By Larry Pratt
In Utah, according to USA Today (1/14/2002), Bernie Machen, President of the University of Utah, says he's willing to go to court, if necessary, to defend his school's campus gun ban. And he says this despite the fact that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's legal opinion is that such a campus gun-ban would violate the state's concealed-weapons law.
President Machen does not get it. Having people on campus with guns, people who know how to use guns, will actually save lives. A recent case-in-point involves the man who shot six people -- murdering three of them -- on the campus of the Appalachian School Of Law (ASL) in Grundy, Virginia.
In mid-January, a disgruntled student at ASL, Peter Odighizuwa, opened fire on campus wounding three people and murdering three others -- the school's Dean, a law professor and a student. As reported in The Charlotte Observer newspaper (1/18/2002), two men who helped bring the murderer under control were ASL students Mikael Gross and Tracy Bridges, both North Carolina law enforcement officers. The Observer says, in part:
Gross ran to his car, parked about 100 yards away, without dropping the gunman from his sight, grabbed his bullet-proof vest from his trunk and a gun from under his front seat. While the man pointed his gun at fellow students, Gross and two others ran toward him from different directions. One of the others was Tracy Bridges... who also had his gun, Gross said. When the gunman saw them, Gross said, he put his weapon down and his hands up. The third man, Ted Besen... was not armed and ordered the gunman onto the ground. Instead, the gunman lunged at Besen and punched him in the face.
Now, notice the difference here, please, President Machen. When the murderer was confronted by the man with no gun, he ignored him. The murderer punched him in the face. But, when the murderer was confronted by the two men with guns, the murderer put his gun down and surrendered.
In an interview, Tracy Bridges tells us that he was told by a Virginia State Police investigator that when the murderer was stopped by himself and Gross "[the murderer] was going back to his car to get more ammunition." And yes, Bridges says, if he (Bridges) had been carrying his weapon -- instead of having to go to his car to get it -- he probably could have stopped the murderer earlier since "he (Bridges) was in a classroom across from where the first professor was killed." Bridges says the gun he used to force the surrender of the murderer was a Ruger Speed Six, an old .357 revolver; the gun Gross had was a Beretta.
Bridges says he wasn't carrying his weapon and had to go to his car to get it because he is from out-of-state and had not gone through the procedure required to carry it. He says that this procedure "is rather expensive for a law student." And yes, he says he has, indeed, had second thoughts about going through this procedure now so he can carry his gun.
Now, all of this may be news to you because the media has widely ignored the fact that the students who forced the murderer to surrender were armed. James Eaves-Johnson, writing in the Daily Iowan newspaper (1/24/2002), reports that a Lexis-Nexis search revealed 88 stories about the ASL murders and only two mentioned Bridges and Gross were armed. A Westnews search exposed worse results. It revealed 112 stories on the murders, of which only two mentioned that Bridges and Gross were armed.
On the NBC Nightly News (1/16/02), Tom Brokaw noted, in part, that Virginia State Police were crediting law students at ASL "for preventing further loss of life, saying they overpowered the gunman and held him until police arrived." That's it. No mention that two of these students were armed.
The CBS Evening News (1/16/02) noted only that "students tackled the suspect." Again, no mention of any students being armed. And Public TV's NewsHour (1/16/02) said nothing about students doing anything reporting only that "the suspect was captured."
In a lengthy interview on CBS' Early Show (1/17/02), co-host Bryant Gumbel spoke with several people - including Tracy Bridges - regarding the ASL murders. All Gumbel said was that Bridges was among a group of students "who took the gunman down," who "helped pin him down." No mention of Bridges having a gun.
To his credit, on NBC's Today show (1/17/02), Bridges, though not asked, of course, noted that he (Bridges) "got out my handgun, and started to approach [the murderer]. At that time, [the murderer] threw up his hands and threw his weapon down."
In a story of almost 1000 words on the ASL murders, the rabidly anti-gun Washington Post (1/18/02) reported that "three students pounced on the gunman and held him down until help arrived." The Post noted that Bridges and Gross "helped subdue [the murderer] until sheriff's deputies arrived." No mention that Bridges and Gross were armed.
So, the moral of this story is so obvious that it ought to be clear even to a University President like Bernie Machen in Utah. The moral: More guns, less crime. In this case, the more people who had guns at the ASL that tragic day, and knew how to use them, the less people who were murdered. And the same thing will be true at the University of Utah if they ever have a murderous gunman on their campus.
The Charlotte Observer (1/18/02) quotes Mikael Gross as saying, after he and others headed into the ASL administration building to help those who had been shot: "There was blood everywhere. It looked like somebody had mopped the floor with blood." But -- thank God -- a lot less blood was shed at the ASL than might have been shed thanks to the fact that two courageous students were armed and knew how to use their guns.