Iversen: Maybe arming Elis is not the best solution

I was alarmed by Andrew P. Clark’s column on the subject of allowing students to carry concealed weapons (“Elis safer when armed,” 9/19) — not alarmed that students might be carrying guns, but rather that the column could pass for rigorous thought.

As a graduate student myself, I understand the strenuous demands on one’s time, but writing this piece, I truly had to be certain and spent almost 40 grueling minutes obtaining historical data on Connecticut’s crime rates from the Department of Justice’s Web site. Perhaps there is something superfluous about using data to check the validity of the completely hypothetical statement, “If the criminal element knew that some minority of students were trained and armed, the spillover benefit to the University would be immense.”

But, as criminals often act despite the presence of police, armed guards or even armed rivals, one might begin to suspect that the introduction of a concealed-carry policy might have a muted effect on crime rates. Clark didn’t seem to know — or perhaps didn’t care — that this state’s shall-issue concealed-carry policy has been in effect since 1969. Surely, we should expect to see a huge drop in state-level crime rates when criminals were suddenly faced with possibly armed victims, no?

No. Not at all.

From 1970 until 1981 the robbery rate in Connecticut more than tripled. It declined for five years, rebounded to the same level by 1990 and then precipitously dropped off. The murder and manslaughter rate doubled from 1970 to 1990, and then dived. Burglaries peaked in 1981, declined and then really started to fall after 1991, reaching a 40-year low in 2006. Almost all rates for all types of crime followed the same pattern. If the concealed-carry law had any effect on crime at all, it took a damn long time to do it. Otherwise, something else must have been the cause of the crime spike.

That fantasy, in fact, totally disregards strategy. Robbers tend not to strike in large superstores filled with bright lights and large crowds or in front of security cameras. Any entry-level criminal who has played Grand Theft Auto knows that it is much easier to attack isolated individuals or small groups at night. Muggers, or at least the successful ones, don’t usually walk facing their victims while flashing a piece from a block away. They attack from behind, from the side or in groups large enough to overwhelm. They’re smart enough to not produce a weapon until they are in close range and the victim has no time to react. Clark seems to think that a robber might be scared of his concealed gun, but I invite him to explain how to unholster, unlock, cock and aim when a thief already has a knife pressed against your belly or a pistol pointed at your heart. The only way for armed students to stop potential assailants would be preemptively. Here we encounter a problem.

To be shockingly frank, how many Yale grad students, be they from Clark’s “fly-over” or any liberal enclave, are able to instantly tell who is a young black male robber and who is a young, law-abiding black male? I doubt that the police are afraid of armed students, but everyone should be very afraid of a Yale student accidentally starting what is politely termed an “incident” in a city full of decades-long racial tensions.

To speak of other uncomfortable things, the horrific Virginia Tech massacre had nothing to do with robbery, but everything to do with insanity. I won’t disagree that sane armed students might have stopped a psychotic armed student and prevented much carnage. But how many students would it have taken? How could any students have reached their hypothetical guns while being fired upon? In too many grim scenarios, innocent people are still killed long before they have time to react. The grim lesson of Virginia Tech is not that armed students will prevent violence; it is that society law enforcement, lawmakers, gun dealers, the bureaucracy and pro-gun organizations collectively failed to keep a semi-automatic Glock 19 and Walther P22, as well about a dozen recently-legalized extended 15-round 9 mm clips, away from a deranged young man.

Clark’s argument lacks what we liberal types call “reason” and “facts.” I challenge him, then, to show some sort of proof for his idea. He might start by looking at recent history, when the states and then the federal government began aggressively passing and tightening gun control laws.

That began, by the way, in about 1990.


  • Robert

    Nice try, Jacob, but if you had truly spent any time at all "researching" the topic of concealed carry in Connecticut, you'd have learned a couple of very pertinent points:
    First and foremost, Conn. is NOT a "shall-issue" state; it is a "may issue" state - issuing a permit is strictly at the discretion of local law enforcement.
    What this means is that the number of actual carry permit holders is a great deal smaller than might be the case if any qualified person could get a permit.

