boston—homicide 0.12, rape/sex assault 0.5, robbery 4.2, aggravated assault 7.3. For B.U.—zero homicides, rape/sex assault 0.16, robbery 0.03, aggravated assault 0.06.

So, an urban situated campus with 30,000 students on it (and BU is quite an urban campus, ie not a very defined footprint like many campuses), has a crime rate for its students far below that of Boston city itself. Now, a huge caveat is that BU is not spread out into all areas of the city, and if I had more time I would total up all the crime for every city-located University in Boston, but from a BU-centric point of view, allowing their students to carry currently-banned "self defense devices" would have a negligible impact on their student population crime rates. They are already far below that of the surrounding areas.
4.10.2009 1:54pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
DennisN:


Size matters, as does strength. The typical female victim is smaller, weaker, and probably less mean than her opponent. He likes to fight and is not deterred by a few bruises. If you're not willing to taste the blood, avoid fighting.


I don't think most assaults are carried out by pirates or navy seals. Probably more often by young men unsure of themselves and of mixed emotions about the assault. I mean presumably the same principle that causes so many law breakers to run when calm would better serve them applies here as well.

Also in the case of attempted rape sufficient genital trauma might dissuade the attacker from their plan.


Hand to hand combat with a violent perp is almost suicidally dangerous. Victims would be better served learning techniques of passive acceptance, and practicing the 100 yard dash.


Well that really depends on how you rate the relative badness of rape and death doesn't it? In the limiting case where you think rape is as bad or worse than death than no matter how small your odds self-defense is the right choice.



A F(r)iend, who is a martial arts (not self defense) instructor once said, "If you come home from training and you've not been beat to snot, you've wasted your evening." That's the level you have to train at if you plan to fight. A "self defense" class that does not emphasize the ruthlessness of hand to hand combat is nothing more than a false security blanket.

The only self defense class that makes sense for most people, occurs on the pistol range.


Ultimately the primary value of a self-defense class is the sense of confidence it engenders. If you look scared and nervous you are more likely to be preyed upon. It's just human nature. After all the attacker doesn't know if the confident unafraid woman is packing or a ruthless killer but they do know that the hesitant nervous woman isn't.
4.10.2009 2:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

In accordance with North Carolina General Statute 14-269.2, no firearms, incendiary devices, explosives, fireworks, highly flammable materials or substances, or any articles that may be used as offensive weapons may be in the CCA or on the campus. This includes knives, slingshots, clubs, pellet guns, rifles, BB guns, mace, and all firearms and items of like kind.


Overbroad and void for vagueness?

Is a pool cue-stick banned? Does it depend whether it comes apart (the heavy side makes a really nice club)?

Also a broad reading of this would ban bars of soap and socks since one can make blackjacks out of them easily enough. What about rocks? Did they remove all rocks?

What about coins and car keys?

Or do they require everyone to go around campus handcuffed and naked?
4.10.2009 2:04pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
@DennisN:

I didn't say it was a huge harm with pepper spray but I think you'd agree other things being equal less people who get sprayed with pepper spray the better.

Hell, I suppose there is even a chance of provoking a medical condition like asthma.
4.10.2009 2:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I also note that since all knives are banned, one evidently can't cook on campus! Presumably there is no exception for restaurants and cafeterias, right?
4.10.2009 2:06pm
TruePath (mail) (www):

Or do they require everyone to go around campus handcuffed and naked?


Well that's an interesting suggestion ;-)
4.10.2009 2:07pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
In fact can anyone tell me of any item or article of clothing which has NO uses as an offensive weapon and therefore is not banned under the Duke policy?
4.10.2009 2:08pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Truepath:

Ultimately the primary value of a self-defense class is the sense of confidence it engenders. If you look scared and nervous you are more likely to be preyed upon. It's just human nature. After all the attacker doesn't know if the confident unafraid woman is packing or a ruthless killer but they do know that the hesitant nervous woman isn't.


Also I would note that something like a mugging or a threat to use a weapon will often occur within arms reach. Unarmed combat techniques won't protect you from someone who is out to SHOOT you. It will protect you against someone who is out to mug/rape/whatever. Different threat profiles.
4.10.2009 2:11pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
For that matter, I am not sure if firearms training will necessarily protect you against someone who is determined to shoot you. Presumably they can plan ahead, ambush you, etc. and you won't have time to respond.

The key with everything is to know what you are trying to protect yourself against and train accordingly.
4.10.2009 2:14pm
ShelbyC:

highly flammable materials or substances


So you can't drive on campus...
4.10.2009 2:16pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ShelbyC:

So you can't drive on campus...

You don't even have to reference gasoline to get there. The car or other vehicle could be used as an offensive weapon and therefore is banned on that basis as well!
4.10.2009 2:17pm
SeaDrive:

The law says a college can prohibit the possession of certain self-defensive means.


The point of the thread is whether it is constitutional for the law to permit a college to prohibit possession of certain self-defensive means.
4.10.2009 2:18pm
johnny_coli:
@Sigivald et al

Just to further expand on this, as I thought it was an interesting excercise:


...the idea was that one could look at an urban campus' crime stats and compare them to the surrounding area, as the population density is roughly the same. Using the 2005 data, as it is the most complete for Boston City crime stats, Boston has a population of 608,000, and Boston University has 32,000 college students. (I have no affiliation with BU at all, other than I lived in Allston and shook my fist at it every day from the B-line trolley).

Crime for 2005, calculated as incidence per 1000 individuals: Boston—homicide 0.12, rape/sex assault 0.5, robbery 4.2, aggravated assault 7.3. For B.U.—zero homicides, rape/sex assault 0.16, robbery 0.03, aggravated assault 0.06.


Slightly expanding that line of thought, and extending it to include Boston College (popn 14,600) and Northeastern Universtity (popn 24,400) to get a larger data set over an expanded footprint of the city, if we total BU, BC, and NU and look at campus crime stats for 2005(incidence per 1000 students combining the stats from all three schools):
Homicide 0, rape/sex assault 0.3, robbery 0.08, aggravated assault 0.18.

Still below city totals. Of course, one should determine whether the University campus crime totals are included in the Boston city crime totals and subtract those from the city data, however I don't believe the stats for homicide, robbery or aggravated assault would go down much for the city data based on the very low numbers of campus incidences per 1000 students.
4.10.2009 2:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
SeaDrive:

The point of the thread is whether it is constitutional for the law to permit a college to prohibit possession of certain self-defensive means.


There certainly might be a basis for restricting some self-defensive means. For example, if I want to claim a hand grenade is a means of self-defence, that might be true in sme cases, but might not prevent the school from banning it.

However it seems that the goal of total disarming the campus is an issue which is fully separate. There is no bright line here anyway as almost anything can be a means of self-defence. I favor allowing concealed carry on campus (with appropriate permits) but these laws usually go so far beyond this as to be problematic for any number of other reasons. I am not even sure one needs to go to the second amendment to argue they are unconstitutional.....
4.10.2009 2:22pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Forty years ago, in a field project far from home and in an uncongenial neighborhood, I was asked to teach the women staff some self-defense techniques. We got out the mattresses and threw each other around for an hour and a half after dinner for a week.
I used no formal discipline, instead opting for scientific and anatomically correct dirty fighting.
At the reunion, about forty years later, three of the women who had been in that class attended. I talked to two. Before either of them said, "Hi." "Nice to see you." "Gee, you've put on weight.", they referred to the self-defense class.
Neither had been pestered during that time, which they ascribed to their self-confidence which, in turn, made them less attractive targets.
Can't hurt.
4.10.2009 2:24pm
DennisN (mail):

@DennisN:

I didn't say it was a huge harm with pepper spray but I think you'd agree other things being equal less people who get sprayed with pepper spray the better.

