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City College of San Francisco Police Don't Carry Guns:

ABC7.com reports:

The police chief at City College of San Francisco has resigned over a question of security. He wanted his officers to be able to carry guns on campus, especially in light of a recent incident, but he was overruled.

In late April, 52-year-old Peter Lee rushed into a classroom in the science building, dressed in camouflage. Students say he threatened to kill everyone. But campus police had to wait until S.F.P.D. arrived before they could respond. That's because campus cops don't carry guns -- only pepper spray and batons.

Fortunately, Lee was not armed either and they arrested him without incident....

Carl Koehler, CCSF Police Chief: "In this day and age, there are guns on campus, but the police don't have them." ... [Koehler] was fighting a 70-year-old college policy prohibiting its officers from carrying guns.

I'm not a policing expert, so maybe there is some reason to leave armed intervention to the city police rather than having on-campus police able to do it. Certainly not all organizations employ armed guards; and despite the occasional high-profile campus shooting, my sense is that universities generally aren't that dangerous. Nonetheless, my first reaction is that armed protection is likelier to be more effective -- not just against mass shootings, but also rapes, robberies, and the like -- than unarmed protection. Any thoughts on this, or more specific facts about the CCSF situation?

Thanks to Sam Spade's San Francisco blog and Peter Buxtun for the pointer.

xxxx (mail):
LOL. San Fran is such a joke. Why would they need guns. Isn't it a gun-free zone. No one would ever bring a gun into a gun free zone.
6.8.2007 8:38pm
e:
I'd be happy to leave longer range weapons to the real police. Tasers should be sufficient for all but the rarest campus security issues, but unfortunately some circles (like the stereotype of San Fran?) think Tasers are just as evil as guns.
6.8.2007 8:44pm
e:
Sorry, that evil was supposed to be in quotes.
6.8.2007 8:45pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Even stranger, Canadian border guards were not peace officers until 1998 and even then only were provided with weapons such as batons and pepper spray, not firearms. Under legislation passed in 2006, they are now being equipped with sidearms and trained in their use. Believe it or not, this was controversial.
6.8.2007 8:45pm
whit:
this is an issue where it varies WIDELY from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

i actually went to police academy on the east coast, and several officers from Harvard U PD were my classmates. they have a quite large police dept., and own some property in some rather "interesting" locations. they are fully armed. in california, the campus cops at UC schools are full fledged peace officers, having the exact same extent of training and law enforcement powers as any other cop.

other campuses, the police are little more than security guards, who do a lot of door checks and stuff and just call the local police when there's an incident they can't handle.

there are budgetary issues - it costs a LOT more for fully training guntoting cops - in screening, training, and salary usually, and of course POLITICAL ISSUES. i would not be surprised in ohsoliberal anti-gun san fran, that the police chief (who is not a real cop probably, but a political appointee and thus a proxy for the mayor/city council) would come out against city college cops being armed.

some very PC campuses feel that having armed vs. unarmed security/police creates a more unwelcome or hostile atmosphere or whatever.

plenty of private colleges have armed police btw, let alone public ones.

generally speaking, universities are EXCEPTIONALLY safe (as are high schools and elementary schools i might add), however when the #$(#$( hits the fan, it pays to have actual armed cops who can respond vs. a bunch of guys with pepper spray.
6.8.2007 8:52pm
whit:
bill, the canadian border 'guards' are actually a complete farce, at least prior to being armed.

several times, in the recent past, cops from WA state have pursued criminal towards the border. the canadian border secretaries :) are actually encouraged to ABANDON their guard shacks and HIDE away from the actual border checkpoint. it's amazing.

and yes, it was controversial that they might be armed. arming border guards was seen as going against canada's "image".
6.8.2007 8:54pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
e: An interesting point, but let me ask a few questions:

Deterrence: What do you think about the relative deterrent effects of Tasers and guns? Say someone is caught in a rape or robbery, and has a weapon (say, a knife). I'd think that many criminals who would give up if they are facing a risk of death wouldn't give up if they are facing only a risk of Tasering (even Tasering plus an enhanced sentence for trying to attack the police officer). Am I mistaken?

