Allow for campus defense

opinion by Roy Hill
Roy Hill is a former instructor at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, where he also was the coach for the UAFS air rifle team, the Lions Rifle. He now lives and works in Iowa.

Editor’s note: Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of The City Wire.

The Arkansas State Legislature will once again consider if concealed carry will apply to the campuses of state colleges and universities.

Good. Maybe this time, they’ll get it right.

Those with carry permits, especially those who are faculty, staff, administrators and employees of Arkansas public colleges and universities, should be allowed to defend themselves on campus. Ideally, all permit holders should be able to carry on campus. But if the state legislature can accomplish only college-employee carry, then so be it.

This subject keenly interests me. I worked for years as a college English instructor and an Arkansas concealed carry (CCW) instructor.

I taught college English from August 1993 until December 2011, including at four Arkansas colleges and universities. I spent 12 years in the English department at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. For nine of those years, I taught the Arkansas State Police concealed carry class, with instructor certification number 02-423.

It simply makes no sense for the state to forbid concealed carry permit holders from carrying inside buildings on college campuses, when the same permit holders can legally carry inside grocery stores, at the movies, in restaurants, or on the public sidewalk that runs along the edge of campus. It makes even less sense when those forbidden permit holders include faculty, staff, administrators and employees who spend their days on campus.

During my 18 years in higher education, I heard some express objections against the idea of mere civilian gun ownership itself, much less concealed carry. I heard some proclaim themselves uncomfortable about being around people with guns. But with a growing number of Arkansans obtaining concealed carry permits, it will become more likely you are around somebody legally carrying a gun.

Of course, venturing out means you’ll also come near those carrying guns illegally. We call this group “criminals,” as they tend to ignore nit-picky “laws,” including those forbidding murder, rape, violent assault and armed robbery. And criminals go everywhere, including onto a college campus.

To get an Arkansas carry permit, you must be at least 21 years old, a U.S. citizen and have lived in Arkansas for a specified time prior to applying. You must pass the State Police training class. You must submit your fingerprints for a State Police background check that includes your mental health records. You must pay the Arkansas State Police more than $140. You must wait several weeks to give both your county sheriff’s office and local city police department opportunity to express concerns or doubts against you receiving the permit, which can be denied or revoked for all sorts of reasons, without a refund. People who get Arkansas carry permits have been vetted and checked by the state more than just about any other group.

If you look hard enough, you can find examples of permit holders who have been arrested and convicted of crimes in the 18 years since Arkansas adopted shall-issue concealed carry. You can also find an Arkansas Governor and an Attorney General who’ve been arrested and convicted since 1990.

A few years ago, an anti-gun group made a big stink over the percentage of Texas carry permit holders who had been arrested for any reason. In response, a pro-carry group produced official state statistics showing that Texas police officers were arrested at a much higher rate than the permit holders. As a group, permit holders are among the most law-abiding folks around. They have to be just to qualify for the permit in the first place.

An objection often raised is that since CCW permit holders are not typically trained to the level of Delta Recon SWAT Ranger sniper SEALs. There’s no way they, as mere civilians, could stop a violent criminal bent on killing.

In Oklahoma in October of 2012, 12-year-old Kendra St. Clair managed to defend herself with a .40 caliber pistol against a criminal who invaded her home. Thus far, I have not discovered what high-level training program enabled that 12-year-old to defend herself. The idea that mere civilians can’t stop violent attacks is simply wrong. It was reported, but not widely, that the Clackamas, Ore., shopping mall shooter killed himself as soon as he was confronted by a mere civilian with a carry permit and a pistol.

As a handgun instructor I frequently saw that even the least-experienced could quickly learn to get hits on torso-sized targets at inside-a-classroom distances. To be fair, getting the same hits in a high-stress situation would be less simple, but the mechanical skill itself is not hard to learn.

Every single campus shooter I have researched has had zero high-level training, except maybe for playing lots of video games. Somehow, the untrained crazies seem perfectly able to hit targets in high-stress situations. Of course, it’s easy to hit targets who are mandated to be unarmed and defenseless just because they happen to work or attend class on a college campus.

Again, it’s not widely reported, but there are examples of campus shootings stopped by concealed carry permit holders.

The Pearl, Miss., high school shooting was stopped by assistant principal with a gun. He might have stopped the rampage quicker, only the assistant principal complied with the law, and parked his vehicle containing his gun off campus. He had to leave the shooter inside the school, run several hundred yards to get his gun and then sprint back. Armed students stopped a shooter at the Appalachian School of Law. An armed civilian stopped a murderer who shot people at a Pennsylvania middle-school dance in 1998.