Hell, I suppose there is even a chance of provoking a medical condition like asthma.


Oh, I suppose, but there are so many other things to ban, where do you start and where do you end? I just don't consider hot sauce to be all that evil, except that it says "Self Defense" on the label.
4.10.2009 2:38pm
DennisN (mail):

For that matter, I am not sure if firearms training will necessarily protect you against someone who is determined to shoot you. Presumably they can plan ahead, ambush you, etc. and you won't have time to respond.


Nothing will protect you 100%. The best self defense is preparedness in general. We're arguing here, about which particulars are optimal, and that is a pretty personal decisision.
4.10.2009 2:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Interestingly the Duke policy mentions the North Carolina Statute which contains the following line:

(d) It shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any BB gun, stun gun, air rifle, air pistol, bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slungshot, leaded cane, switchblade knife, blackjack, metallic knuckles, razors and razor blades (except solely for personal shaving), firework, or any sharp‑pointed or edged instrument except instructional supplies, unaltered nail files and clips and tools used solely for preparation of food, instruction, and maintenance, on educational property.


So in other words, as soon as you use the paring knife to cut the plastic packaging for your calculator, the paring knife is now a weapon and you are guilty of a misdemeanor?

Also I suppose whittling on campus with a pocket knife is a misdemeanor because any knife you use is clearly not used exclusively for whitelisted activities (and whittling isn't a whitelisted activity). Furthermore as soon as you end up with a sharp point on the stick that also constitutes another misdemeanor!

Any idea on case law regarding this statute as far as these sorts of things?
4.10.2009 2:41pm
KM2 (mail):
University policy is really a secondary issue for Bridgewater State, U Mass Dartmouth and every other institution in the state. Massachusetts state law lumps pepper spray into the same category as ammunition, thus imposing the requirement of a license in order to possess it anywhere and under any circumstances. Massachusetts residents can apply for an FID card that allows them to possess pepper spray at age 18 with their parents' written permission. Out-of-state students, however have no such options and can only apply for a temporary LTC at age 21, at a cost of $100 per year and with a typical licensing delay of 2-4 months.
4.10.2009 2:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DennisN:

Nothing will protect you 100%. The best self defense is preparedness in general. We're arguing here, about which particulars are optimal, and that is a pretty personal decisision.


Which particulars are optimal? How about a self-defence program that includes:
1) Unarmed combat (not sports karate)
2) Knife fighting
3) Club fighting
4) Firearms training

I would certainly agree that each of these adds something to the curriculum and that such a curriculum would be far better than just one of them. Any disagreement from you?
4.10.2009 2:45pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
(firearms training would include both firing the gun and use of the gun as a hand-to-hand weapon)
4.10.2009 2:45pm
Gregger (mail):
On the issue of schools being allowed to make their own rules on their own property. I agree as long as the public is not allowed access to the property.


But as long as those who might do me harm are allowed to use the property I will support allowing others to protect themselves.
4.10.2009 2:47pm
alkali (mail):
SeaDrive writes, in respect of my reference to Dartmouth, Massachusetts:

And then, of course, there is Hanover, New Hampshire.

Which is where Dartmouth College is located. That is 187 miles from U-Mass Dartmouth, the university mentioned in EV's post.

(For what it is worth, Hanover also has vanishingly low rates of violent crime.)
4.10.2009 2:49pm
Larrya (mail) (www):
I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.
First, any or all of them could be illegally carrying a gun. Second, given “first” I’d like for at least a couple of the students to be legally carrying, so I wasn’t the only one. BTW, if you’re afraid enough of your students to keep them from carrying a gun, should you really be teaching them bacteriology? Can’t that knowledge be misused for germ warfare?

By the way, your students are in good company. The same folks telling us college seniors, graduate students, and professors are too incompetent to have firearms also told us airline pilots would flip out and shoot unruly passengers, and off-duty and retired cops carrying would cost cities billions in liability. They predicted concealed carry would result in fender benders turning into firefights and the expiration of the “assault weapons” ban would leave bodies stacked like cordwood. Right now they’re saying that concealed handgun licensees carrying in national parks will poach animals and terrorize tourists. After twenty years, and dozens of gloom-and-doom predictions, the anti-gun folks have been wrong every single time.
I still think self-defense classes for women are a good idea, even if by themselves they are not sufficient to fully protect women.
I agree. But said self-defense classes could be effective if they involved a handgun.

My daughter took such a class at Texas A&M. Halfway through she asked the instructor why they always practiced in gym clothes. Said instructor had never considered the possibility that maybe the class would be more effective if the techniques were practiced in what students were likely to be wearing when attacked.
Crime for 2005, calculated as incidence per 1000 individuals: Boston—homicide 0.12, rape/sex assault 0.5, robbery 4.2, aggravated assault 7.3. For B.U.—zero homicides, rape/sex assault 0.16, robbery 0.03, aggravated assault 0.06.
However, that includes the most dangerous Boston neighborhoods. I’d wonder what the comparison was between BU and neighborhoods of comparable socioeconomic status. Also it includes gang activity, which hopefully wouldn’t be part of the BU experience.
4.10.2009 2:50pm
glangston (mail):
(link) alkali (mail):
For businesses, not allowing people to take reasonable and lawful measures for self-protection is a basis for possible tort liability.

Really?


Sure, in that same perfect world where the police are always there to protect you and banning weapons is somehow conflated with banning criminal behavior.

You would think women on campus would be incensed at their lack of ability to defend themselves against rape. You would also think the school would be sympathetic. Alas, the schools seem to say, be a victim today and go to court tomorrow, this is a civilized society. Too much irony for me.
4.10.2009 2:56pm
DennisN (mail):
@einhverfr


I would certainly agree that each of these adds something to the curriculum and that such a curriculum would be far better than just one of them. Any disagreement from you?


I agree. You're talking about some serious training, there, requiring some serious commitment.

From my f(r)iend's class:
Student: "When can we start doing unarmed combat against a knife?

F(r)iend: "When you're good enough to stop accidentally kicking me in the nuts."
4.10.2009 2:57pm
SeaLawyer:

And what's the harm, there? Most cops get pepper sprayed as part of training. It's not particularly dangerous. Nor is it all that effective against a determined perp, except as part of a broader series of actions.


Cops get sprayed with a very tiny amount of pepper spray. If you really unload on someone with pepper spray it is very effective. If you don't believe me, go have someone empty out a can of it on your face.
4.10.2009 3:03pm
ohwilleke:
College students in residential colleges are victimized at lower rates than other college aged people, who presumably are not subject to similar prohibitions.

There is also no evidence to suggest that weapon free college campuses are safer than those where weapons are permitted.

Mass shootings like VA Tech as so rare, even though they are stunning when they happen, that impacts from weapons ownership policies on mass shootings are irrelevant to the overall costs and benefits of allowing weapons possession on campuses.

Why try to fix what there is little evidence to indicate is broken?
4.10.2009 3:08pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Jonny_coli:
When I was at college, the regulation was that if you had a weapon, you had to register it with campus police. This meant taking the weapon from your dorm, walking it all the way across campus to the campus police building. I thought that was a reasonable requirement. In an emergency, it is nice to know whether there is likely to be ammunition in a dorm room (not only a violent crime situation but also things like fires etc).

However, let me ask you some questions:

If I have a pocket knife with a locking blade (and have been able to shake it open) does that make you feel more or less safe than if I had a gun? What about a rope garrotte? Where do you think the line should be drawn? Should we ban all knives, string, ropes, and similar things on campus for fear of crime?
4.10.2009 3:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Larrya:

I agree. But said self-defense classes could be effective if they involved a handgun.


Ummm.... Let's start by actually doing threat breakdowns, shall we?

Muggings

Rapes

Armed robbery

Determined assailant

Which of these benefits substantially from a gun? In which of these is a knife defence better? Can you count on getting a gun out in time in each of these?

