The Arizona Desert Lamp

In a shocking twist, UA does not turn into a bloody shooting gallery.

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 30 September 2009

Today marks the end to several restrictions on the right to bear arms in this state (Ben Kalafut has the full roundup), and naturally the administration went into full psycho-freakout mode. Shelton and the Board of Regents joined in with the Faculty Senate hand-wringing, citing “grave concerns about safety” with regards to the new provision allowing guns-in-glove-compartments-in-locked-cars. The ASUA Senate also approved its gun resolution today (more on that in the full Senate report).

This site is eager to hear observations of strange behavior in response to the legislation’s implementation, but so far all of the “concern” seems concocted from thin air, an expression of hypotheticals a la Robert Ludlum’s juvenilia, rather than any serious look at how things actually happen. If we’re in the middle of a game of Jump to Conclusions, one could readily point out that there has been an inverse relation between gun restrictions and gun deaths on campus, a trend depicted in an Yglesian ridiculous-comparison-that-kinda-makes-a-point graph. One could conduct a similar graph for “guns on campus banned” and “guns on campus allowed.”

Gun Deaths GraphInstead, campus seemed to operate more or less the way it does on any given Wednesday. Teachers did not seem particularly oppressed or reluctant to teach on controversial issues; students were not any more reticent to share their opinions on class material; and employees went about their business as they usually do, braving the adverse conditions to perform their duties.

Off-campus, students were also exposed to the prospect of guns in bars. The Wildcat article on the matter opens with this lede, which sums up the issue perfectly:

UA area bartenders aren’t too concerned about a new Arizona law that goes into effect today allowing guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol — but they are asking, “What’s the point?”

“What’s your point, Walter?” Here’s my point, Dude – when it comes to an issue with minimal impact, an issue where there seems to be no point, the state must err on the side on the side of liberty. The article describes the provision allowing bar-owners to post signs prohibiting guns as a “loophole,” but it is far more important than that. Requiring  bar owners to admit those bearing arms legally, regardless of their own preferences, poses an undue burden when it comes to admitting patrons. Yet it is an equally undue burden to forbid gun-bearers to enter their premises. This bill allows for owners to make a choice, a point that Buffet bartender Bill Cleveland makes perfectly:

Bill Cleveland, a bartender at The Buffet Bar, said bars should be allowed to set their own policies in general — whether relating to guns, smoking or other behaviors.

“I know alcohol and guns don’t mix … I’m more pissed about smoking regulations,” he said. “This is like our home. We should set the rules.”

Cleveland called the new guns-in-bars law “the most redneck thing I’ve ever heard of,” saying he’d been shot at more than once during his 12-year career as a bouncer and bartender.

Ignoring the irony of the Buffet describing something else as “redneck,” it should be emphasized that Mr. Cleveland’s shooting incident was almost certainly illegal under any regime. Mad props go out for bringing back the issue of Arizona’s stupidly draconian smoking ban. The Lamp, naturally, endorses the Buffet as one of the finer drinking establishments in the UA area.  I suspect that most bar owners will post such signs, although a post-bill survey of establishments might reveal some interesting numbers. Yet some will choose to admit, and even cater, to such arm-bearers – and more power to them for doing so.

Under this new regime, consumers are similarly free to choose. Those who are disturbed by the possibility of drinking next to someone with a concealed weapon are free to go to a different bar, as well to tell the owner why they are leaving in an attempt to change the policy. Those who want to bear arms in bars will express their dissatisfaction with bars that ban guns, and will give their business to those bars that allow for them.

Finally, it is curious to compare the vociferous chorus against restrictions on chalking versus the general support of restrictions banning guns in cars in glove compartments, etc., even as the substantive merits are the same. It is no more rational to fear that guns locked in compartments that are locked in cars will lead to increased hazard than it is to fear that chalking on campus will lead to wanton vandalism and aesthetic destruction. Both actions are legal according to Arizona law. Both changes in policy reflect small shifts towards protecting civil liberties that are enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution (the first two amendments) as well as the Arizona state constitution (Art. 2: secs. 6, 26).

UPDATE: Credit goes out to Wildcat columnist Remy Albillar, who makes many of these same points in his column today.

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One Response

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  1. Ben Kalafut said, on 30 September 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I think you linked the wrong GWS post. The firearms law roundup is at
    http://goldwaterstate.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-firearms-laws-go-into-effect-on-30.html


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