Saturday, December 12, 2015

Good guys with guns they don't know how to use

This University of Texas undergraduate and founder of UT Students Against Guns on Campus, Zachary Stone, recounts his adventures with obtaining a concealed carry license which will give him the right to attend class packing heat.
 In late May, after school let out, the Texas Legislature passed a bill that, among other things, authorized individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms in most college buildings. “Campus carry” was a hard-fought victory for Republicans. My school — the University of Texas at Austin — continues to largely oppose the law. Administrators, the student government and the faculty council have all publicly regretted our legal reality. We don’t like it that students 21 or older can get a license, buy a gun and bring that gun to class. One clever undergraduate’s protest involves students bringing sex toys to school because, unlike guns, they are not allowed on campus.
On behalf of our student government, I moderated a debate in November between the University Democrats and the College Republicans. My goal was to get past litigating the merits of campus carry. Considering our governor’s and legislators’ sympathies, the law is here to stay; we should responsibly approach the challenges it presents.
One of these challenges lies in ensuring that license holders are actually responsible. While Republicans swear by their regulatory scheme, Democrats point out that it takes more training to become a manicurist than to carry a Smith & Wesson.
For the debate, I wanted to be able to ask questions about the licensing system. To prepare, I decided to go through the licensing process, even though, technically speaking, I should have had weapons training before I applied. Knowing nothing about guns, I was supposed to fail. But I passed on the first try.
I’ve lived in Texas all my life, but I’d never touched a gun — they actually scare me. When I arrived at the gun shop to get my license, I didn’t know what to expect, except that there would be training and assessment. The course included no instruction about how to neutralize an active shooter, deal with moving targets, avoid innocent people or manage adrenaline and anxiety.
Some of the things that we did discuss in class left me exasperated.
The class was six hours long, but the instructor told us exactly what we needed for the exam in the final five minutes. Then, we got the test: 25 questions, multiple choice — mostly about where you can lawfully carry your gun. City Hall? University buildings? Elementary school parking lots? All of the above. Everyone passed. I got 100.
Next, it was time to prove our shooting proficiency. We drove to a field with some silhouette targets lined up. “Standard B-27s,” the instructor told us.
I shot. The gun flew back. My neighbors each hit the center, but I missed a foot too high.
I didn’t realize I’d have to shoot again so soon. I hadn’t taught myself how to aim yet, and I wanted a few seconds to learn from the first shot. I also hadn’t learned how to deal with the recoil. Anxiously, I pointed and shot — a few seconds after my neighbors. I still missed.
That’s when the instructor yelled at me. “You need to line up your sights!” I had no idea what that meant. He explained that for me to aim properly the dot at the front of the gun needed to be inside the post at the back of the gun.
That was remarkably useful information.
My next shot hit the center “X.”
So we went through this, at slightly farther distances, until we had each fired 50 rounds. My bullet holes were all over the place. You get five points for hitting the inner circles, four for the outer circle, and three for hitting anywhere else on the silhouette. To pass, you need 175 out of 250 points. If you fail, you get two more chances. I did pretty well in the end — I got 216 points.
As the instructor signed my certificate of shooting proficiency, he asked a legitimate question: “You’ve never fired a gun before today. Why do you want to carry one around?” I had to pause and think, but I replied calmly. “It’s my right.”
After almost zero training and a 10-minute test, the State of Texas considers me responsible to carry a gun. Once my background check clears, I’ll have the license. I am not an outlier. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, 99.7 percent of applicants in 2014 received their license.
Hosting the university debate, I did my best to remain impartial. But the Republicans got the toughest question after I told this story to a crowded auditorium.
“Given that the system allows me — lacking firearm experience — to get a license, would you be comfortable if we sat with each other in class, upon learning I’m secretly carrying a gun?”[my bolding]
  The panel at the University of Texas which recommended allowing guns in classrooms was wrestling with the university's legal obligation to comply with the new concealed campus carry law passed by its lunatic legislature. Sometimes, however, protecting a community should outweigh dealing with lawsuits down the road. The university has on its payroll at the law school some of the best legal talent in Texas---why not let the Texas A.G.---currently facing criminal trial himself---take them to court?

 On the Daily Show, Jordon Klepper shares a very similar experience.Video here and here.

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