Really, for most violent crime, you are going to be assaulted at close range. There are a number of practical reasons for this (making sure it isn't obvious what happened to potential witnesses, etc). In these cases, unarmed defence is probably best. There are other cases where a knife or a gun is most helpful.

I personally think that real self defence should start out with unarmed combat, then move to clubs. Then move to knives. Then move to guns as hand-to-hand weapons (i.e. hitting someone with the gun), and finally moving to firearms practice. However start with what you have available always (hands and feet) and move from there.
4.10.2009 3:30pm
SeaDrive:

College students in residential colleges are victimized at lower rates than other college aged people, who presumably are not subject to similar prohibitions.


Still, some students may know (or feel) that they are at high risk...
4.10.2009 3:56pm
DennisN (mail):
There's a study, and I can't recall who did it, that looked at the effectiveness of various self defense styles, ranging from complete compliance through a spectrum of force to firearms. The study measured the liklihood of the victim being physically injured during the affray.

Firearms came out as the safest and most effective means of self defense by a vast margin; something like a factor of three. And this was despite the fact that about half the firearms defenses only occurred after the victim had been injured.

Complete compliance was next in terms of victim safety. The various methods of "self defense" were nearly suicidally ineffective.

Hand to hand training and a killer attitude would help the victim in any defense situation, but it's a hard thing to measure, and uncommon in our society.

I still carry a knife where it is illegal to carry a gun, and a hatchet under the seat of my truck. Inside twenty feet, I can get that knife in, even if you shoot me to death in the process.
4.10.2009 4:01pm
matt (mail):
einhverfr: You wrote:


Really, for most violent crime, you are going to be assaulted at close range. ... In these cases, unarmed defence is probably best. ...


I think DOJ statistics contradict your assertions.


These are from Gun Facts version 5.0, for which you can google :

Fact: When a woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of rape attacks are completed,
compared to 32% when unarmed. 120
Fact: The probability of serious injury from an attack is 2.5 times greater for women offering no
resistance than for women resisting with a gun. Men also benefit from using a gun, but the
benefits are smaller at 1.4 times more likely to receive a serious injury.121

Footnotes:

120
U.S. Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Rape Victimization in 26 American
Cities, 1979

121
Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey
4.10.2009 4:03pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
matt:

That doesn't really disagree with me. A knife is a arms-reach weapon. And it is mostly compared to offering no resistance at all.

This doesn't really address unarmed combat techniques since I would be willing to bet they are practised by only a small number of sexual assault victims.
4.10.2009 4:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DennisN:

There's a study, and I can't recall who did it, that looked at the effectiveness of various self defense styles, ranging from complete compliance through a spectrum of force to firearms. The study measured the liklihood of the victim being physically injured during the affray.


I think one of the difficulties here is determining threat profile. What is extremely successful in one threat profile (mugging at close range) might be suicide in another (armed robbery in a retail environment). Without knowing specifics it is extremely difficult (read impossible) to gauge any relevance of a given study to any specific threat.

Seriously, one could train in everything from unarmed combat through advanced physical security (looking at how to define and secure a defensible perimeter).

One other problem here is also unanswered in most of these studies: there is a tendency among lay people to confuse "martial arts" with "unarmed combat." In reality MOST martial arts schools teach "martial sports." Winning a karate championship is no measure of ability to defend oneself unarmed (this doesn't mean there is no such thing as combat-worthy Okinawan Karate, but just that people don't teach it commonly).
4.10.2009 4:17pm
matt (mail):
One more, same source:

Fact: You are far more likely to survive a violent assault if you defend yourself with a gun. In
episodes where a robbery victim was injured, the injury/defense rates were: 119
Resisting with a gun 6%
Did nothing at all 25%
Resisted with a knife 40%
Non-violent resistance 45%

119 - British Home Office


---

I seem to remember seeing a similar statistic from American sources (FBI maybe?), but I can't find it at the moment.

-m@
4.10.2009 4:21pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
matt:

Robbery is a wide range of things. It could include mugging (where unarmed combat, which is not nonviolent resistance, could be extremely effective) to a case where someone pulls a gun in a retail establishment from a safe distance. From a threat profile, these are not comparable. Without more breakdown (since robbery involves force, the distance involved in that force, etc.) it is impossible to apply the study to any given robbery except by using common sense!
4.10.2009 4:26pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
For example:

Someone points a gun at you from 10 feet away and tells you to give him/her your wallet, knife or unarmed combat will be STUPID. Ditto with someone pulling a gun on you from just outside arms reach but where there are movement obstacles imparing your motion (for example, a retail counter).

On the other hand, someone pulls you aside on the street and pulls a gun on you, that is a very different thing.

In ANY self-defence, you MUST determine exactly what you are trying to defend against. Now, a handgun can be pretty useful from a hand-to-hand perspective too. However, you can't take a crime where the threat profile is highly variable, like robbery, and expect this to be particularly useful as a general principle.
4.10.2009 4:30pm
pintler:
For the people positing adverse effects from people carrying pepper spray, I would point out RCW 9.91.160:

2) No town, city, county, special purpose district, quasi-municipal corporation or other unit of government may prohibit a person eighteen years old or older, or a person fourteen years old or older who has the permission of a parent or guardian to do so, from purchasing or possessing a personal protection spray device or from using such a device in a manner consistent with the authorized use of force under RCW 9A.16.020.

I have yet to hear of single problem stemming from this, and I have been here 20 years.

It's not the most effective thing around (according to LEO friends, sometimes it works like a charm, and sometimes if makes the guy mad), but it doesn't require a whole lot of expertise, and there is almost no downside. Police use it routinely, consider it lower on the continuum of force than fists, and don't seem to be offing asthmatics and emphysema patients with it very often. They put it lower on the continuum precisely because they think you're more likely to be seriously hurt if they punch you.
4.10.2009 4:39pm
Tammy Cravit (mail):
For what it's worth, I attended and later helped teach a number of self-defense classes for my local rape crisis center, and at least the ones I've been do stress situational awareness and confidence much more than they do hand-to-hand combat techniques, precisely because the attacker so often has a strength and mass advantage over his victim.

The woman I taught with would start every class with a talk along the lines of "Yes, you'll learn some defensive techniques here, but if you get to the point where you need to use them, you've already lost the first battle." We really emphasized staying out of the fight in the first place, rather than how to win it. And the physical techniques we taught were targeted less toward overwhelming the attacker with force and more with buying a few seconds of breathing room to make possible an escape from the situation.
4.10.2009 4:44pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Tammy Cravit:

Also for those saying firing range practice is the only thing that is important, those few seconds (if one also had a knife or a gun) might be enough to bring that into play too.
4.10.2009 4:48pm
Tammy Cravit (mail):
Oh, and to follow up on einhverfr's comment, one of the things we taught in our self-defense classes at the rape crisis center where I volunteered was a 30,000 foot overview of Groth's typology of rapists. A gut-level assessment of the behavior of one's attacker may help survival, since (for example) a power-reassurance rapist may be scared off by strong resistance, whereas physical resistance to an anger-excitation rapist (ie, a sadist) would likely just escalate the level of force used to the point that someone ended up dead.

But then, when we counsel rape victims, we always drive home a simpler message: "If you survived the attack, you made the right choices."
4.10.2009 4:48pm
Tammy Cravit (mail):
@einhverfr: Time to bring a weapon into play is good, too. I'm somewhat neutral on the issue of weapons, in that I choose not to own or carry a gun for personal reasons, but I believe strongly that law-abiding folks should be able to make those choices for themselves.

