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A modest proposal for carrying guns on campus

Suddenly, everybody wants guns on campus.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday, plenty of people turned out to say how guns on school campuses could prevent crime. Banning guns only lets bad guys know people are easy prey, they said. Police, even campus police, can’t respond to incidents as quickly as an armed school employee, went another argument.

Personally, I have no problem with law-abiding faculty, staff, even university students who are of legal age carrying weapons, provided they have the required permit. But university officials — and cops — were universally opposed.

And they raise some pretty good points. For example, in what we’ve now come to call an “active shooter incident,” how are responding police officers to tell the perpetrators from the law-abiding citizens bravely trying to fend off the madman?

That got me to thinking: Perhaps we could give some kind of an emblem to concealed weapons permit holders that designates them as a person authorized to carry a weapon on campus. This emblem would be instantly recognizable to police officers, who would know that anybody carrying it was one of the good guys. That way, we can all concentrate our fire on the source of the trouble.

To be effective, this emblem would have to be similar in design, and of such a shape and color as to be quickly recognized. I’d suggest using a shiny metal, to increase its visibility.

But even that, in and of itself, wouldn’t completely do the trick. Say you were wearing your emblem on your shirt, but facing away from arriving cops and pointing your weapon at the bad guy. Those officers still wouldn’t be able to tell you were a good guy, and you can’t just turn your back on an armed active shooter to introduce yourself to the cops!

On the other hand, maybe if all concealed weapons permit holders who wanted to carry weapons on campus and help fight gun-related violence were to, say, wear similar clothing, that might do the trick. Then, no matter which direction police officers were coming from, they’d be able to tell that the person wearing, saying, Navy blue pants and a Navy blue short-sleeved shirt (in the summer) or long-sleeved shirt (in the winter) was a good guy, and the person not wearing those colors was the suspect. Problem solved!

But some other issues were raised at the hearing by opponents of campus-carry legislation. For example, they noted that concealed weapons permit holders take only a one-day course, which is probably not sufficient training to deal with active-shooter situations. So maybe, what we can do is send those people who want to carry weapons on elementary or college campuses to a longer training course. They could learn more about firearms handling, active shooter tactics, cover and concealment (they’re not the same!), effecting a citizen’s arrest and how to handle situations short of using a firearm. Call it an advanced citizen’s concealed weapons permit training course, or something. Maybe an “academy.” Yeah, “academy” is easier to remember.

Then, when you graduate from that academy, you’d get your similar-looking clothing, your emblem showing you’re authorized to carry on campus and maybe even a nice holster to carry your weapon, as a bonus. Then you’d be ready to confront evildoers on school campuses and keep the peace. In fact, we could even refer to graduates using that phrase: Peace keepers. Peace makers? No, that’s not it.

Peace officers! That’s it! We’d be able to deploy peace officers on our campuses, and wouldn’t we all feel safer after we did? Then there might be much less of a need for us regular civilian types to carry our own weapons.

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and author of the blog SlashPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at (702) 387-5276 or ssebelius@reviewjournal.com.

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