Police officers perform a tough, demanding job, for which they should all be commended. But police typically arrive at the scene of violence after the fact. At Virginia Tech, it took police several minutes to respond, giving the murderer time to kill 30 before committing suicide. This was all after the murderer had already killed two others in a dorm room, filmed his twisted personal propaganda video and mailed it off to a news network, and then chained shut the doors at both ends of a campus building so his intended victims couldn’t escape.

There’s a reason why the following saying exists: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” At the Northern Illinois campus shooting, police got on scene in as little as 180 seconds, still plenty of time for the murderer to kill five and wound several others with a pump shotgun.

When violence happens, it’s the people on the scene – the intended victims – who must respond. If they choose to simply wait on the police, it may well be too late once the police do arrive. There are those who say that countering violence with a concealed handgun is itself barbaric and uncivilized. Apparently, it’s more civilized and less barbaric to cower under a desk and wait for it to be your turn. Sheep do seem more civilized compared to the wolves that would kill them. Or is “domesticated” a more accurate term?

For nine years, it vexed me that the state of Arkansas certified me to teach the class required to get a CCW permit, but also prohibited me from effectively defending myself just because I worked on a college campus. Depending on the day, this contradiction struck me as misguided good intentions at best, or at worst, as absolutely immoral.

I vividly remember having a beer one warm spring evening with a colleague who was not pro-gun, but who agreed with me that current laws rendered college campuses as defenseless targets, ripe for the next evil wacko wanting to make a name for himself. The following Monday was April 16, 2007, the day of the Virginia Tech shooting. On that day, the contradiction seemed absolutely immoral.

The contradiction made even less sense when college faculty, staff, administrators and students showed up for my concealed carry classes. I won’t out any of them, but I taught the CCW class to several who attended classes or worked at UAFS, and others who worked at or attended the University of Arkansas. I could not understand why these people who wanted a legal way to defend themselves were prevented from protecting their own lives simply because they spent their time inside buildings on a college campus.

More than a few times, I had to explain to female college employees that state law prohibited them from legally carrying their handgun from inside their on-campus office to the dark on-campus parking lot after work, but the state did magnanimously allow them to legally carry on the public sidewalks on the edge of campus, or just across the street from campus. I also often wondered how those I heard disparage concealed carry and gun ownership would react, if they only knew exactly how many of their colleagues had carry permits and pistols, including that nice, friendly, politically-liberal professor in the office down the hall?

Every college faculty member who is honest can name people they’ve met on campus who seem fully capable of violence. During my first semester as a grad assistant at the University of Arkansas, a student responded to a bad grade by cutting up his textbook with a knife, and implying that I might be next. I reported it to the proper authorities, without result. The event taught me that only I was ultimately responsible for my personal safety, no matter what security measures or laws might be in place.

An on-campus murder prompted me to become a concealed carry instructor. In August, 2000, University of Arkansas professor Dr. John Locke was killed in his Kimpel Hall office by student James Kelly. I never had a class with Dr. Locke, but I knew him enough to say “hello” in the hallway.


My graduate assistant office was in Kimpel Hall, just upstairs from where Locke would die a few years later. I spent an entire semester sitting two feet to the right of James E. Kelly in a class taught by the late Dr. Kenneth Kinnamon. Kinnamon later told a reporter he was sadly not surprised to hear that Kelly had murdered Locke.

While searching the archives to write this column, I discovered that Kelly completed his bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College. Because of my new job, I’m shopping for a house in Grinnell, Iowa. Finding Kelly’s connection to my new town is one more proof that those capable of murder are everywhere. I became a concealed carry instructor in the hope I could teach others the knowledge and skills that might save their lives in case they came face to face with somebody like Kelly.

Shortly before I left UAFS, I attended a presentation on the emergency plan should some sort of violent attack occur on campus. The plan included the typical smart suggestions you hear, including from concealed carry instructors. Call 9-1-1. Be a good witness. Lock or barricade the doors. Hunker down and hide if you can. But part of the presentation stunned me. We were told, “As a last resort, fight back.” When I heard that, I wanted to stand up and yell, “Fight back? With WHAT?”

State law prohibited me from possessing on campus the self-defense tool I was trained to use, and certified by the state to teach others to use. The state mandated I be unarmed at work, but I was being given permission to “fight back” as a last resort. Absolutely ridiculous.

It’s time to let people with CCW permits defend themselves on Arkansas’ college campuses, especially if they are faculty, staff, administrators and employees who spend most of their days on those campuses. To use a saying loved by the gun-banners, if it saves only one life, it’s worth it.

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 3.7 (23 votes)

Like This Article? Share It!