And, to some extent, the choice of whether to draw a gun (or knife, or TASER, or whatever) and engage the threat, or whether to make a strategic retreat, is a very individual one, which will depend on an individual assessment of the situation. Which comes back to my last comment: "If you survived the attack, you made the right choice."
4.10.2009 4:53pm
DennisN (mail):
@einhverfr


I think one of the difficulties here is determining threat profile. What is extremely successful in one threat profile (mugging at close range) might be suicide in another (armed robbery in a retail environment).


Absolutely. The fight is often lost or won in the mind and in the situational posture long before the first blow is struck. Selecting the right tactics is a matter of mental preparedness, the most important aspect of which is losing the "It can't happen to me" attitude.

Forewarned is forearmed, and all that.
4.10.2009 5:03pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Tammy Cravit:

I am somewhat neutral on the subject of weapons too. My Kempo teacher always used to say, "Put your opponent on the ground as fast as possible. Then you can retreat if you want." We trained with clubs, knives and fists. We never sparred. Most of the training was kata forms only. The training was always done with the assumption that the attacker would be substantially larger, heavier and stronger, so the compensating training was speed and accuracy.

However, knowing HOW to pick up and use almost anything as an effective weapon is an amazingly useful thing. It also provides better assessment of an armed threat, and an ability to gauge not only the size and strength but also the training of an attacker (or even co-workers but that is another story).

The problem with most self-defence courses though is that real self-defence and unarmed combat is hard and takes substantial training. I don't think you can teach people it in a weekend workshop. Really it takes years of practice to master. This is why threat assessment and profiling is so important at the beginning.

One thing you seem to be doing right in your workshops is the idea that threat assessment and situational has to come first. If you can teach one thing in a workshop, that is the one thing you can try to teach well. If you don't teach it, though, one thing you should look at is how to spot training in a potential adversary. This isn't such of an important issue since USUALLY, training corresponds also with impulse control and this would make one LESS likely to be criminals. However, it is still an extremely useful skill to have. (Types of fists, balance and stance, and these things tend to be the best indicators of training. Also which hand is holding a weapon, whether it is back or forward, etc.)
4.10.2009 5:06pm
Kirk:
johnny_coli, do you have any idea how reprehensible it sounds to have the state sell its subjects citizens, "You live in an area with lower-than-average crime statistics, so you'd not allowed to defend yourself"?
4.10.2009 5:09pm
Kirk:
Ack! That's "tell", not "sell".
4.10.2009 5:10pm
Kirk:
einhverfr,
Can you count on getting a gun out in time in each of these?
If the time it takes you to deploy your handgun is significantly longer than it takes to deploy your knife, you need to rethink how you carry. Now, the comparative effectiveness of handgun vs knife at already-in-contact range is a completely separate question.

pintler, thanks for bringing up the Washington State reference. I'm with you here, except for the futility of it: in all the dozens of times I've brought up WA's lack of a training requirement for concealed-carry licensees, and the fact that our accident and crime rate by permit-holders is as good as everyone else's, not once has anyone ever responded--not even to argue against my assertion. Let's see if you have any better luck here.
4.10.2009 5:31pm
/:
If no one is armed, then armed attack can not happen.

I would rather have no choice but to run away from an armed attacker than risk being in the same room as someone who can defend themselves.

People who fight attackers should be prosecuted for armed assault.

Guns are scary. People who carry guns are scary.
4.10.2009 5:41pm
DennisN (mail):
Victims and especially professional victims are scary. Someone who is unwilling to defend himself or others do not deserve protection.
4.10.2009 5:43pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

But as applied to pepper spray? Can you identify any actual social harm from carrying pepper spray?
It reinforces the misconception that rapists are bad guys that deserve to be hurt. I'm only very slightly exaggerating the "criminals are the real victims of capitalism" sentiment that I used to hear frequently from professors and other students (usually the traditional age crowd, with limited real world experience).
4.10.2009 5:44pm
Cump (mail) (www):
Cornell's policy is hardly a surprise. Self-defence is basically illegal here in the Empire State.
4.10.2009 5:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

By the way, many of the colleges you named (though not UMass) are private. Unless Congress blackmails them with federal funding (like they did with military recruiting access), why don't they have the right to set their own policies on their own property?
This would be a strong argument if there wasn't a long history of the government blackmailing colleges with:

1. Loss of tax exempt status for racially segregationist policies. (Bob Jones University. Can't say I'm crying too hard about that, except in a very philosopic way.)

2. Requirements to implement federal policies concerning sex and sports--even for schools that received no direct federal funding. (Was it Grove City College that got caught on this because some federal funds were given directly to GCC students?)

I am a little sympathetic to the concern about drunken college students with guns. But drunken college students with cars, knives, chairs, balconies, etc. are a pretty serious problem, too. Having abandoned in loco parentis in the 1960s for loco students, guess what? They have a problem. Look at this list of problems that are associated with college students, what do you find is common to all?

alcohol and guns
alcohol and balconies
alcohol and penises
alcohol and cars

I am beginning to think that focusing on guns isn't the right concern.
4.10.2009 5:52pm
Gaius Obvious:
I'm amazed that no one here knows that an equal assortment of weapons are banned on military installations in the barracks for single soldiers at both their training locations and their permanent party bases; no guns, no knives with blades longer than 3 inches, no pepper spray, and so forth. The same arguments about leaving them defenseless while off post as college students can be made while striking out he arguments about private university rules -- this is the US government making the rules on US government property. Even military installations that have on-post family housing also ban weapons from those households as well.
4.10.2009 6:00pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I don't think most assaults are carried out by pirates or navy seals. Probably more often by young men unsure of themselves and of mixed emotions about the assault. I mean presumably the same principle that causes so many law breakers to run when calm would better serve them applies here as well.
If you mean fellow college students, you might well be right. But you know, bad guys--really bad guys--the kind with multiple felony convictions before they dropped out of high school or even junior high--have been known to go onto college campuses to look for victims. Are these the norm? No, but I see no reason to make every college student a sitting duck.

Realistically, most states require you to be 21 to have a carry permit. This means that a few seniors, a lot of grad students, faculty, and staff, are the only ones likely to be eligible. With the dominant victimhood mentality on most campuses, I expect that relatively few people will be carrying. And guess what? Those who pass the background check requirement don't worry me. It's the ones that Cho Seung-Hui that worry me--because if you plan mass murder and then suicide, a gun control violation is rather irrelevant.
4.10.2009 6:11pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Even military installations that have on-post family housing also ban weapons from those households as well.
Is this new? A friend was assigned to Fallon NAS in Nevada, and the only requirement was that firearms had to be registered with the base commander.

It is certainly a bad idea.
4.10.2009 6:14pm
whit:

Having taught while doing graduate work at one of them (bacteriologist, not a lawyer), I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.


right... because a policy forbidding such conduct means nobody is carrying.

lol

fwiw, i went to a grad school in WA state that prohibited carry. i chose to violate that rule (not illegal, just a violation of school policy).
4.10.2009 6:29pm
Tammy Cravit (mail):
@Clayton: I think the policy about weapons might vary with branch of service. I had a friend in the Air Force, and I seem to recall she said that personally-owned weapons had to be stored in the base armory or somesuch. And I remember that when she deployed to Iraq, there was a whole song-and-dance whereby her duty-issue M-16 had to be checked out of the base armory and transported to the airport by her commanding officer in a government-owned vehicle with paperwork and a whole rigamarole that took about 2 hours.
4.10.2009 6:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.
If concealed carry were legal on campus, the odds are small but not insignificant that one of your students might be carrying a gun. As it is now, the only student who is likely to be armed in your classroom is next year's Cho Seung-Hui. If he decides that you aren't giving proper credit the phlogiston theory's applicability to the Krebs cycle, there won't be anyone in the classroom that can defend you. Does that make you feel a bit safer?
4.10.2009 6:33pm
DaProf:
As a university professor, I can comment on our campus.