Morale: Do you think that a police officer armed with a Taser (as opposed to a gun) would feel some extra fear about, say, coming to the aid of a crime victim if he thinks the criminal may have a knife or a gun?

Capturing fleeing serious felons: I take it that "Freeze or I'll shoot!" will work better if the police officer has a gun than if he has a Taser (even one that can shoot a dart some number of feet). True, the police can't shoot all fleeing felons (see Tennessee v. Garner), but the Constitution doesn't bar them from shooting fleeing felons who had committed a very serious crime, like murder, attempted murder, rape, and the like. Do you think this counsels in favor of arming the campus police with guns, or does this circumstance arise too rarely (or might perhaps be mooted by policies against shooting even fleeing violent felons -- I don't know what local policies are like on that)?
6.8.2007 8:56pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Yes, that is precisely the point, that having unarmed guards who have to back off and wait for the police to turn up is not an effective approach.

Image is a lot of the basis for the opposition, but not all. There are also people concerned about the cost of the weapons themselves and of training the guards to use them.
6.8.2007 8:58pm
Matthew J. Brown (mail):
I know that where I work, USC in Los Angeles, employs almost 80 armed peace officers as well as a greater number of unarmed security personnel. Granted, USC is in a somewhat more dangerous neighborhood, but still.
6.8.2007 9:01pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
whit:

I should add that I think that it is unfair to call the border guards prior to being armed "secretaries". They were in no position to deal with armed criminals, but with batons and pepper spray they certainly could detain most people trying to enter illegally, most people trying to bring in contraband, and most people trying to enter with communicable diseases. Most of the the police duties pertaining to customs and immigration involve people who are not violent and not armed.

I agree with the policy of arming border guards because there are situations in which they are confronted by armed violent criminals, but those situations are not all that common. I don't expect them to use their guns all that often.
6.8.2007 9:05pm
Ming the Merciless Siamese Cat (mail):
Let's see, having an armed police force increases the chances that, in an altercation the perp. will get shot. Having an unarmed police force increases the chances that the law enforcement officer will get shot. CCSF has elected to go with option two, even though it is better able, through training and protocols, to control option one.
6.8.2007 9:08pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
If the real police can respond quickly, it may make sense not to provide campus security with firearms if the campus is one in which they will not be used often. If you're going to have armed security, they not only need initial firearms training but, for their own safety as well as that of others, they need either regular maintenance training or actual combat. One hopes that few campuses provide their police with regular firefights. So I can imagine scenarios in which it makes sense to have campus security be an unarmed force and depend on the regular police for armed intervention where necessary. Whether this is one of them, I don't know.
6.8.2007 9:13pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Here in Massachusetts, where state law (federal law does not apply to colleges and universities, only elementary and secondary schools) prohibits guns on college campuses without written permission from the institution's administration, our colleges are "Gun Free Zones," which in my opinion equates to "Free-fire Zones." So far (to my knowledge) we have managed to duck the bullet on this, but given the openness of most college campuses, the Gun Free Zone concept is a very bad joke which is likely to turn and bite us sooner or later....

As a side note, MIT also has a very professional (and armed) police force.
6.8.2007 9:25pm
The Drill SGT:

If you're going to have armed security, they not only need initial firearms training but, for their own safety as well as that of others, they need either regular maintenance training or actual combat.


I'm not a cop, but carried a 45 in combat for a year and in non-combat situations for 10 more.

It seems to me there are three training components involved in arming cops.

1. actual weapons accuracy training. e.g. hitting the target
2. weapons safety training. how to avoid hurting yourself or others
3. crisis situation decision making. when to run away, when to shoot, when to talk....

even your unarmed campus police really need blocks 2 and 3. And those blocks are taught by the force and required. Block 1 though taught at an academy, often in real life, proficiency is maintained by cops on their own, given a range and potentially police ammo. cops practice because they think they need to practice.

the big cost driver I think is block 3, which you need regardless of whether you are armed or not.
6.8.2007 9:33pm
e:
Prof V, I may very well be the mistaken one, but I think the primary deterrent should come from getting caught and subject to the penal code (read confinement), not the device which incapacitates a person engaged in violent crime. If Tasers work as advertized they give cops a chance to put on handcuffs and protect victims. The problem is that they are more limited in range (and I believe number of "rounds") so perhaps aren't effective against criminals with firearms. They also won't help against a bell-tower sniper. I suspect they would work fine against rapists armed with guns/knives/muscles.

