UGA professor: Violence at Trump rallies shows dangers of ‘good guys’ with guns on campus

In the wake of Texas’ new law allowing guns on campus, here is advice being given to professors there.

With students and faculty waiting to see if Gov. Nathan Deal will veto the legalization of guns on public college campuses, University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky explains why campus carry is a bad idea.

He raises an issue brought up by female lawmakers during the debate over House Bill 859 — the risks to young women from armed men on campus. (The argument from women legislators that legalizing guns would increase violence against women was ignored.)

Smagorinsky also cites the violence at Trump rallies as evidence we are now living in incendiary times that heighten the threat level from guns on campus.

By Peter Smagorinsky

“He deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization,” John McGraw, who suckerpunched a protester being escorted from a Donald Trump rally.

His hardball tactics, Erik Erickson said, have spurred death threats from fervent Trump backers. He’s got full-time bodyguards outside his Middle Georgia home. AJC news story

Welcome to the context in which Georgia lawmakers are considering the adoption of “open carry” laws that allow one and all to be armed at our institutions of higher learning. The pros and cons of this legislation have been well-aired by this point, typically along ideological lines, and I won’t review them all here.

Rather, I’ll look at the environment in which this law is being considered, and ask if it will increase or decrease campus safety, which is the issue at stake. The assumption behind the pro-open-carry law is that bad guys with guns will avoid places loaded with good guys with guns. The assumption behind this assumption is that the good guys are easy to distinguish from the bad guys.

About that, I’m not so sure.

House Bill 859’s purpose is to reduce crime on campus, a problem that may or may not exist. Gun advocates claim that open carry laws reduce crime, but critics question the manipulation of statistics to support that contention. So there may or may not be a problem, and this solution may or may not work.

Let’s visit the University of Houston, where the caution leading off this essay has been developed as part of a set of guidelines for professors in their new open-carry environment. The message: Play it safe, lest a student murder you.

Over in Austin, Professor Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas said he feared “a disgruntled student with a gun would ‘lose it,’ pull out the gun and shoot the instructor. With 500 students in my [economics] class, this did not seem impossible.” He is among several who has already resigned or declined job offers due to concerns that, rather than becoming safer, campuses would become dangerous, as the sword becomes mightier than the pen.

Protesters rally against the campus carry bill at the University of Georgia arch. Demonstrators urged Gov. Deal to veto HB 859, which would allow guns on campus including the child care center. TAYLOR CARPENTER / TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.COM

Protesters rally against the campus carry bill at the University of Georgia arch. Demonstrators urged Gov. Deal to veto HB 859, which would allow guns on campus including the child care center. TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.COM

Now, personally, I don’t fear being murdered by my students. Over my 26 years in higher education, I’ve had some who didn’t like me, many whose politics departed from my own, and a few who were definitely unbalanced. But I’ve never feared death going to campus for meetings, classes, and other duties.

I’m also a 6’-5”, 230 pound man who works out. Most people looking for trouble find someone smaller to mess with.

Personally, I’ve spent little time around guns. My dad was a weather forecaster whose mind was in the clouds, not the streets. My mom was a statistician for the Weather Bureau who raised five kids to use our words, not our fists, and certainly not our guns, to resolve disputes.

But I’ve lived in Oklahoma and Georgia for nearly three decades and have become comfortable with the idea that guns are part of some families’ lives. I’ve occasionally been comforted to live around a neighbor with a rifle, such as when we had coyotes in my neighborhood in Athens. My pets rested easier, too.

I also have students who are registered gun owners, and should mention that as a literacy educator, I have classes mostly filled with women. Some keep them at home for protection. In a recent discussion about open carry with my undergraduates, several said they have felt threatened on campus and would carry a gun if allowed, while others said they would not.

What came out of the discussion, though, was not that they felt endangered on campus by terrorists, or thieves, or single shooters out for retribution against the world with random violence. No, what scared them into wanting protection is creepy men who stalk them and threaten them with sexual assault. Some carry mace, but sexual predators need a lot of discouragement, and as people of age with proper training, they felt that carrying a gun would keep themselves safe.

Some professors may reasonably fear being shot by their students, and I’m sure they have their reasons. I see a bigger danger in society at large, however, which is the rising feeling of anger among those who support the Trump presidency, to the point where even an arch-conservative like Erik Erickson must hire protection because he opposes Trump’s candidacy.

Trump supporters appear to feel very comfortable explaining that protesters to his rallies are targets for murder; and McGraw’s response has drawn widespread praise from others who share his politics. To many, these are the “good guys” protecting us from “bad guys,” armed or not, who threaten their beliefs. These incidents are not isolated, but have become pervasive at Trump rallies and beyond, celebrated by the candidate himself.

