Is gun control effective? WMU-Cooley professors debate open carry laws in schools

Should Open Carry be Allowed in Public Schools? That was the topic of a debate held at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus on Dec. 2. WMU-Cooley Law School Professor David Tarrien, who teaches courses in education law, debated the issues with Adjunct Professor Steven Dulan, who teaches courses in gun law.  The debate was scheduled in response to a recent court decision allowing the Ann Arbor school district to impose gun-free zones, but was inadvertently also timed with the mass shooting in California, which made the conversation even more poignant and essential.

WMU-Cooley Professor David Tarrien, with a background in education, speaks to audience during debate over gun control.

WMU-Cooley Professor David Tarrien, with a background in education, speaks to audience during debate over gun control.

“From a policy standpoint,” started WMU-Cooley Professor David Tarrien, “allowing concealed pistols or open carry into schools is like allowing fish to have more bicycles – the concept doesn’t make sense and is a bad choice for three basic reasons; it is uncivil, it is unsafe, and it is ineffective.”

Tarrien went on to say that “Bad guys with guns do not go to schools because they are gun free, they go to soft target areas because they are abundant with people. They will go there whether there are law abiding citizens with guns or not. Adding more private citizens will only add to the chaos – not prevent it.”

WMU-Cooley Adjunct Professor Steven Dulan, with a military background, talks during a debate over the right to legally carry guns in Michigan schools.

WMU-Cooley Adjunct Professor Steven Dulan, with a military background, talks during a debate over the right to legally carry guns in Michigan schools.

Professor Steven Dulan took the position that posting “no guns” signs actually creates an atmosphere of uncertainty.  He said that making a public statement that guns aren’t allowed lets potential shooters know they won’t be confronted by law-abiding citizens with guns.

“While this area of law (Open Carry) is currently in flux, the public policy arguments favoring armed citizens are sound,” stated Dulan, “While my opponent and I agree on our hope for more safety, it turns out that putting a ‘No Guns’ sign up doesn’t actually ensure that there won’t be guns there. In fact, it turns that place into a Mass Murderer Empowerment Zone. Someone who is bent on committing a horrible crime will not be deterred by one more law, or a sign.”

Dulan also spoke about laws disarming individuals, noting they deny the right to self-defense, while allowing criminals freedom to commit crimes without the worry about an immediate response. “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. Guns are plentiful and durable. No law can make them disappear. The only impact of laws that disarm citizens anywhere is to deny them their basic right to self-defense, while violent criminals are free to commit crimes without worry about an immediate response.”

“You are constantly surrounded by guns whether you realize it or not,” Dulan added, while noting there are nearly 500,000 concealed pistol licensees in Michigan. “There is no logical reason to exclude us from any specific areas unless the area is secured by metal detectors and armed guards. We are your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. We do not act as vigilantes. In fact, the overall crime rate for CPL holders is approximately 10 percent of the crime rate for the general population.”

WMU-Cooley Law School Professors Steven Dulan (left) and David Tarrien debated Michigan’s gun laws during a forum on Dec. 2. Photo: Courtesy Cynthia Price and the Legal News

WMU-Cooley Law School Professors Steven Dulan (left) and David Tarrien debated Michigan’s gun laws during a forum on Dec. 2. Photo: Courtesy Cynthia Price and the Legal News

Tarrien replied by noting that allowing guns in schools is, “uncivil in a society ruled by law, codifying vigilantism as a standard concedes to defeat to anarchy.” He also noted that Michigan’s requirement to attain a concealed pistol license is “inadequate to the task of crisis assessment in an active shooter scenario.”

“The risk of collateral damage (to children and school personnel being caught in crossfire), law enforcement arriving and not being able to distinguish between ‘good guys with guns’ and ‘bad guys with guns’ and even the possibility of safety negligence – accidentally leaving a gun behind in a bathroom or dropping a gun while trying to break up an altercation (both of which have actually happened in Michigan schools within the past year) suggest the potential harm outweighs the efficacy of having the guns in the school.”

Should Open Carry be Allowed in Public Schools? What are your thoughts and opinions on the effectiveness of gun control?

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