Your question makes me wonder if armed police provide our unofficial death penalty.
6.8.2007 9:38pm
Wallace (mail):
At UPenn, there is unarmed campus security and there are the Penn Police, who are police officers in the UPENN area with the same powers of arrest, etc as Philadelphia police officers. Uniformed security fulfill more mundane roles, such as checking ID's at entrances, making sure doors are locked, etc. The biggest difference between Penn Police and Philly cops is jurisdiction. The second biggest difference is that Penn is considered a better place to work in Philly, so that police force can be more choosy in personnel matters then the regular police.

On a large campus, I think having armed police officers is a no-brainer. They're the first responders to crimes, handle crowd control, etc. College students are, on average, more fit than the rest of the population and perhaps more like to use drugs and alcohol which alter judgment. For the safety of the public and the officer, the police should be armed. The unarmed uniformed security can be a nice complement to the police, but they are no substitute.
6.8.2007 9:54pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
At NC State University the Campus Police officers are "sworn" law enforcement officers. They are trained (police academy) and armed similarly to city police officers. However they are also trained with emphasis on "non-force" methods and de-escalation of situations (I don't know the real terminology.) to handle the common loudmouth wiseguy student situations.
6.8.2007 10:17pm
JBL:
Many buildings, such as museums, banks, and stores, deliberately do not have armed guards inside. The argument is that the most likely crime to occur in these buildings is theft, a firefight (or standoff) inside is likely to be dangerous, and the criminal has an extremely high probability of getting caught once outside the building, especially if there are armed officers in the area. Besides, if the criminal is willing to commit murder, having a single armed guard just singles him out as the first person to get shot. A violent situation will probably require a coordinated response from the external police anyway. Not only are the guards on the inside unable to stop an armed criminal, they don't want to. Their function is to radio the police and then assist the bystanders. Even without debating whether theft justifies shooting the thief, the survival odds for all parties are better if he's apprehended or shot after he leaves the building.

I would guess that most crimes on college campuses (or shopping malls, or wherever) are likely to be of the sort that don't merit deadly force. Those situations that do get violent are likely to require a coordinated team response.

For crimes other than a suicidal killing spree, the probability of getting caught eventually is probably as effective a deterrent as the possibility of getting shot on the spot.

It is true that there are situations when having a gun on the spot would be useful. That may well be an argument against having a no-firearm zone in general, but I'm not sure it applies specifically to campus police.

I suppose it depends on what you're worried about. In some ways the idea of greatly expanding the armed police force while still prohibiting civilian carry makes me feel even less safe.
6.8.2007 10:35pm
Elliot123 (mail):
How many shots can a Taser deliver? How many bullets does a pistol hold?
6.8.2007 10:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Besides, if the criminal is willing to commit murder, having a single armed guard just singles him out as the first person to get shot."

If that's the case, then why do we do have armed bailiffs in courts and armed guards in many banks? I think the answer is that any uniformed guard represents a symbol of authority that invites attack. The attack need not be the lethal kind. The guard's gun serves to deter most people, but of course not everyone.

We faced this issue when our neighborhood decided to hire private patrol car. The city had demonstrated its unwillingness to protect us, and after a rash of burglaries and attempts at home invasion, we decided to act. We formed a committee and recommended an armed guard. A very small number of (liberal) hotheads strongly objected, both to the guard and certainly to an armed guard. One woman told us in all seriousness that she would rather be raped and beaten than live a neighborhood patrolled by an armed guard. We polled the whole community and they voted overwhelmingly for the armed guard. Our opposition tried every dirty trick and falsehood they could muster to stop us.
6.9.2007 12:15am
pete (mail) (www):
e: "but I think the primary deterrent should come from getting caught and subject to the penal code (read confinement), not the device which incapacitates a person engaged in violent crime."

That is because you are not a violent criminal. One way not to get caught is to kill the person trying to catch you. The immediate threat of death is a good way to get a lot of criminals to stop and submit to an arrest. If they had a good sense of long term consequences, they would not be criminals in the first place.