Not sure how I feel about

Not sure how I feel about guns at schools mostly because the odds of either being a school shooting victim or actually using the gun are less likely than getting struck by lightning. But for the sake of a little balance, the often cited cases listed in this opinion piece leave out some important facts: Pearl, MS - the assistant principal was a member of the Army reserve, not a just a typical concealed-carry permit holder. Appalachian School of Law - the students who intervened were current and former law enforcement officers and the killer was out of ammo. Pennsylvania middle school: the shooter had already left the building and didn't appear intent on further shooting before he was finally subdued. When it comes to mass shootings, a crazy guy with body armor isn't an easy target to take out for untrained citizens who potentially put bystanders at further risk and complicate law enforcement response. Sadly, even the FSPD unintentionally killed an innocent bystander while trying to shoot a fleeing suspect a few years ago. These arguments also disregard times armed citizens themselves became victims such as the courthouse shooting in 2005 at Tyler, Texas. When it comes to random crime, pulling out a gun during a robbery escalates the chance of actually getting shot by the perpetrator. If your property is worth it, so be it, but you are putting others in danger by going Wild West in the parking lot. The sense of security is nice, but likely mostly an illusion.

mostly an illusion

The real illusion is that "everyman for himself" will protect moreso than "being your brothers keeper". Until we face the honest truth about mentally ill fellow citizens and how the sane members of society need to accept the responsibility for protecting the mentally ill from themselves and from everyone else, nothing will change accept perhaps there will be more guns cocked, loaded and misfired.

Not Sure?

It is amazing to me anyone would prefer to be killed, or have their loved ones killed, because they are afraid of firearms. NRA, and common sense, says it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. The chance of being in a situation such as a school killing is rare, agreed, but if those who have been involved could be asked, my money is on them being in favor of being armed, or having the teacher or administrator armed. Firearms are not magically going to disappear, at a minimum, allow the good guys to be able to defend themselves. Bad guys will have guns, laws be damned.

Who's the Good Guys

So exactly who are the "good guys?" They are not going around wearing white hats. Many of the mass shooters, prior to their rampage, would have been considered "good guys." Most qualified for gun ownership and legally owned their guns. The problem is that we cannot accurately determine a "good guy" from a "bad guy." It is time to limit ownership of certain guns (assault weapons such as AK47s and Bushmasters) and to limit ownership of high capacity magazine clips. The right to bear arms is not the same as the right to bear any type of arm manufactured. No sane person would claim it is their 2nd amendment right to own a nuclear bomb or an inter-continental missile. A handgun and hunting rifles are sufficient for the average citizen.

Nuclear weapons?

A common theme of those arguing for tighter gun restrictions is to frequently use the nuclear weapon or heavy artillery analogy to advance their point. They are missing the point or just intentionally deflecting the real facts. The authors of our Constitution were very clear on the intent of the Second Amendment (notice that it is second amendment only to freedom of speech and religion). Reading the written comments of the authors made it very clear it wasn't about duck hunting. Those that are willing to trade liberty for safety will end up with neither...

Who's the good guys?

Surely you mean "who are the good guys?" Your misguided good intentions and intellectual inabilities make it a foregone conclusion that you likely will not comprehend my rebuttal. I will however attempt to address your statement and keep it simple. Adam Lanza can in no way be construed as a "good guy" his own mother warned a baby sitter who was at a minimum twice his age that he should "never turn his back on him, not even for a minute..." that he was "dangerous." How do you get "good guy" out of that? The Columbine killers had a history of bad and antisocial behavior, I believe you liberals call that just being "different" you know, what is right for the rest of us just isn't for them.The 2nd Amendment is our Constitutional RIGHT and it IS about so called "ASSAULT" weapons. It has nothing to do with hunting. Your willingness to limit what I own and what I may do are sickening and appalling. You would place your life in the hands of the government? Good luck with that! I have some experience in dealing with our local law enforcement in a case where I very nearly had to defend myself against multiple perpetrators and they did less than nothing when this incident was reported to them and actually took over an hour to respond to my call. If that is what you choose good on you! Hope you meet nice criminals! I think I am more than qualified to care for me and mine and thankfully at this point I will not have to defer to your self doubts and sanctimonious crap.

You should probably clarify

You should probably clarify this statement: "Your willingness to limit what I own and what I may do are sickening and appalling." My guess is that only applies to you and your guns. I would bet money you are more than happy to limit a person's ability to marry someone of the same sex and a woman's right to have control over her reproduction. If not, then kudos to you. And, before you say that's not the point. It is very much the point. People often shout about how they don't want the government interfering in their lives and regulating what they can and can't do - guns are a prime example. But, then in the next breath shout about how gay marriage should be outlawed and the government should regulate a woman's control over her body.

