State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

by on February 25, 2015 6:30 AM

And the winner of the award for worst crime prevention idea I've ever heard goes to...

Guns on Campus!

Yes, those who believe that firearms shall make us safe are promoting a sure-fire (so to speak) way to prevent sexual assaults on female college students: Arm the "hot little girls," as Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore calls them.

Guy tries anything funny, ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom -- bullet in the head of a would-be rapist.

Fiore is fond of hot little things. It's how she described the 9-millimeter pistol she had in a holster between her thighs during a telephone interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The first thing a lot of people thought of when they heard of this push to arm students was the ocean of alcohol on which undergraduate culture floats. Forget, for a moment, the mayhem a drunk with a gun could inflict and just think of the potential for accidental shootings.

Fiore is not overly concerned. She informed Chronicle writer Andy Thomason that alcohol is not permitted on campus.

Right. There is no alcohol on campus and no one ever jaywalks in downtown State College.

And besides, Fiore told Thomason, "If you're a concealed weapon permit holder, and you've got a background check, and you've gone through training, and you know the rules and the law, and you're from the Planet Zortron, you're not going to put yourself into a drunken situation where you are under the influence and have a firearm."

Actually, I added the part about Planet Zortron because Fiore could not possibly have been referring to humans from the Planet Earth.

Is this serious? The New York Times reports that bills to permit guns on campus have been introduced in 10 states. Not surprisingly, the wacko liberal freedom haters who read The Times were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the idea. Among the questions they raised:

  • Do we want intoxicated victims handling guns?
  • As horrific as rapes are, do we want to replace them with summary executions?
  • Do we want to put sexual assault victims in the position of having to prove their innocence of murder?
  • Couldn't a guy who can overpower an unarmed woman be able to overpower an armed woman before she has a chance to use her weapon?
  • Wouldn't non-lethal pepper spray deter a would-be rapist just as effectively?
  • The victim usually knows the assailant. Why would anyone pack heat on a date?

The wacko liberal freedom haters in my Penn State classes this semester don't think much of the guns-on-campus idea either. The vote: 2 for, 28 against.

Then there's Tyrone Parham, the university's director of police. Parham envisions scenarios, fairly common hereabouts, where a drunk bumps into another drunk or looks at another drunk's girlfriend. A shoving match ensues. If no one is armed, it usually ends there. Add guns to the mix and things could escalate horrifically.

Knowing how careless students are about securing their valuables, Parham also worries about burglars -- who don't have weapons permits and aren't trained and clearly have no compunction about breaking the law -- obtaining guns from unlocked dorm rooms.

I, too, can imagine a couple of spooky scenarios. In the "This American Life" radio program devoted to Penn State's drinking culture in 2009, students confessed to host Ira Glass that they didn't just find the stop sign they were dragging down the street. They had uprooted it. If students were armed I can see stop signs and other street hardware becoming targets in late-night shooting competitions.

After all, if a college kid can stick a bottle rocket up his own butt and light it to see what would happen, as Caitlin Flanagan reported in the Atlantic last year, there's no telling what a sozzled gunslinger might do.

Keep the kitties inside, you townies who live near campus. Bulletproof the house.

I could also imagine a distraught student who received a D on a paper sending the prof who graded it to his eternal rest. This prof, accordingly, makes this promise to his loved ones: The day guns are permitted on campus is the day I turn in my pipe, my elbow patches, and my red pen and retire to a land where the palm trees sway.

There is no easy solution to the problem of hot little boys forcing themselves on women after a night of drinking, but it would be nice to see a more sensible idea than turning campuses and college towns into shooting galleries.


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A collection of Russell Frank's columns, titled “Among the Woo People: A Survival Guide for Living in a College Town," is available from the Penn State University Press. His columns for won first place for commentary in the 2019 Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Chapter Best in Journalism contest. The winning columns: The Women’s March: Notes from New York, It’s Time to Change the Script and Mixed Messages at Bellefonte High. Frank is a member of the journalism faculty at Penn State. Before launching his academic career, he worked as a reporter, editor and columnist at newspapers in California and Pennsylvania. He is, by academic training, a folklorist (Ph.D., UPenn), which means, when you strip away the academic jargon, that he loves a good story. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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