In this environment I am concerned that violence has become a reasonable way to stifle opposing perspectives, with torture emphasized by the candidate himself as an essential means of fighting terror. People who are amped up by a charismatic leader over time have done some dastardly things to exercise their passions. These people scare me a lot more than the sort of terrorists that open-carry advocates believe to be the problem.

If state legislators wish to make campuses safer, I suggest they listen to my students and understand how vulnerable women feel to predatory men. Three-fourths of the Georgia Legislature is made up of men, and women consistently tell me that men have no idea of the daily abuse that they take from men’s hands.

That’s a real problem, not one of speculation. If campus safety is an issue, and if most women feel unsafe — not from terrorists, but from macho men imposing their will on them — then we have a real problem in search of real solutions.

Is open carry the solution? Personally, I’d prefer rigorous training of incoming male students in being respectful toward women and standing up for those who report abuse, providing mace to women as part of their enrollment, expanding security cameras, examining the link between alcohol and violence toward women, and taking other measures. The proposed approach of “open carry” seems to be the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

108 comments
Ernest Dean
Ernest Dean

Seems this so called professor has no clue to facts. To start the law is not just for men to carry. But also women. Then the abuse as he callwd it will stop. Next let's cover the Trump rally violence. Every attack was by a paid democrat protester. Once the law suit started against Clinton did he notice the attacks at the rallies stopped. She was busy covering her own backside and didn't have time to attack Trump. Know fact is Georgia has a city (Kennesaw )where every citizen owns a gun. Least crime in the state. Maybe the professor should educate himself with facts and stop spewing his ideals.

Dan Wieleba
Dan Wieleba

Why is this liberal waste of flesh allowed to "educate" our youth. There are 2 places where liberals absolutely, positively have no place; law making and education. 

redweather
redweather

Now some knucklehead in Minnesota has developed a concealed carry gun that . . . drum roll . . . looks exactly like a cell phone! Just what we needed. Another way for little kids to blow their own heads off by mistake. Thank you NRA.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Well now little lady, if you're skeered, just go see Professor Smaggy.  He's a 6'-5" and 230 pounds of worked out, throbbing love muskle.  He'll protect you.   ROFLMAO


Interesting that the only people I've seen on camera getting in the face of professors have been from the spoiled brats of the BLM movement, which, coincidentally, are the same ones who are promoting anarchy by trying to limit the freedom of speech of Trump supporters.  As Becky Covington's post illustrates below, the anti-Trump forces have openly advocated violence against Trump supporters.


Personally, I'm much more wary of those who try to limit my 1st Amendment Rights by trying to intimidate me through violence to not support the presidential candidate of my choice.  This type of anarchy soon becomes tyranny in government, which is why the wise Founding Fathers gave us the 2nd Amendment.

Marc Chessler
Marc Chessler

Only danger is to violent left wing extremists and violent BLM-Paid protetsors...thats all

Starr Helton
Starr Helton

Yes, that does really make you sound like a responsible gun owner.

Marc Chessler
Marc Chessler

Starr Helton it's called irony. Responsible owners are the last to draw in most situations and generally avoid confrontation

Starr Helton
Starr Helton

Perhaps a poor attempt at irony. Maybe you should label it as such. No, I have responsible gun owners in my family and the have more respect for the weapon than to make thinly veiled threats and then call it irony. I will agree with your last statement.

