Arizona's guns on campus bill ignores what actually happens in shootings

·3 min read
While the Arizona State Senate sells their idea of enhanced safety by allowing persons with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun on a college campus, they're oversimplifying the reality of possessing a CCW permit.
While the Arizona State Senate sells their idea of enhanced safety by allowing persons with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun on a college campus, they're oversimplifying the reality of possessing a CCW permit.

What’s missing from the emotional and public discussion about allowing students to arm themselves on college campuses is what actually happens in a shooting. Bullets can and do go everywhere.

On average, police officers hit their target half of the time or less.

In a Mesa officer-involved shooting I investigated in the late 1980s, two officers fired at a stationary target. The man was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed more than 200 pounds. He’d thrown a knife in the general direction of one officer 20 feet away. The other officer was in the opposite direction 25 feet away.

The officers fired 17 rounds. One hit the subject, while the rest ranged vertically from one inch off of the ground to 6 feet, 1 inch high and horizontally over 12 feet. I can only imagine where the 16 rounds could’ve gone if the shooting happened on a college campus or in a congested neighborhood?

Police shootings, Shannon's Law highlight the risk

In a Tolleson officer-involved shooting I investigated in the 1990s, the bullet traveled through the armed robbery suspect, through an outside stucco wall and into a person’s bedroom where it lodged in the wall.

One need only look at the recent shooting in Los Angeles. An officer fired three rounds, hit the suspect who was attacking shoppers twice while the third round went through a wall and killed a 14-year-old girl.

The 9 mm round most police carry is designed to penetrate up to 18 inches, go through glass, wallboard and even metal and still being able to incapacitate a subject. Bullets can travel hundreds of yards before falling to the ground.

And bullets falling to the ground are responsible for countless injuries and even deaths. One only need read about Shannon’s Law and what happens to innocent citizens when bullets are fired and don’t hit a specific target.

A CCW permit doesn't come with training

While the Arizona State Senate sells their idea of enhanced safety by allowing persons with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun on a college campus, they’re oversimplifying the reality of possessing a CCW permit.

In Arizona, a CCW permit requires not much more than paying the fee and filing the application. There is no requirement to demonstrate any kind proficiency with a firearm. Having been in the military, and possibly having qualified with a rifle, isn’t a qualifier to carry pistol.

Then there’s the issue of a person with a gun, who has the best of intentions, who is thought to be a threat by another armed citizen or the police.

While working undercover I was in three situations where police thought I was a criminal suspect. The situations were tense as I was in the sights of a police officer’s handgun and shotgun. Had I responded in the wrong manner there’s no doubt I would’ve been shot.

At the end of the day, carrying a gun is no guarantee of safety. Using a gun carries a heavy price. I pity the person who makes a bad decision in the use of deadly force. It’s not to be taken lightly, especially when the slightest possibility exists that an innocent person may fall due to a bad decision.

Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective. Email him at bill.richardson1@mac.com.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Guns on campus bill ignores what actually happens in shootings