There has been a rise of violent crime (robbery at gunpoint, gang-related violence) over the past two years. No surprise, given the economy and the fact that a "crack alley" is just two blocks from campus.

And our "security force" is unarmed. It is good for writing parking tickets and can "observe and report."

That is, they can call 9-1-1, but can't even get involved if someone is getting beaten at the student center, as happened just a month ago. Security just "watched" someone get a slice across their face requiring 20+ stitches.

So, the students are disarmed. The faculty are disarmed. The staff &administration are disarmed. And the security force is disarmed.

Seems like an opportune place to commit crime?

Once you reach the age when you can carry a weapon, you should be allowed to carry it.

Once again, "unintended consequences" for "feel good" rules.
4.10.2009 6:35pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Kirk:

If the time it takes you to deploy your handgun is significantly longer than it takes to deploy your knife, you need to rethink how you carry. Now, the comparative effectiveness of handgun vs knife at already-in-contact range is a completely separate question.


My view is that, in close quarters, you are almost always best opening with unarmed techniques. However, getting a gun or a knife into play pose different problems at different ranges, at least if you are planning to threaten to shoot. Using it as a bludgeon is again somewhat different.

However, I was always taught that a quarter of a second in close combat is significant, and that an eight of a second os often significant. If you can draw a gun, aim it, and determine if you are going to fire it in a quarter of a second.... Also a knife (or a gun, in some cases) doesn't have to be brought completely into play. Bringing it partially into play can open up possibilities.

Once again, if I were assaulted in close quarters and carrying a gun, I would *first* respond with fists, and follow it up with the gun. Knives are fundamentally different and pose entirely different concerns, tactics, strategy, etc.
4.10.2009 6:36pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

And I remember that when she deployed to Iraq, there was a whole song-and-dance whereby her duty-issue M-16 had to be checked out of the base armory and transported to the airport by her commanding officer in a government-owned vehicle with paperwork and a whole rigamarole that took about 2 hours.
With respect to government issued weapons (especially automatic weapons), I can understand a certain of care about transport and verification of where they are. But if you really think that your soldiers or airmen can be trusted with belt fed machine guns on the battlefield--but can't be trusted with a gun in their home--there's some serious explaining that needs to be done.
4.10.2009 6:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW, I would open with fists prior to even going into a guard. Usually the guard is where I get to AFTER my first round of punches. The same way, I could punch a few times and have a weapon drawn at the end of the routine.

Unarmed combat is complimentary to carrying other weapons.
4.10.2009 6:41pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

That is, they can call 9-1-1, but can't even get involved if someone is getting beaten at the student center, as happened just a month ago. Security just "watched" someone get a slice across their face requiring 20+ stitches.
I find that even more disturbing than the rules against being armed. This is the point where a "Security" guard who hadn't been castrated when he wandered into the Women's Studies Department should have picked up a chair and broken it across the knife-wielder's head.
4.10.2009 6:47pm
Kirk:
Unarmed combat is complimentary to carrying other weapons.
Huh? I thought the prevailing wisdom was, if something isn't 100% effective, then it's completely worthless. </sarcasm>
4.10.2009 6:55pm
CDR D (mail):
Even military installations that have on-post family housing also ban weapons from those households as well.

Is this new? A friend was assigned to Fallon NAS in Nevada, and the only requirement was that firearms had to be registered with the base commander.

It is certainly a bad idea.



It must be "new".

Although the regulation of firearms in base family housing can be subject to the discretion of the base commander, in my experience they usually just had to be declared and documented with base security.

In the past, the BX/PXs sold firearms and ammunition right on base.

It's my experience with people living at places like NAS Alameda, NavSta Treasure Island, and USCG Support Center/CGAS Kodiak, residents were allowed personal firearms in their homes but they had to be declared.

OTOH, USCG Training Center Alameda required personal weapons to be stored in the base armory. They could be checked in/out as desired. But then, that base had no family housing.
4.10.2009 7:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Kirk:

I think one thing that is important is that the discipline which comes from studying multi-layered self-defence as well as the abilities and perceptive changes are going to make one a heck of a lot more able to address a threat than someone who thinks that self defence training starts and ends on the firing range.

Heck there are a lot more things one can do with a gun than just shoot someone with it, and some of these could be quite useful at times.
4.10.2009 7:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
BTW, I train with knives, clubs, and swords (real fighting, not the SCA medieval theater stuff). I might train with guns but the chance of me ever needing to use one where I live is close to zero.
4.10.2009 7:34pm
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
Eugene Volokh: Yes, the inclusion of "mace . . . and items of like kind" in a regulation purporting to state what is "in accordance with" a statute that does not list defensive sprays is most curious. How should this contradiction be resolved?

P.S. Sorry for the previous typo of "statue" for "statute."
4.10.2009 8:04pm
sputnik (mail):
i agree with Evgeniy
Why don't turn our colleges into the Wild wild West and whoever is the best shooter wins.

Or could it be that 2 amendment worshipping and contemporary misrepresentation of intentions of almost 300 years past is getting a little bit too ridiculous?
4.10.2009 8:33pm
DennisN (mail):
@einhverfr

My view is that, in close quarters, you are almost always best opening with unarmed techniques. However, getting a gun or a knife into play pose different problems at different ranges, at least if you are planning to threaten to shoot.


Right. At eyeball to eyeball range, you need to do something to give you time and distance to deploy your firearm. Generally, with a firearm, distance is your friend. The better you are with a firearm, the more distance is your friend. If nothing else, it's hard to attack you with fists or knives when you're across the street. ;-)

Seriously, a good part of the reality of using firearms in self defense, is not having them go boom. You need to be willing and determined to fire, but it gives you the opportunity to not fire. That decision can be made in a remarkably short time. I have had the opportunity to resort to firearms on several occasions. I was never required to discharge, and only one instance was reported to the police. This is another instance where distance is your friend.

Going back to eyeball to eyeball range, the would-be shootist needs to develop some techniques whereby the sometimes demanding and vulnerable action of presenting and aiming the firearm are "automated." You don't have a helluva lot of time to waste, as you pointed out, and firearms retention is a serious issue within grabbing distance.

There are some simple biomechanical tricks that can be used to "aim without aiming", but I've never seen them taught in a regular firearms training class.
4.10.2009 8:34pm
DennisN (mail):
@sputnik

Why don't turn our colleges into the Wild wild West and whoever is the best shooter wins.


You've been watching too many Spaghetti Westerns. That doesn't reflect history at all.
4.10.2009 8:35pm
CDR D (mail):
Why don't turn our colleges into the Wild wild West and whoever is the best shooter wins.


So, there were no colleges back in the days of the so-called "Wild wild West"?

Whoda thunk?
4.10.2009 8:50pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DennisN:

Going back to eyeball to eyeball range, the would-be shootist needs to develop some techniques whereby the sometimes demanding and vulnerable action of presenting and aiming the firearm are "automated." You don't have a helluva lot of time to waste, as you pointed out, and firearms retention is a serious issue within grabbing distance.


Honestly, here is where unarmed combat techniques come in really for a couple of reasons:

1) If you aim with one hand, you have another hand to protect your firearm. At short distance aiming isn't so hard against an untrained enemy. Against a trained enemy, having another hand available for striking is helpful.

2) Coordination between hands, and understanding what close-range uses a handgun has can be extremely helpful. Who expects to be smacked on the head by someone using a handgun as a blunt object? A handgun in motion isn't always out of play.

Between the above elements, the ability to retain and keep a firearm in play as a threat both as a blunt object and as a potentially lethal weapon is much improved. Also:

3) There are a number of ways of grabbing distance.