Becky Covington
Becky Covington

3 fascist protesters arrested after pulling gun on Trump supporter http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/31419153/update-3-arrested-for-pulling-gun-on-donald-trump-supporter Twitter threats to kill Trump https://mobile.twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=assasinate+trump&src=typd Chris Brown Anti Trump Video ‘F–k Trump and F–k the Pigs’: Makes threats telling Donald Trump Protesters to Travel in Groups. http://www.policeone.com/Crowd-Control/articles/160499006-Video-Chris-Brown-tells-Instagram-followers-F-the-pigs http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2016/03/13/chris-brown-urges-trump-protesters-to-travel-in-groups-f-k-trump-and-f-k-the-pigs/ BLM shoot guns after shutting down Trump appearance. https://youtu.be/yIBqDpV5kyE Another Democrat inciting violence... http://nypost.com/2015/12/13/aclu-leader-resigns-after-threatening-to-shoot-trump-supporters/ Latino protester warns trump voters of repercussions "If these people get what they want, Trump in there, I guarantee you — you think the Mexicans are going to lay down that easily? We don’t ever say nothing,” Ronald Gonzales, of Dallas, said. http://girlsjustwannahaveguns.com/mexican-protester-warns-white-voters-of-repercussions-if-trump-is-elected-we-own-texas-watch/ Protester at Trump rally is convicted bomber http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/11/19/arrested-trump-rally-protester-is-convicted-bomber-of-marine-recruitment-center/ Knife wielding Muslim threatens Trump and his family. http://www.alipac.us/f9/video-knife-brandishing-muslim-threatens-donald-trump-326112/ Rick Ross calls for Trump Assassination. http://www.dailywire.com/news/1790/hip-hop-hypocrisy-rick-ross-calls-donald-trumps-amanda-prestigiacomo?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=120415-news&utm_campaign=benshapiro Muslim protester is anti-Israel radical. Http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/09/islamic-protester-booted-from-trump-rally-is-anti-israel-radical/ Old but typical. Democrat death threats. ▫To kill Romney http://t.co/K2uMv5OHQv ▫To kill Bush http://t.co/pjZuYGQMLn

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Great post.  Too bad the irony will be lost on Prof Smag.

Mike Cap
Mike Cap

UGA professor is a step up from community college

John Fair
John Fair

The violence at Trump rallies shows how viscous the fascist are in going after opposing views... The violence is from the left... They are Brownshirts

MoreySims
MoreySims

there are way too many guns around here--i'm tired of this. when hillary gets in office she needs to appoint some hard left win supreme court justices who can change the outdated second amendment and cut out a lot of these guns!

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaxMose Yes, there are a lot of guns around in public.  You know what else there are too many of in public?  Convicted criminals.  One of the bombers in the Brussels bombing was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2010 - but yet he is out and killing people.  We constantly see people convicted of murder when they have been arrested 10 - 20 times before and are now out on parole.  People behind bars seldom commit murder.  Who else is out there on the street - crazies - people who should be locked up in a mental institution, but are not - because PC says you should not institutionalize them.  Just turn them out.

ChipK
ChipK

@MaxMose ".... she needs to appoint some hard left win supreme court justices who can change the outdated second amendment and cut out a lot of these guns"


Says the man using his equally outdated first Amendment rights.

Dwayne McMillen
Dwayne McMillen

Where were all these people in 60s....you haven't seen anything like that.

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

I have yet to figure out by what mechanism fraternity members who have concealed carry permits can monitored to remove their guns in those places where the guns are not allowed, like frat houses.  


Will each frat house soon be outfitted with a meal detector at each door, a guard to match and a sign saying "Check your guns at the door?'  I'm not an honor system will cut the mustard.


Is the bill as written enforceable?

redweather
redweather

@Carlos_Castillo I've asked the same question, as have others. It seems like CC permit holders who live in a dorm or frat house would have to find a place to park their weapon.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Carlos_Castillo Are the current laws against guns on campus totally enforced?  Do they currently have metal detectors at the front door?  Students who want to be good citizens and comply with the law will leave them in their car or not carry them.  The ones who live off-campus have a lot more leeway.

Duel Mitchell
Duel Mitchell

and these idiots are supposed to be teaching the young people is your tuition money being wasted.

David Tanner
David Tanner

people don't kill people GUNS KILL PEOPLE,most gun toters are cowards, take away their guns no more killing

Stewart Dobson
Stewart Dobson

Might want to tell that to the folks in Chicago and Detroit. Some of the strongest gun laws in the nation.

Starr Helton
Starr Helton

Also with a steady stream of guns moving from the South into both of those cities.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Critical GA thinker So 29 "mass shootings" defined as more than three people killed or injured in 8 years - about 3.5 per year.  Last year alone there were more than 355 "mass shootings" defined as FOUR or more people killed or injured.  So maybe 2800 in the last 8 years?  So the CC people account for around 1% (or less if you use identical criteria) of the "mass shootings"?  I STILL would worry more about the other 99% than about the 1%.

LoxNotGlocks
LoxNotGlocks

@class80olddog @Critical GA thinker If you want to understand what “29 mass shootings” means, you need correct context. There is no exhaustive list of incidents which matches the Violence Policy Center’s description, which is 3+ victims killed (not “three people killed or injured”). But there is a very complete sample from USA Today of all “mass murder” shootings per the older FBI definition (4+ victims killed). Looking at all mass murder shooting perpetrators from 2006-2014 who were old enough to have a concealed carry permit, there were 192 total, with 17 names matching the VPC list for carry permits. Two of those VPC names are false positives (Omar Thornton and Guillermo Zarabozo) leaving 15 known mass murderers with carry permits. 