"I suspect they would work fine against rapists armed with guns/knives/muscles"

That is just crazy. I doubt any cop would voluntarily take on a criminal armed with a knife or gun if they were only armed with a tazer themselves. Are you seriously suggesting it is a good idea for cops who only have tazers to confront suspects armed with guns? Even just with knives that is a bad idea. First off, tazers do not subdue a suspect as effectively as a firearm. Rodney King is the most famous example of this as he was hit multiple times with a tazer and did not go down. Second the range on a gun is much longer than on a tazer. A suspect could simply shoot the cop before he got close enough to use a tazer.

In Texas the campus police can have the same authority as regular city/county police. The police I knew at the private university I worked at were armed with 9mm handguns and had the authority to arrest people who would then be sent to the city jail if the crime was serious enough. They did arrest people for drunk driving, trespassing, assault, dealing drugs, and for other crimes that were serious enough that it made sense for them to be armed with guns. I once called them to report a possible rape in progress and was very glad when they showed up armed with guns. I of course did not have a gun on me at the time since it is a "gun free zone".
6.9.2007 12:52am
Zuhaib (mail) (www):
As a former CCSF Student (transfered to a University) i dont know if i would trust the current band of campus police. Most of there duty is traffic and it seems they are peppered for that job very well (I have the tickets to prove it). If they where to carry guns, they would need to retrain everyone and maybe replace a large group of them with more "professional" level officers.
Also CCSF is located in a unique situation, as it is inside a urban neighborhood, with a police station not too far (and a fire station across the street). So its not cut off from Local Police as i have seen in other campuses. Also its a small campus, at lest the main one that is in question.
Here is a google map to give you an idea how close the SFPD stations is close to CCSF: Link

I am not a anti-gun person actually, i am a former NRA member (just did not renew my membership out of laziness) and a gun lover. My father always owned guns. I just think for such an urban college i dont think they need an armed police force when they city and provide one. Also tax money both ways will be spent for using local police, or, getting a campus police as CCSF is funded by State and City tax funds (tuitions when i was going there where only $11 a unit)
6.9.2007 1:41am
Richard Allen (mail):
I have been the "civilian" supervisor of a campus police force and of a school district security force with armed and unarmed components. My observations are that police are by definition sworn law enforcement officers and require all the training and certification of any other LE officer. Armed security are non-sworn personnel but should have training that closely replicates that of regular LE staff if you value the safety of your community as well as the officers themselves. It is highly worthwhile to have your own force because they are there if something happens while the city police have to respond. (All campus forces should have the closest co-operation with police from the local jurisdiction.) In addition, your own force provides an ability to respond to situations that would not normally draw a city police response but can easily escalate in to a more dangerous situation if not dealt with.

Tasers are emphatically not a compromise option. Police forces equiped with tasers typically have a policy requiring 2nd officer backup before a taser is used. This is a recognition of the limitations of tasers that another poster noted.
6.9.2007 8:39am
Dave!:
Not being allowed to carry *deadly force* is not the same as being unarmed. Yes, perhaps guns would be more effective against a mass shooter, ala VT. However, that occurrence is quite rare (in spite of media hysteria) and I would guess that most _campus_ security/police forces deal with non-violent offenses the vast majority of their time. They probably also have limited budgets for expert marksmanship training, saftey training programs, etc.

For most situation those forces are likely to encounter, I would think being armed with a non-lethal weapon (like a Taser) is a good compromise. I don't think a criminal is less likely to give up facing a taser vs. a gun. Yes, a gun is certainly more threatening, but the deadly force it is capable of also makes it less likely to be used. Someone facing a gun is likely to know that 1) the officer has been trained _not_ to fire as often as to fire; 2) the officer (if trained properly) is less likely to shoot to kill. Whereas, even with limitations, a taser should be much safer (from a policy perspective) to deploy. Not that criminals stand around weighing policy issues... :) But bottom line, it's hard for a crook not to surrender when they are writhing, incapacitated on the ground. A crook might *think* their chances are better against the taser, but it's also easier for the cop to choose to pull the trigger and demonstrate otherwise.
6.9.2007 9:56am
Russ (mail):
e,

You had to have provided perhaps the single most naive explaination of deterrence I have ever heard of. A criminal isn't deterred by the possibility of being imprisoned, or he would not be committing the crime in the first place. However, a bullet to the chest from a law enforcement officer that is trying to save that criminal's victim would probably cross his mind much more often.