Granted the way people described the martial art I studied was that it was like training to have a fist fight in a phone booth, so my views of space are a bit different than most. One reason I trained myself to use swords was to provide views of dealing with larger intervals of space than I was used to dealing with.
4.10.2009 9:50pm
Nick056:
Professor Volokh,

Colleges will be held liable if they allow pepper sprays in dorms and those weaponso harm others needlessly. It's not about a disposition against defensive freedoms, it's about an aversion to liability.

And I can't really blame them. 18-year-olds, all armed with pepper spray, will show a higher incidence of improper than proper use. And allowing their possession creates a very ugly fear among admin. It's not just the question of single liability, but reputation.

I see the other side of the coin, but ust as important as the right of self-defense, is the right to enact policies and procedures on one's own property, among one's own residents, that limit your own civil liability.
4.10.2009 10:20pm
Tom West:
One can debate the increased chances that someone ends up dead or seriously injured when people are allowed to carry weapons vs. decreased chance due to preventing crime all day.

But one factor that should be considered is that many fewer university students are likely to be able to effectively use any weapon in self-defense. Those who come from the middle and upper classes (from which the majority of university students are drawn) are vastly less likely to have any exposure to violence and more likely to have the general rules of civilized society (do not physically harm another human being *ever*) driven into them.

Likewise, they're typically in an area surrounded by their peers which accounts for the fact that there's a much smaller chance of encountering violent crime that needs to be deterred.

On the other hand, they are also of a prime age to do stupid thing (like get drunk) that increase the chance of misusing such weapons and accidentally injuring or killing each other.

So, if there's any place in America where allowing weapons is likely to have a negative payoff in terms of human suffering, I suspect it's the universities and institutions of higher learning.
4.10.2009 10:35pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So, there were no colleges back in the days of the so-called "Wild wild West"?

Whoda thunk?
There were. John Adams complained about Harvard's rules prohibiting students from hunting. But it wasn't the guns; they also prohibited fishing, and a variety of other distractions from education.

The "Wild West" was quite a bit less wild than some people think. See Roger D. McGrath's posthole survey Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier. He examines two mining camps widely regarded as the worst for violence: Bodie, California, and Aurora, Nevada. A few largely voluntary subcultures of young single men had very high rates of murder; these towns viewed in toto had effectively no violent crime, and he ascribes this largely to the high level of gun possession. Robbery (except for stagecoaches) was almost unknown, as was burglary and rape. Murder outside these saloon-based subcultures was very rare. Even including the murder problem, these towns that were regarded as notoriously violent in the Old West compare favorably to almost any big city in America today.
4.10.2009 11:23pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

On the other hand, they are also of a prime age to do stupid thing (like get drunk) that increase the chance of misusing such weapons and accidentally injuring or killing each other. [emphasis added]
I think I found the solution here. Alcohol dramatically increases the danger of almost every mechanical device. If you could fix the alcohol problem, it would solve the problem of guns on campus--and quite a number of other problems as well: date rape; drunk driving; fatal falls out of frat house bedroom windows (as happened recently at the University of Idaho to a student about nine sheets to the wind). Unfortunately, as one of the political science professors at Sonoma State University screeched at me some years ago, "self-discipline is a vastly overrated quality." Yeah: for children.
4.10.2009 11:29pm
whit:

So, if there's any place in America where allowing weapons is likely to have a negative payoff in terms of human suffering, I suspect it's the universities and institutions of higher learning.



instead of all this silly, nonfactual conjecture about why "institutions of higher learning" should be zones where civil rights, like the right to carry, shouldn't apply...

how about actually LOOKING AT EVIDENCE (vs. speculation) about what ACTUALLY happens when firearms ARE allowed.

like in WA state
or Utah.

and you will see that contrary to your speculation, there is no "negative payoff" for (god forbid) allowing people to exercise their constitutional rights.
4.10.2009 11:33pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Whit:

Completely agree.

I think most university kids won't have firearms but they will have plenty of other things that could be deadly weapons handy. While it has been said that computers make it possible to make more mistakes faster than any invention since taquila and handguns, the actual evidence is that guns are sufficiently rare and responsibly owned on college campuses that this is a non-issue.
4.11.2009 12:17am
Anon1111:


And I remember that when she deployed to Iraq, there was a whole song-and-dance whereby her duty-issue M-16 had to be checked out of the base armory and transported to the airport by her commanding officer in a government-owned vehicle with paperwork and a whole rigamarole that took about 2 hours.

With respect to government issued weapons (especially automatic weapons), I can understand a certain of care about transport and verification of where they are. But if you really think that your soldiers or airmen can be trusted with belt fed machine guns on the battlefield--but can't be trusted with a gun in their home--there's some serious explaining that needs to be done.


The Navy and Air Force are scared of guns. The Army a little less so, and the Marines even less so. But overall, since officers and senior enlisted are promoted less for doing things right than not having anything go wrong on their watch, stupid rules like this are put in place.

Ultimate stupid rule: when you deploy to Iraq, you can't take a knife on board the plane you are flying into the country on. Standard TSA rules at this point.
4.11.2009 12:18am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Clayton E. Cramer:

I used to brew my own beer in college. Turned out I wasn't violating any Washington State laws in the process despite the fact that I was under the legal drinking age, since home-brewing is exempted from almost every state alcohol control law.
4.11.2009 12:19am
Fact Checker:
In Massachusetts, by the way, the state bill of rights begins with, "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties ...." I know of no caselaw on the subject there, but there are many court decisions in other states interpreting such constitutional provisions as in fact securing an individual right. What happens to the right to defend life and liberty of students at Bridgewater and University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth students?

Come on Eugene, would you let your students get away with arguing that decisions in other states are binding precedent in interpreting the language of the Massachusetts state constitution?
4.11.2009 1:36am
t-boy (mail):
The rules of my dorm in college (Arizona) read that the campus Police would store any firearms for dorm residents. Obviously not many people took advantage of it, cause none of the police officers knew what to do with my 12 gauge, 10 mm pistol, SKS, and pair of Ruger 22 rifles. I also dropped off about 1000s rounds of assorted ammo. I had the shift leader sign an inventory I had printed up. My parents only lived 5 miles away, but I wanted to see what the process was. I don't think the campus police appreciated it very much.
4.11.2009 6:25am
Cro (mail):
Some things I see.

1. Most students living in dorms are not old enough to buy pistols anyway, since in most states the age requirement is 21.

2. Ditto with concealed weapon permits. In my state the age requirement is 25, much older than most students. Pistols are the most portable form of lethal self defense, and if students are carrying them they probably are not living in the dorm.

3. I'm not sure I'd like weapons in dorms because of the atmosphere of partying, alcohol and drug abuse. There's also the problem of theft given the living conditions. Anyone who has lived in a dorm situation should be able to recognize the difficulty of keeping anything hidden or safe.

4. For staff and students living off campus I don't see any problems at all with them being armed as long as local law is being followed.

5. As for less lethal weapons like mace and tasers, I don't understand why they wouldn't be allowed.
4.11.2009 8:14am
11-B/2O.B4:

Even military installations that have on-post family housing also ban weapons from those households as well.



No. Just no. Weapons are not to be kept for extended periods of time in the barracks, but are perfectly legal in housing. Which is why I used to leave my guns with a trusted squad leader. And yes, I think even that restriction in the barracks is silly.

And to the tard who is scared to teach legally armed students....Stats show that legally armed civilians are more law-abiding and less violent than police officers by a factor of two and the general populace by a factor of seven. And if, god forbid, something terrible happens in your classroom, and I am there, you want, pray and need for me to have a gun. I am better trained than most SWAT officers, hold a Top Secret security clearance and a CPL license for my state (Michigan). I would LOVE to teach a class where every last person was legally carrying.
4.11.2009 8:54am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
I don't know what kind of college you went to but I sure as hell can imagine a lot of misuse.

I love watching you nanny-staters in action.

