February 18, 2008

Text Messages Don't Stop Crime

A futile effort, to say the least:

In the event of an emergency on North Carolina State University's campus, officials would send out text messages to faculty, students and staff.

Getting people to sign up to receive the "WolfAlert" messages is another issue.

Of the 40,000 faculty, students and staff at N.C. State, only 10,000 have registered their phone numbers, despite campus-wide advertising. For those who have signed-up, school officials plan to test the system this week.

N.C. State isn't the only campus trying to get this type of system off the ground. On North Carolina's 110 public and private college campuses, new safety measures have quickly become the priority.

"Our challenges are population and geography. We're the largest in terms of students and area," said David Rainer, N.C. State's associate vice chancellor for environmental health and safety.

Last year, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper formed a task force to look at crisis communication plans at colleges and universities. The task now is to make sure those plans work.

The plans being used will do very little to stop the next Virginia Tech or NIU.

Keeping involuntarily committed people from being able to purchase firearms and getting the mentally ill treatment are laudable goals, but messaging systems and alarms are reactive in nature, and would not have saved a single life at either of the universities when gunmen rampaged through classrooms in a matter of minutes. In both instances, the events would have been over, or almost over, before an alert was even issued.

These are feel-good solutions, but in general are not real solutions to stop a threat as it is occurring. They are designed merely to speed emergency response to those who are lucky enough to survive the initial onslaught, or to keep a shooter from moving from one building into another after catastrophic events have already started. If you happen to be in the room or building when such an unlikely assault takes place, there is little that can currently be done to save you.

In such situations, only luck can save you if you are unarmed. I'd like to see university administrators in North Carolina rationally discuss the pros and cons of allowing faculty, staff and students in off-campus housing with concealed carry permits to carry their handguns on campus. I can find little evidence of such a conversation having occurred.

Perhaps university administrators are under the impression that by posting policies declaring university campuses "gun free" that they in fact are. I know for a fact that is not the case from my own university days, when I knew of at least three students who chose to carry pistols because they did not feel (rightfully) that university police officers, while diligent, could be relied upon to be there at the precise moment they were needed if a violent crime was visited upon them.

This was over a decade ago. University shootings were virtually unheard of at the time, and those I knew to carry did so because of a fear of sexual assault or armed robbery on or near campus.

Those I speak with now are now typically staff and faculty-aged, and while those fears of being a victim of a case of individual violent crime are still valid, I've heard some talk from staff and faculty would would feel safer if they had the means to legally protect their fellow staff members and students if a school shooter happened upon their classroom or administration building. They aren't looking to be heroes. Like most in the education field, they only want what is best for their students, and they tend to agree that life is one of their students continuing interests.

Not all university staff and faculty are comfortable with the idea of fellow faculty and staff being armed—in fact, I'd hazard a guess that most are probably uncomfortable with the general concept of having to face the fact that firearms are indeed on university campuses. They would rather pretend them away.

But firearms are on university campuses across North Carolina, and they always will be as long as distant parking lots and night classes exist. Instead of making self-defense illegal and typically be practiced by those with no formal training, it would perhaps be far wiser to allow those who have undergone the legal training, shooting qualifications, and background investigation to earn a CCH to legally carry a defensive handgun on campuses.

Allowing CCH to legal permit holders is not guaranteed to stop any specific crime on college campuses, but what it does do is give qualified citizens the option, and that is a discussion worth having, and far more likely to help prevent or stop a violent crime on campus than a belated text message or siren.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 18, 2008 12:38 PM

But it will make local officials "feel good" that they are "doing something" about the problem... and when November rolls around they'll be sure to mention their "alert system" on their ads.

In short, it's the same song, 482nd verse... throw money at a solution that won't solve the problem, so you can throw more money at it next election and proclaim how much "good" you are doing.

Posted by: C-C-G at February 18, 2008 03:06 PM

Like you said, the alert system only works after the initial incident/attack.

I attended Mass College of Art in a rough part of Boston (the Huntington Ave Projects were right next to our dorm) from 1988 to 1991 and in 1990, we had no less than 2 shootings on what would be considered 'campus grounds', nevermind the regular muggings, assaults and other such issues that go along with a 'bad neighborhood.'