    Second, of course, is that Connecticut is unique in that the carry permit - IF you're lucky or influential enough to get one - is for either open or concealed carry.

    But you wouldn't know this: you were too busy attacking the writer of the original column - that's called "ad hominem" by the way - to approach this topic with an open mind.

  • Mike

    Robert, your comment makes me chuckle.

    Jacob cited statistics and made some excellent points about the ability of honest citizens to use weapons in the case of a robbery; you, on the other hand, have got a straw man argument punctuated with an accusation of "ad hominem" so baseless that it is itself nothing but an ad hominem against the author of this column.

  • larry

    Mike your comment is even more "silly" having worked violent criminals for 5 years in a setting that gave me alot of time to "get to know" them.The one common thread is they are looking for a victim and not an oppenent.The fact is if they even think you are armed the move to an easier target.A gun is part of a system that starts with "you" awareness,is rule number 1. A gun is a tool nothing more,you cant buy a hammer and claim "Im a carpenter." Nor can just the purchase of a firearm make you "safe" knowing how and when to use it is as important as knowing when not to use it.Its obvious that you nor Jacob have truly considered all sides to this issue.

  • Steve
  • Greg

    I was happily directed to this letter by the extremely anti-gun site Gunguys.com, which featured it on their page.

    Mr. Iverson, if you would care to look beyond the scope of your state, and look at other states, or even national statistics, you'd find that, yes, after many states passed CCW laws, crime DID decrease. It's an established fact. Sure, it's quite possible that CCW did not “directly” contribute to the crime rate going down, but at the VERY least, it destroys the "more guns concealed in public = more crime" typical Liberal hyperbole.

    As for robbers not striking areas covered by security cameras…If you really don't believe they do, I have a midnight shift at a convenience store in a shady neighborhood in Milwaukee to hire you for. Robberies of convenience stores, banks, etc, happen every day, camera or no camera. A security camera is no longer a deterrent for someone dedicated to commit a crime.

    How exactly you would use your concealed carry weapon is completely a situational basis, but even more important than your skill with it, should you have to use it, is being aware of your surroundings and environment constantly so that you won't get into “hopeless” situations like you described in the first place. You’d find that the majority of Concealed Carry Permit holders have some of the best senses out there, as we look and identify possible trouble before it happens.

    I'm not going to speculate how many students at VT would of "had the chance" to defend themselves had they had a firearm. I just wish they had a choice to defend themselves or not, a choice they were denied.

    Also, please don't blame the gun, nor the "recently-legalized" magazines (Which are not "extended" from the firearm at all, by the way). To claim that Cho would have never shot up Virginia Tech had he been restricted to 10-round magazines is an assumption with no basis in reality. His medical records should have definitely disqualified him from owning these weapons in the first place, but it shouldn’t affect my ability to purchase these firearms half the country away in North Dakota.

    I am sorry you don’t believe in allowing Concealed Carry Permits to be honored on public college campuses, but the reality is, school shootings happen. I don’t see why I’d be allowed to defend myself in most public areas, but not at my college, where I spend quite a bit of my time.

    Greg Plautz
    University of North Dakota Students For Concealed Carry on Campus

  • RJ

    Hey Greg, the VT Review Board had the same opinion and stated that the previously banned extended mags would have had no effect on the shooting.

  • CCW4ME2

    To better understand the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution it is helpful to consider how almost every reasonable person would interpret this amendment if it did not involve something which is considered controversial or politically incorrect by some and idolized by others. Arms in the possession of ordinary citizens meet both criteria. Let's, for the sake of argument, suppose that the Second Amendment dealt with books, not arms or weapons, and read like this: "A well educated electorate, being necessary to the maintenance of a free State, the right of the people to own and read books, shall not be infringed." Does anyone really believe that liberals would claim that only people who were eligible to vote should be allowed to buy and read books? Or that a person should have to have voted in the last election before the government would permit him or her to buy a book? Would the importation of books be banned if they did not meet an "educational purpose" test? Would some States limit citizens to buying "one book a month"? Would inflammatory "assault books" be banned in California?

