Oikos: Terrible Example of “Gun-Free” Limits

The shooting at Oikos University in Oakland is a tragic theme that’s unfolded too often recently. A disgruntled student or former student shoots several classmates. My generation has seen far too much of this: we were only middle-schoolers when Harris and Klebold massacred classmates and teachers at Columbine.

Oikos, like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and other incidents of classroom violence, will prompt soul-searching. We’ll seek any rationale to explain such violence. We’ll find warning signs, but not the “smoking gun” — an expression that seems particularly awful in this context. We’ll generalize: media violence; ineffectual parenting; and mental illness will, once again, bear the blame. Token changes will be made around rules for the mentally ill to access firearms, and the carnage will drift from our memories. This is predictable, sad and useless. Innocent lives were lost at Oikos on Monday. However, we must accept that laws the people we voted for wrote are a large part of why these students lost their lives.

It is not merely a tragic coincidence that innocent, defenseless people were lined up against a wall and shot to death, or that this scene has happened numerous times at schools around the world. These students were rendered defenseless not by chance, but by law: a so-called “gun-free zone”.

The idea of GFZs is that they keep the public safe; the concept is flawed from the outset. Security systems suffer a flaw known as “defender’s dilemma”: a successful security mechanism must repel all attackers, but a lone attacker can cause great loss. The students at Columbine, VT, and now Oikos, know defender’s dilemma more personally than anyone should.

In many cases, law enforcement does a commendable job. Police responded to Oikos in three minutes; and Virginia Tech in six, due to a barricaded door. At Virginia Tech, every twelve seconds police were unable to enter that building cost someone his/her life. Try as we may to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill, we will sometimes fail. In an environment with numerous, disarmed targets, lives may be lost nearly every time we do. Such bloodletting is no more acceptable as an annual or once-a-decade event; students dying by violence in their place of learning is anathema to a civilized society.

Any enterprise that perpetrated the injustice we have on these students would be financially destroyed, its executives hauled before juries. It is only ignorance and denial that prevent us from demanding similar treatment of our lawmakers. It is the height of malarkey that we insist on disarming trained, permitted citizens in precisely the environment where that equalizer is needed most. One armed student or faculty member at Virginia Tech could’ve disrupted Seung-Hui Cho’s slaughter, or possibly averted it altogether. An armed target base turns defender’s dilemma on its head, forcing the next Cho, Harris or Klebold to consider that his target may kill him. If I had a potential killer at my institution, I’d want that thought in his/her mind. Wouldn’t you?


About Matt Murphy

I'm a software engineer with a certain company you've probably heard of. In my free time, I'm an advocate for individual liberty and free markets.
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2 Responses to Oikos: Terrible Example of “Gun-Free” Limits

  1. Steve says:

    I agree with you, school administrators should carry firearms, as well as competent students. School shootings are a prime example of why there should not be gun free laws. Many of the mental health laws never take in to account that the people themselves could be normal health individuals one day and snap the next. This man snapped and killed innocent people, he decided to murder people, know we will have committees and law enforcement trying to find ways to classify these hopeless victims of bullying from other students and the school itself.
    This man should have sued for his money, and the damages suffered. It sad that people often have no other way of reason than to kill others. It’s also disgusting that people prey upon the desperate individuals who have lost everything in the crash. Schools like oikos should be sued into non-existence, not have people on the campus murdered. Either way this school is still going to be in operation tomorrow and do more harm.
    I am in the same boat as One, I lost my lucrative career in the crash, I am in major debt, I have borrowed many from my elder grandparents to cover school at DeVry University (a private institute) and I have lost ground before with administrators. But I will never carry a gun in and kill innocent people over any dispute even if I lost all the money.

    What are your thoughts on this?

  2. valleyc4t says:

    I can’t comment on the value proposition of Oikos or schools like it, because I know little about the quality or relevance of the education the school provides. I don’t believe that any wrong done justifies the murder of an innocent person; financial wrongs are no exception.

    One of the other problems of mental health screening is that it’s a simple tradeoff. If you bar anyone who’s ever sought counseling from owning a gun, you might have a better chance of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. However, you’ll also stigmatize people who seek counseling and discourage them from doing so out of fear that they’ll jeopardize future opportunities that may depend on their ability to own a weapon (e.g., law enforcement careers).

    We definitely should have mental health screening as part of the firearms ownership process, in my opinion. However, we have to accept that we’ll sometimes fail to detect illness; the most dangerous sociopaths will also be the most adept at hiding their illnesses, because they won’t be making the efforts to seek help. When the system does fail, people need to be able to defend themselves.

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