There should no more than 6 mass murderers with carry permits, not 15, if permittees were equally at risk to commit these acts. But as it stands, people with carry permits were 2.4 times as likely to commit mass murder shootings over those 9 years, in proportion to their numbers. That result is somewhat diluted by the fact that several non-carrier mass killings had multiple perpetrators, but to be fair I’m including all people charged with murder within these incidents. There’s the context: Licensed concealed carriers were 2.4 times more likely to commit a mass murder shooting than non-license holders, 2006-2014.

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

No democrat should have a gun they are nuts

class80olddog
class80olddog

By the way, there were 16 people killed on college campuses in 2015 - 9 of them in Oregon.  Not one of the perpetrators stopped because of the "gun-free" zone signs.

MoFaux
MoFaux

@class80olddog The same can be said of every other criminal who violated ANY law.  That's kind of how it works you know?  A criminal decides to do something illegal and doesn't care that it's illegal.  We can't have anarchy.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MoFaux @class80olddog Not sure what you point is. My point is that those who violate the law are the 99% and those who would be subject to the new legalized carry are the 1%.  Plus it would give the people who carry legally the means to protect themselves from murder or rape.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

My first paragraph, as stated below, had already been modified to read as follows on Jim Galloway's blog, immediately after I had originally posted on this thread.  I wish to edit my first paragraph, below, to read as I had written it, with more precision, on Galloway's blog:


"I would like to point out that this state, and the South in general, have bred sexist men as part of its hierarchical mindset of its past paternalism. Our nation is not much better in terms of eliminating sexism, as evidenced by the number of men and women who have chosen to vote for Donald Trump in the Republican primaries. . . ."

class80olddog
class80olddog

Since 2007, there have been approximately 111 homicides by CC permit holders.  In that time, there were approximately 96,000 gun homicides.  By my math, that equates to CC holders being about 0.11% of all homicides, while the other 99.89% are committed by others.  And you are afraid of THESE people?  I think I would be more afraid of the 99.89%.

Keith Pflepsen
Keith Pflepsen

All of the eyewitness account confirm all the violence is instigated by protesters.

Starr Helton
Starr Helton

Many of these episodes have been seen on television. If you want to vote for Mr Trump do so but don't try to pretend that you don't know exactly what he is.

class80olddog
class80olddog

So, how many shootings have there been at Trump rallies?  How many involved people with concealed carry permits? Just because there is anger (in any situation) does NOT mean it will escalate to shooting someone.  It is not like it is robbing the pizza delivery guy.  Also, most sexual assaults on campus(I will not use the word rape to describe them) are carried out using alcohol as the primary weapon.  We are not talking about rapists pointing a weapon at a woman and dragging them off into the bushes.  Indeed, in a lot of these sexual assaults, BOTH parties are inebriated, so technically BOTH of them are raping each other! (of course, you very rarely see a woman accused of rape for having sex with a man who is too inebriated to give consent)

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

So glad that the final bill on "campus carry" was amended to provide that Tasers and stun guns be the weapons that can be carried on campus. As a retired professor, I have always felt precisely as Professor Hamermesh did at U.Texas-Austin...and notice that it wasn't simply rhetoric for him. He found another job in another state.

bu22
bu22

@OriginalProf He wasn't there in Austin in 1965:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman  Armed civilians, along with the police, probably kept him from shooting more than the 46 he did hit.  Wiki article has a long description of the shooting spree after it goes through his early life.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Campuses are all " Safe gun free zones " already so no one would dare bring a firearm on Campus anyway right ?  

Mitch Bosworth
Mitch Bosworth

...and clearly demonstrates the need for students to be able to defend themselves.

Gail Beaman
Gail Beaman

If the GOP are sure guns keep everything safe why are their no guns allowed in the Capital or at the upcoming convention?

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Such a brilliant strategy.   Go to "Trump Rallies", and protest violently.  Then decry the violence that you've actually been the one to perpetrate.


And then the "media" reports it as a "Trump Supporter" issue.


Wow, the world must have been fun for the media, before social media enabled folks to call BS on their lies.  So fun now for us "common folks" who can point out what a crock this is - and help others see through the lies.,


Must suxk to watch that paid subscriber base shrink, year after year.  And continue to lose influence as you slide into irrelevance, as your potential client base realizes how biased you are against what they care about.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Critical GA thinker @dcdcdc Coming up with ideas and policies that work.  Deliver results.  Not "sound good", but in real life end up as disasters.