I think we should enact legislation based on what people like you can "imagine."
It is really practical.
4.11.2009 9:00am
Joe The Plumber (mail):
Why don't turn our colleges into the Wild wild West and whoever is the best shooter wins.

Hysterical.

I think you should go on making points like this.

There are people who actually look at data regarding concealed carry and murder rates and then there are people who insist they are right.
4.11.2009 9:04am
htom (mail):
any articles that may be used as offensive weapons may be in the CCA or on the campus.

Pencils, pens, shoelaces, belts, rolled up newspapers, ....

"The MIND is the weapon, you apes, that thing in your paw is a TOOL!"
4.11.2009 9:30am
guess'd:
wasn't there a case involving a Walmart store in which guns were prohibited in the store, causing a woman to leave hers in her car one night and allowing her to be assaulted as she walked back to her car after shopping? According to the story, WM was found liable for her safety and consequently changed the no-guns policy for all their stores. I have heard this in several places, but never seen the real case. Anybody know?
4.11.2009 9:34am
einhverfr (mail) (www):

5. As for less lethal weapons like mace and tasers, I don't understand why they wouldn't be allowed.


On the other hand, the mace is one of the oldest lethal military weapons known to man. I suspect this is why variations on that theme were seen as symbols of civil authority among both the Hittites and the Romans (though the Roman symbol was far removed from the military weapon).
4.11.2009 11:28am
Cecil Turner (mail):
Interesting discussion, at least from the point of individual rights and likelihood of any particular self-defense behavior being efficacious. But it seems to me the bigger question is whether establishing a well-publicized "no self-defense zone" might not attract predators, or more likely, make their predations more deadly.

The Seung-Hui Cho case is instructive in at least one sense: his ability to isolate the victims made for a far bloodier massacre than would otherwise have been possible. The gunman's tactics would be unworkable if any students or faculty present had been armed, and he was apparently confident they were not. Whether the presumed greater likelihood of accidents is more compelling is an open question, but the inability of even VA Tech (with an on-campus police force complete with SWAT-like ERT team) to protect its personnel does not inspire confidence in institutional security measures.
4.11.2009 11:51am
MartyA:
It is a good thing that the armed evil doers are so dumb that they don't realize that the driver of the BMW with the Duke Student Parking permit on the back of it's rear view mirror is a target of opportunity.
4.11.2009 12:13pm
DennisN (mail):

No. Just no. Weapons are not to be kept for extended periods of time in the barracks, but are perfectly legal in housing. Which is why I used to leave my guns with a trusted squad leader. And yes, I think even that restriction in the barracks is silly.


I think the actual policy depends on the Post Commandant. As Anon 1111 pointed out, the military is scared of weapons. It's the fear of having a screwup. We'll charge into the gates of Hell with a handpump, but tremble at the knees with the thought of screwing up and wrecking our career. It's the peacetime military syndrome.

There were plenty of cases during Desert Storm where GIs were ordered to unload weapons while moving to contact. Can't have any accidents, you see. Of course, given our casualty rate during DS (which would not have been significantly altered had neither side been issued ammunition) they've been proven correct. Be very careful of what lessons you learn when everything goes right. {Rolling eyes}

The weapons policy when I was on active, was that Personally Owned Weapons in the barracks were kept in the arms room. They were a real PITA to inventory every month. ;-) If a soldier wanted his weapon when the armory was locked, he had to plan ahead. It was then kept with the Charge of Quarters sergeant, in his arms locker. The soldier could sign it out at any time.

All weapons, civilian and military, are strictly accounted for by signing in and signing out. They are inventoried by count daily and by serial number weekly. And if you think that's a PITA, wait until someone loses one. I was Survey Officer on a lost M16 once. What a bureaucratic nightmare.
4.11.2009 12:59pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
I personally think that real self defense should start out with unarmed combat, then move to clubs. Then move to knives. Then move to guns as hand-to-hand weapons (i.e. hitting someone with the gun), and finally moving to firearms practice. However start with what you have available always (hands and feet) and move from there.
Not a bad program for someone willing to take on the years of study and practice necessary to build and maintain all those skills. However, I can teach a never-touched-a-gun new shooter how to competently and safely hit a target in about four hours. That skill level can be maintained by periodic sessions at any public shooting range.
Can you count on getting a gun out in time in each of these?
For the past twenty-five years I’ve worked off and on with sexual assault and family violence agencies. The vast majority of violent crime victims I have talked to had enough warning of the impending attack to get a gun out. Unfortunately the warning often consisted of the hair on the back of their neck standing up, and was ignored. IMO the most important lesson any self-defense class can impart is not about methods, strategy or tactics. It’s listen to your instincts.
This doesn't really address unarmed combat techniques since I would be willing to bet they are practiced by only a small number of sexual assault victims.
In Texas, based on my experience among those who 1) survived and 2) sought help, about 60-70% physically resisted.
In reality MOST martial arts schools teach "martial sports."
Or relaxation/exercise. Rule of Thumb: Any school that has you dress in either a martial arts uniform or sweats isn’t really about street self-defense.
I seem to remember seeing a similar statistic from American sources (FBI maybe?), but I can't find it at the moment.
I’ve seen the study as well, but only in dead tree versions.
Police use it (pepper spray) routinely, consider it lower on the continuum of force than fists, and don't seem to be offing asthmatics and emphysema patients with it very often.
OTOH, police only tend to use pepper spray or stun guns when there are armed officers backing them up.
The woman I taught with would start every class with a talk along the lines of "Yes, you'll learn some defensive techniques here, but if you get to the point where you need to use them, you've already lost the first battle." We really emphasized staying out of the fight in the first place, rather than how to win it. And the physical techniques we taught were targeted less toward overwhelming the attacker with force and more with buying a few seconds of breathing room to make possible an escape from the situation.
I teach just about the same thing in my Texas concealed handgun license classes. In fact, we include a section on non-violent conflict resolution. Deadly force is the last resort among the five force options we teach.
If no one is armed, then armed attack can not happen.
Everyone with a fist is armed.
And I remember that when she deployed to Iraq, there was a whole song-and-dance whereby her duty-issue M-16 had to be checked out of the base armory and transported to the airport by her commanding officer in a government-owned vehicle with paperwork and a whole rigamarole that took about 2 hours.
This is relatively new. I remember Korean-era army barracks where the rack of M-1 Garands sat in the middle of the floor between the rows of bunks.

Personally, if you can’t trust soldiers with weapons, they aren’t soldiers.
BTW, I train with knives, clubs, and swords (real fighting, not the SCA medieval theater stuff). I might train with guns but the chance of me ever needing to use one where I live is close to zero.
What are the chances that you’ll have a sword when you need to protect yourself?
On the other hand, they are also of a prime age to do stupid thing (like get drunk) that increase the chance of misusing such weapons and accidentally injuring or killing each other.

So, if there's any place in America where allowing weapons is likely to have a negative payoff in terms of human suffering, I suspect it's the universities and institutions of higher learning.
Seniors? Grad students? Professors? The same people who tell us 21-year-old college students are incompetent also claimed:
Off-duty and retired cops carrying will shoot innocent people and cost cities billions in liability.
Airline pilots can’t be trusted with handguns because they’ll flip out and shoot unruly passengers.
CHLs in national parks will become poachers.
(Giggle test failure)
4.11.2009 1:20pm
Friend of Loki (mail):
Serfs were traditionaly not allowed weapons. Free men were.

Colleges - and "elite" institutions and people - who oppose the right to bear arms and the culture of self-reliance and self-defense typically also want to treat the general population as serfs in other ways.

The intent of the Framers - that the right of free men to keep and bear arms in defense of themsleves, their familes, their property, and their liberty, shall not be infringed - is clear.