  • Nathan

    First, if Mr. Iverson spent 40 minutes researching for his editorial, he missed his first point right out of the gate. Connecticut is not a shall-issue state for concealed carry (CCW), it is a may-issue state. Shall-issue states must, by law, issue a concealed carry license unless there is a reason not to issue a license.

    Mr. Iverson might probably did not understand the Connecticut statutes in regard to CCW. Such misunderstandings would be no real surprise for any of us. Most laws are pretty hard for the layperson to understand. Under Connecticut law the only “shall” provision is the issuance is the eligibility certificate. The eligibility certificate only allows the holder to purchase a gun and to transport it between your home and business.

    Just on a reading of the process from the State’s website, very wide latitude is given to the State in its deference in regard to CCW. The only requirement on the State is that if it denies the CCW, it must provide the reason to the applicant. The applicant can appeal.

    Mr. Iversen probably did not read John Lott’s More Guns, Less Death. To be fair I have not read the book either, but I have read the interviews with Lott and excerpts from the book. Lott examination of gun facts was one, if not the first, in depth analysis of guns in society. Studies before Lott’s work lacked in the in-depth analysis that Lott applied. It should be noted that Lott started the study only as teaching exercise for his economics class.

    Since that study other studies have supported Lott’s work. Further, Great Britain often cited as an example of where gun control works, has noticed a doubling in crime since the abolition of guns. Gun crime too has increased despite efforts by Metro to reclassify these crimes. In fact, according to one study by their government the street price of an illegal Glock pistol with 50 rounds of ammunition is only about $800 (in 2005).

    Mr. Iversen seems to doubt the efficacy of CCW combating mass murders. Maybe Mr. Iversen should talk to Suzanne Hupp, whose parents were killed with 21 others at the Luby’s in Killeen, TX. She left her pistol in her car. She does not know if the outcome would have been the same or not, but it certainly would have evened the odds quite a bit. BTW, that incident occurred in 1991.

    Would an armed student have stopped the VT killer? No one can say either way with any real honesty. However, I doubt Cho would have been able to just stroll among the desks deciding who to shoot or not…he would have been an easy target for someone with a CCW. Statistically speaking, if CCW had been allowed on campus, every time Cho encountered a victim he increased his odds of being stopped by someone with CCW. If that had happened early in the spree, VT might be more remember for football instead of a massacre.

    I think Mr. Iversen subscribes to the hoplophobic (word coined by Jeff Cooper) view that the mere presence of a firearm eventually causes one to go insane and commit murder. I am a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). We dress up as cowboys/girls, with aliases, and play cowboy. It’s a hoot. At our national match near Albuquerque, NM there were over 600 shooters at the multi-day competition. At least by hoplophobe standards, someone there should have at the very least should have threatened someone with gun. Only steel targets were hit with the projectiles from our firearms. Not only that, area restaurants encouraged us to show up in our duds and with our pistols (New Mexico is an open carry state)!

    You really do not have to look very far to see how off the mark Mr. Iversen is. Gun shows too should have shootings just by the very presence of so many firearms and ammunition. However, when was the last time there was a shooting at gun show? Maybe Mr. Iversen would be so kind to spend another 40 minutes researching for those incidents.

    Mr. Iversen seems to base his knowledge of criminal behavior from playing the game of “Grand Theft Auto” (GTA). He would do better to read police, justice department, or news reports of real crimes. What the Lott study and others have shown that the presence of an armed victim frequently prevents a crime even if no shots are fired. When this occurs, and no shots are fired, the crime is rarely reported. This should surprise no one. Do you really want to report the incident to the police, which may be a huge hassle by the time the reports are completed?

    If Mr. Iversen had spent some of his 40 minutes of research time at the Nation Rifle Association website and looked for the section called “The Armed Citizen” he would have been able to trace back to the original news reports of armed confrontations with criminals. I really like the one that when the armed crooks were not getting enough valuables and money decided to kidnap the victims’ baby. That was when the victims produced a gun and started shooting at the crooks. You don’t need to be graduate student to know that if the victims had not had a gun, the baby probably would have died.