I was actually brought up on charges of having an 'illegal weapon' by the Head of the Dorm (she found my double edged Gerber boot knife during a room inspection) and during the subsequent hearing with my parents and the Provost, my father flat out told them that they were lucky that I didn't have my Ruger .357 wheelgun in my room, as he had insisted that I carry it as it was such a dangerous area to live in, and that I had told him that I didn't want to risk the possible repurcussions... That blew their minds let me tell you. (Needless to say, nothing ever came of it and I left the next semester for the Army... screw that place!)

That modern College campuses are filled with the Liberal "Feel Good We Can Talk It Out" 1960's Academicians goes to prove that until a College President or memebers of a Board of Regentsare gunned down and killed, then nothing will change.

Posted by: Big Country at February 18, 2008 09:26 PM

"In such situations, only luck can save you if you are unarmed."

I submit that you are always armed with your fists and feet, and running would also be a good idea, even if only in circles around the room. It's harder to hit a moving target, especially for the un/der trained. I will NOT just curl up in the corner hoping not to be executed next.

Posted by: douglas at February 19, 2008 12:01 AM

The only thing that will stop another VT/NIU is some armed professors (a few, very few may pass a mental exam) and armed students that have not bit into the leftest brainwashing.

Posted by: Scrapiron at February 19, 2008 12:12 AM

This is also perfectly in line with the lefty response to any other crime... you are to call the police, meaning that by the time they get to you, the murder could have been completed, you could be assuming room temperature on the floor, and the culprit could be miles away. But at least you didn't (gasp) use a gun yourself! Lefty policies have saved you from that fate worse than death! And you didn't harm the felon who just could be a Democratic voter some day (look at which party tends to propose laws restoring the vote to convicted felons).

Posted by: C-C-G at February 19, 2008 12:42 AM

I have no problem with anyone carrying a gun with a permit as long as the same people have to take responsibility for their actions with those weapons. I understand the desire to defend one's self against attack and bodily harm. However, most arguments I've seen hear about arming professors or students to prevent attacks from continuing. There is a difference. The former is where your life is at risk while the later is when someone decides to interject themselves into an obviously volatile situation. In essence, vigilantism. Police officers have very specific scenarios when they are allowed to draw their weapon and discharge it. What would the rules be for armed professors? What if it was a drunken mob of frat boys molesting some girls? What if it was someone on drugs beating his girlfriend? rowdy fans fighting in the stands of a football games? A batter charging a pitcher for being beaned? All these situations happen way more frequently on college campuses then a campus shooting. Each situation can be a cause for bodily harm. Having armed professors charge into those scenarios can equally cause a situation to get better as get worse. Guns have a way of escalating the potential violence possible. If someone is willing to take the elevated risks and consequences of carrying a gun, they should be allowed to carry weapons to defend themselves.

Posted by: matta at February 19, 2008 08:55 AM

Elevating the violence, Matta?

Tell me, how much would the "violence" have "escalated" if one person with a gun had shot these gunmen at the beginning of their rampage?

Not to mention the question of, would they have even tried it on a campus where they knew there would be other armed people? Perhaps they would have, but perhaps not. Even if one assumes that their motive was their own personal fame, how much fame is there in getting killed by an English professor with a 9mm after you've only shot one person?

An armed populace is the best deterrent against crime. And people like you, matta, who think that we can't trust our citizens with guns, are--consciously or unconsciously--echoing dictators since the invention of the gun, from the former Soviet Union to Castro to Saddam. All have systematically removed guns from the people's hands.

You might want to think about that, sir.

Posted by: C-C-G at February 19, 2008 09:35 AM

I would also take exception to matta's argument. The point of having a gun isn't to use it in any circumstance where harm is being done (i.e. rushing a pitcher at a baseball game)and that isn't the point. The point is: if a person comes into a classroom with a handgun or semiautomatic, what's more effective-him shooting 4-5 people before being rushed by some courageous soul who gets killed, or having three people in that classroom pull out guns and drop the idiot before he gets a chance?

Any person who should be allowed to have a gun should understand the basic premise that a gun is a lethal weapon and you do not use it unless you are willing to take a life. I had that beaten into my head when I was still using a BB gun and I've never forgotten it. If that is the standard people use to judge whether weapons use is appropraite, I can't think of anywhere safer to be than on an armed campus

Posted by: BigSkygrl at February 19, 2008 03:10 PM

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

Posted by: Matt at February 19, 2008 08:37 PM