I choose not to be a serf. Pistol training next week.
4.11.2009 2:42pm
Losantiville:
I kept firearms in my dorm at a small liberal arts college in the northwest in the early '70s. It was probably against policy but such policies are hard to enforce. After all, in the same era many students ignored the "visitation" policies in the same dorms and guns are easier to hide than men/women.
4.11.2009 4:17pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

What are the chances that you’ll have a sword when you need to protect yourself?


Sword training is actually aimed at complimenting space-management skills of the others. Although I sometimes do keep a bokken etc, around the house in easy reach, the main reason to study is not to use a sword.

Most of my training is aimed at extremely close-quarters fights. Someone tries to mug me and I will move *closer* to them before I move away. People describe it as training for a fist-fight in a phone booth. A lot of my movement training assumes variable range but is VERY closely tied to the assumption that I may be in combat with actual body-to-body contact.

With a sword, some of this training is still evident. And in fact the broadsword forms I have developed are all forms where I move in and end up in extremely close quarters. However, these forms address distances of 8, 6, 4, 2, and contact distances (contact being non-striking contact of chest/side/knees to chest/side/knees). Also a 3-ft sword trains you in space awareness in a way that other weapons to not. I don't practice with my kids around me with live steel, but I *will* practice with wood with the kids around, and I *will* practice alone in a room full of furniture. We have not had an accident with wood/person contact or with damaged furniture yet. I expect to start my eldest son with some of these forms next year.

Sword training also provides a number of other skills that I discovered (the hard way) were undeveloped in my other forms. These include weapons control, weapons-based checks, advanced balance, and so forth. These are all closely connected, and consequently this helps my unarmed and stick-fighting skills too.

So the sword is largely a matter of skill development rather than an idea that I will be wearing one when attacked. At the same time, it helps show how such
training can be complimentary to other training.....
4.11.2009 4:53pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
LarryA: One more point:

Or relaxation/exercise. Rule of Thumb: Any school that has you dress in either a martial arts uniform or sweats isn’t really about street self-defense.


Very true. Also the relaxation/exercise programs (Tai Chi) are probably going to serve you better in street self-defense than the martial sports are.....
4.11.2009 4:57pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
LarryA:

In Texas, based on my experience among those who 1) survived and 2) sought help, about 60-70% physically resisted.


I should have been more clear. I suspect that very few were competently trained in systems of unarmed combat.
4.11.2009 4:59pm
whit:

It is a good thing that the armed evil doers are so dumb that they don't realize that the driver of the BMW with the Duke Student Parking permit on the back of it's rear view mirror is a target of opportunity.



most of them are remarkably stupid AND failt to take advantage of technology and information. the GOOD ones do, and they are a challenge. most criminals are phenomenally unprofessional.

one example: pursuit policies are public record. anybody can research, often just by using the internet, what various agencies in their area do in regards to whether to pursue or not.

for example, several agencies in the greater seattle area pursue for BARK felonies only (Burglary, Arson, Rape, Kidnapping), or similar restrictions are employed. Iow, they will NOT pursue a stolen car if it takes off , at least not if they are following policy.

Other agencies WILL.

so, why wouldn't a criminal specifically target vehicles for theft in the areas that are under jurisdiction of the "no pursuit" agencies? answer: because they are stupid and don't take advantage of resources available to them.
4.11.2009 5:54pm
RJCT (mail):

I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.


I don't think I've ever delivered a lecture that was that bad.
4.11.2009 6:01pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
I wouldn't want to be lecturing in front of 200 students knowing any or all could be carrying a gun.
Perhaps higher education has changed since I attended in the 60s and 70s.

I suspect that VC posters range on the high end of college/university classroom hours experienced, the professors even more so. Has anyone actually witnessed a classroom discussion violent enough that students were physically assaulting each other or their prof? Or are you still more familiar with classes where students go to sleep?
4.11.2009 7:10pm
Robert Durtschi (mail):
>>The legislative compromise came about after the state’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the University of Utah could not ban guns on its campus in defiance of a state gun-rights law.

My how things have changed over the last 40 years. I kept a 8MM Mauser in my dorm room at Utah State and went hunting with it regularly in the hills behind campus on the weekends I didn't head for home. I was not unique in that respect.

Bob
4.11.2009 10:42pm
DennisN (mail):
@Robert Durtschi

Exactly.

I remember, when I was in high school, we were required to give a speech on a controversial topic. It didn't take a psychic to determine that mine would have something to do with guns.

My English teacher called me aside and asked, "Do you intend to bring a gun on campus to use as a prop? Because if you do, we need to figure out how to secure it."

Today, I'd probably have been SWAT raided as a precaution. {ROLLING EYES}
4.12.2009 12:54am
11-B/2O.B4:
The simple fact is that at some point, people stopped being scared of what guns can do (rational) and became scared of what they are (not rational).

Now, we have nimrods claiming that the simple possible presence of a firearm in their classroom would render them incapable of discharging their duties as a teacher. Seriously? I love argument and debate, but I've never seen anything in a college classroom approach anything in the vicinity of a physical confrontation. How much rarer would the use of a weapon be? Especially given the very strong data showing legal CCW holders to be remarkably peaceful folks. No, this really has nothing to do with danger, and everything to do with a deranged sense of reality.

And more to the point of the OP, banning all self defense tools is just insane. This is the logical philosophical and legal result of the process whereby individuals are deprived of their responsibility. We can't hold college students liable for anything, so the college must be, and the college won't be held liable for mace or pepper spray. (incidentally, ask anyone who's been in the eighty-deuce, chemical sprays can have a tolerance built up for them, small downside.)
4.12.2009 1:08am
A.C.:
In answer to the person who asked about murders at Cornell --

There was a double murder in a dorm when I was there in the 80s. Ex-boyfriend, a non-student, was let into the dorm by "helpful" residents who recognized him. He proceeded to shoot ex-girlfriend and her roommate. Then he led the police on a car chase before shooting himself.

For most women, the late-night assault by a stranger outdoors is a pretty remote possibility. The real risk is indoors, from men who are known to their victims.

To the person who said you can't make anything safe and secure in a dorm, you're right. This includes the physical safety of the residents, at least in long-corridor dorms where people are coming and going at all hours. There's even a prejudice against asking what strangers are doing there, because chances are they're just there for a bit of recreation with the residents.

Should all women be allowed to carry weapons in that environment? How about all men? Just people who have been through bad break-ups recently? The environment itself would seem to be the problem, and I don't know if there's a decent solution that relies on individual self-defense. But I still think people should have that option when their environment is inherently insecure.
4.12.2009 7:18am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
In Massachusetts, by the way, the state bill of rights begins with, "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties ...." I know of no caselaw on the subject there, but there are many court decisions in other states interpreting such constitutional provisions as in fact securing an individual right.

GOAL could probably help you, but Massachusetts is largely discretionary as to issuing of Licenses to Carry by non-student adults, with varying standards by municipality, the state bill of rights notwithstanding. Boston and Cambridge are notoriously difficult places to get an LTC.
4.12.2009 10:19am
OldEasterner:
It is important to add that it is a crime (possibly misdemeanor) for even a "licensed to carry" individual to carry on any school (colleges and universities included) grounds according to Massachusetts law. There is a written permission exception that is never granted by any school trustee.

Also, in Massachusetts pepper-spray is legally defined as "ammunition" which means that you must have a permit to possess it.

The law that bars self-defense with firearms on campus, does not exclude ammunition. So, with a permit to possess the pepper spray, at least you are not in violation of state law.
4.13.2009 2:35pm
LorenW:
>>The legislative compromise came about after the state’s Supreme Court ruled in September that the University of Utah could not ban guns on its campus in defiance of a state gun-rights law.


And 40 years ago, I learned to shoot in a rifle range in the basement of the administrative building of (then) Eastern Montana College.
4.14.2009 11:07am

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