    Another interesting source are the Justice Department interviews with convicts. One of the more interesting things those interviews reveal is that in states with restrictive gun ownership laws criminals are much more inclined to do home invasions and encounters. In states with very liberal gun ownership, CCW, and usage laws home invasions and encounter are less popular. Burglaries are much more popular due to the lower risk to the criminal.

    I frequently hear this “Mr. Iversen GTA” thought process applied to criminal behavior. That GTA theory holds ff too many potential victims are armed, then the crook merely shoots the victim first. Such thinking is pretty weak and overlooks physics of a robbery. The robber needs you to turn over your valuables so the robber does not have to go through your corpse looking for them. If he shoots first the noise may attract attention. Once you have turned over your valuables then the perp can decide whether he wants you dead or alive.

    Its bad enough if the crook wants only your valuables. However, all to frequently sex or thrill is what they want. If you are weaker than the crook (who has been muscle building in prison) you have got a serious problem. Crooks involved in such crimes do not like to leave witnesses alive. If you are unarmed, you will likely be on the missing person report on cable news channels for days while they speculate whether you ran off or in the bottom of a gully somewhere. So I find it difficult to understand why hoplophobes want to condemn the weakest of our society to a horrible death.

    Finally, I do resent Mr. Iversen insertion of race into the discussion. I would like him to explain his reasons why he associates race with this subject since I see no linkage.

  • Melancton Smith

    First, regarding VT. The problem at VT was more a problem of doctrine than disarmament. I read accounts where people described hiding behind a desk while listening to Cho methodically shoot people, reload, and shoot more while waiting for their turn to die. I wonder how many students were in those classrooms? 20? 30? You wouldn't need a gun with those odds.

    Second, Cho fired an estimated 170 rounds and had 17 magazines. You do the math.

    Personally, I don't care much whether crime rates go down under shall-issue CCW. IF one finds oneself a victim, does it matter that there was a 3% chance or a 5% chance? What matters is what options does one have when the situation occurs. If a gun would prove useful, it only makes sense it would be good to have the OPTION of employing it. If it seems impossible to do so, one only need not employ it.

    See…it is about CHOICE.

  • Paul

    I thought Yale was a top flight school with excellent researchers.

    Race? Actually I feel poor minorities need MORE protection if anything.

  • rspock

    The fact is 38 states with shall issue concealed carry DO show a decrease in violent crime rates compared to those that don't! Connecticut IS NOT A SHALL ISSUE CCW state!

    As the previous comment posters have pointed out, Mr. Iverson is completely wrong! He is obviously more concerned with using propoganda for promoting a fascist agenda than the truth!

  • Jason The Saj

    As someone who grew up and lived in New Haven, Connecticut. Having lived thru the crime-mare around 1990. I feel qualified to provide some additional evidence.

    As has been stated, Connecticut is NOT a shall issue state. In fact, Connecticut does not even allow you to buy a handgun freely after a background check. Rather you must either have a CCW permit or a certificate to purchase. The cumbersome nature of Connecticut's laws makes it difficult for many Connecticut residents.

    That said, many areas of Connecticut provide a combination of hostile environment and poor police response.

    In the 1990's I watched mounted police see a group of kids fighting and turned their horses around and rode off the other way. Oh, and the fights were simply a gang of kids just randomly jumping and beating down strangers who waited at the bus stop.

    The last year I was in New Haven I had made three calls to 911. All went unresponded. The last call was while in a gas station when a large belligerent man was making racist and threatening comments and made a death threat toward the small hispanic cashier. I called 911, described the situation and got the following response "It's New Haven what do want us to do about!" in an extremely sarcastic and dismissive tone.

    Later I dealt with a situation in which a convicted felon was renting an apartment from a family member. Even though this man was actively engaged in the behaviors he had served Federal time for. We were unable to get any of about four government agencies to act. On top of damaging the apartment. Shortly after his removal he broke into the house and stole a laptop. We couldn't even get the police to dust for finger-prints when we pretty much knew who the perpetrator was.

    Now, I know people like Yale students will likely be quick to dismiss personal experience and resort to statistics. But let me add the following: statistics are easily filtered for a desired sampling, the outcomes may be due to aspects not accounted for, personal experience will always weigh more for the person than pseudo-science of statistics.