Dr. Locke would disagree

Mr. Hill, I respect your opinion and your freedom to share it here. However, I knew Dr. John Locke and using him as an example is problematic to me. Dr. Locke taught philosophy and I took 15 hours of classes from him at the University of Arkansas in which he led students to contemplate Buddhist philosophy. He was anti-violent and would not have wanted or used a gun with which to defend himself. The circumstances of his murder and the murderer's suicide were very sad indeed. Kelly, the student, had been dismissed from the university for his inability to progress in a post-graduate program. He was mentally ill and either untreated or insufficiently treated. After working with him, understanding his difficulties, his professors had decided to dismiss him from study. Kelly, upset and unstable, came to the building and Dr. Locke let him into his office to speak with him. I am sure it was his compassion that led him to be Kelly's victim and that made me very sad, but not surprised. Dr. Locke was a fine and gentle man and would not have avoided an attempt to communicate with Kelly even if he knew it was dangerous. What might have prevented this murder/suicide would have been door security. Kelly would not have had the credentials to enter the Communications Center, now called Kimpel, as he had been dismissed from the university. Perhaps a trained, armed security officer at the door would have been pressed into duty at that entrance and perhaps violence would have occurred there. We can't know that now. But Dr. Locke would not have owned nor kept a firearm in his small academic office and without security at the building entrance, few people would have even known that Kelly was in the office. If anyone would have been able to talk Kelly out of his violent rage, it would have been the gentle, intelligent and compassionate Locke. Kelly was obviously capable of suicide. I think security keeping him out of university buildings might have prevented Dr. Locke's murder. I could be in favor of armed, official security officers on campus and security at all entrances but not so much in favor of concealed carry permit holders bringing guns to campus. I would favor professional, armed security officers and entry by identification ahead of concealed carry permit-holding citizens on campus. As a citizen I am also willing to bear more cost in providing mental health treatment, which might also have averted this tragedy. With respect - a former student of Dr. John Locke

Dr Locke's Glock

Based on everythng I've heard, I wish I had been able to take a class with Dr. Locke. But I think your claims about Dr. Locke are problematic, at best. Dr. Locke most certainly owned guns, a rifle and a pistol. The pistol was a .45 caliber Glock and he kept it right next to his bed, a classic place to keep a handgun intended to be used for self-defense. Dr. Locke's guns were reported by a Northwest Arkansas newspaper and also in this Chronicle of Higher Education story, "The Murder of a Professor." If you can't read the whole article, any public college or university computer or library should get you access. Dr. Locke was peaceful, but he also studied martial arts, held a black belt, and actually taught martial arts to others. There is nothing contradictory at all between being peaceful, and wishing to defend youself. There is nothing contradictory at all between holding to Buddist precepts and being willing to defending yourself or others. See the Shaolin Monks, or the tens of millions of Buddist practioners and masters of the various martial arts systems out there.
Based on everythng I've heard, I wish I had been able to take a class with Dr. Locke. But I think your claims about Dr. Locke are problematic, at best. Dr. Locke most certainly owned guns, a rifle and a pistol. The pistol was a .45 caliber Glock and he kept it right next to his bed, a classic place to keep a handgun intended to be used for self-defense. Dr. Locke's guns were reported by a Northwest Arkansas newspaper and also in this Chronicle of Higher Education story, "The Murder of a Professor." If you can't read the whole article, any public college or university computer or library ...>> Read the entire comment.

Thank you, but...

I stand corrected on his gun ownership, then. However, I would still prefer a system of security provided by qualified officers on a university campus. I do not wish to jump directly to the expectation that random citizens provide armed security. That seems to be jumping over a prudent, thorough method directly to an expectation that each person at a University be prepared to carry their own weapon. If we are to posit that armed security is necessary on a campus, let it be professional and part of our public expense to keep the peace and safety. Maintain a professional standard. Are some buildings to be insecure because no citizen inside decides to obtain a weapon and concealed carry permit? If armed security is necessary, let it be planned and applied systemically.

Systemically the Almighty NRA Dollar

The whole system would need to be changed. NRA won't let that happen. The gun manufacturers won't let it happen. It is more about money and power than it is about public safety.

FYI: Militia,Individual,States Rights To Bear Arms Good V. Bad. If an individual is in imminent harm,he/she has the right to defend with a firearm. Who would be the offender where a gun is needed to neutralize the situation? Would the threat need to be real or simply perceived by the offended party? I don't think the Second Ammendment addresses the gray area enough to have the final say-so.

I agree with everything you

I agree with everything you say, but the anti gun owners are liberals Who manufacture their own facts, and reality and/or common sense apparently have nothing to do with their "reasoning".


Conservative Fact Finder SCOTUS ruled that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation. If we as a community or a nation are going to go forward with improving this great nation, then we must refrain from persuasion based upon labeling as premises for argument. Liberal/Conservative, TeaParty/GreenParty, etc. The reality here is the Supreme Court decision regarding regulation as in "well regulated" Militia, among other things. If common sense(aka collective self-deception) prevailed, then whose common sense would make sense. It appears non-sense prevails without higher authority.