    Lastly, as a New Havener, we've encountered enough Yale students to know that they're often no where near as bright as one might be led to believe.

    - The Saj

  • Jack Burton

    "Clark seems to think that a robber might be scared of his concealed gun, but I invite him to explain how to unholster, unlock, cock and aim when a thief already has a knife pressed against your belly or a pistol pointed at your heart. The only way for armed students to stop potential assailants would be preemptively. Here we encounter a problem. "

    And isn't it amazing, folks, that people who never shot a gun, who are dreadfully afraid of guns, who believe that guns CAUSE good people to go bad, who only barely know which end the bullet comes out of, are somehow the people to whom we should look for advise on how to use guns for self defense?

    While we simple-minded, misguided, befuddled people with years or even lifetimes of experience with guns, really don't know our butts from a hole in the ground about guns, and without the anointed ones' guidance we will merrily continue to shoot ourselves in our feet, kill our children, and generally screw up society?

    Like they say: When you're sick you go to a car mechanic; when you're in court you need a butcher; and when you want to know something about guns, you go to Mr. Factless.

    An Open Letter to Those Who Wonder Why Citizens Would Want to Carry Guns in Public


  • ParatrooperJJ

    Did you even look up the law before opening your trap? CT is NOT a shall issue state!!

  • Steve

    Possessing a gun doesn't turn a person into a murderer.

    Just like being a woman doesn't turn you into a prostitute just because you are equiped to be one.

  • Elderwyrm

    "Just like being a woman doesn't turn you into a prostitute just because you are equiped to be one."

    …. I,….There is no response to this.
    By God, as hard as I try THERE IS NO RESPONSE.

    These have to be a joke, I mean, come on. These are just pranks by people pretending to be Yale students.

    Well, except maybe three of these.

  • Steve

    Actually, anyone can post here, Yale student or not.

    And the reason you can't respond to what I said is because the logic of both is exactly the same.

    Person+Equipment=Type of person. One doesn't lead to the other, but is the logic used by the writer of this article. Oh, and if he wants to pull the race card, the first gun control laws were written so that African-American people couldn't own guns. Ironic, huh?

  • ravenshrike

    The author of the editorial is clearly grossly wrong on multiple facts of interest, so when is the Yale Daily News going to get him to write a retraction?

  • Elderwyrm

    I can't respond because of the poor concept of this metaphor. A woman is no more or less equipped to be a prostitute than a man. You might have been looking for;

    Just because someone has a car doesn't make them a hit and run driver.

    Just because someone has a tool box doesn't mean they're a carpenter.


    Ta-da. Not insulting in the least, and logically sound to boot.

    I understand that a number of people are unhappy with this article. That's fine. What's odd is how many of them missed the point of the article in the first place (cite your sources and provide researched data) and, past that, are nearly incapable of expressing their exasperation (again, with the exceptions).

    Maybe I'm just old and bitter.

  • ravenshrike

    Oh, we understand the 'point' of the article. It was purported to be a reason to cite proper sources and not to make shit up. I would accuse the author of satire, but that would require a depth not shown in the article. Instead he is guilty of exactly what he accuses an earlier author of in his haste to write a thinly concealed hatchet job n guns and their effects in society.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, this is Nathan again…

    "I understand that a number of people are unhappy with this article. That's fine. What's odd is how many of them missed the point of the article in the first place (cite your sources and provide researched data) and, past that, are nearly incapable of expressing their exasperation (again, with the exceptions)."

    Mr. Elderwyrm I am not sure exactly what you are saying. I think the point of many of the respondents is that Mr. Iversen, in his critique of Clark’s article, got a very important issue wrong (shall-issue vs may-issue) just in the first three paragraphs! The further you read into the article there are many other errors too.

    In my response, I certainly provided enough information for others to find the source documents via Google. These are not blogger data where veracity may be in question, but source material (John Lott as one example). I certainly did a much better job than Mr. Iversen despite the fact that I am not a Yale Masters candidate. However, I did have the advantage of debating some European socialists/quasi-communists on the subject of firearm abolition.