And it's not an unofficial death penalty - it's called self defense or the defense of the innocent. And a police officer that brings a taser to a gun fight is likely to get killed. You see, amazingly enough, criminals do not care that you've posted a banner that declares a "gun free zone" or have faith in tasers. They're kinda bizarre that way with their disregard of the law.

Confinement and prison are after effects. Officers who can deter since criminals know they might get shot are preventive measures. Were it you or a member of your family who was the potential victim of a crime, which would you prefer?
6.9.2007 9:59am
john w. (mail):
"Besides, if the criminal is willing to commit murder, having a single armed guard just singles him out as the first person to get shot."

Powerful argument there in favor of licenced concealed carry by non-uniformed citizens. That way the criminal doesn't know in advance who should be singled out!
6.9.2007 11:47am
Lysenko (mail):
John W beat me to my comment:

Armed vs. Unarmed police have a negligible impact on my safety and that of the citizens around me, compared to armed vs. unarmed citizenry and my ability to exercise my rights. Unfortunately I live on-campus at the moment (cheap post-grad apartments owned by a state university) and so cannot even store a firearm in my -home- without breaking the law...
6.9.2007 12:59pm
e:
1. Probably correct that the most violent are deterred only by immediate force, but I still don't think this applies to most potential thieves, rapists, and even many would be murderers. Prison is bad enough for first time offenders and those lower on the spectrum and protects against sanction applied mistakenly and irreversibly by the state (or rent-a-cop).

2. I appreciate comments from the less naive, but my understanding is that criminals armed with guns in some situations like muggings and campus rapes could still be Tased rather than shot with no added danger to the cops. Again I understand the limitations in terms of range and danger from someone committed to using a gun against authorities, and might even agree with the potential victim concealed carry solution.

3. Extending the argument that cops should bring guns to gun fights, does that mean that all armed cops should have assault weapons or more, because some criminals may have similar weapons possibly even modified to allow full auto or bursts of fire?

2. Slightly off topic - Yes, deadly force is used to defend individuals, but that does not really explore the issue of some moral connection to the death penalty, which is used to protect society. My question holds, especially where rules of engagement do allow force to fleeing criminals and those not shot in the act.
6.9.2007 1:02pm
John R. Mayne (mail):
I'm a prosecutor in Northern California. I'm not a gun expert, and I'm not an expert on campus security. I have handled some cases involving police shooting people or people shooting at police.

My views, for what they are worth (which may not be much):

1. Tasers are terrific for a lot of situations. They're very effective on almost everyone. (People on PCP are the most common exception, and they aren't that common. Once you hit 'em and discharge the Taser, they get real cooperative.)

2. If the cop has a Taser, and the bad guy has a gun, that's asking for a dead cop. Tasers are not appropriate for gunfights; you've got to put a person with a gun and a willingness to use down *for sure.* Tasers lack the range of guns.

3. Others have pointed out that training, pay, and hiring selection for gun-armed personnel is all going to be more costly and difficult than for non-lethally armed personnel. All gun-armed personnel need to be trained in non-lethal takedowns (pepper spray, Tasers, rubber bullets - whatever you've got) and when to use them, as well as proper gun and gun-use training.

4. I view the chance that well-trained police with guns will needlessly shoot people when other options are available as negligible.

In the end, the question is whether the additional cost is worth the additional safety. This particular weighing test has led to virtually all US police agencies using guns (a result I think is correct.) There may well be exceptions to that, but San Francisco has a significant amount of crime, partly due to out-of-towners who know they won't likely get three-striked in SF. I strongly suspect the exiting police chief is right, but I don't have all the facts.

--JRM
6.9.2007 1:29pm
john w. (mail):
I could be wrong about this, because I haven't really researched it, but I think I once read somewhere that when professional police forces first came into existence, the officers were not armed -- at least not "officially." The assumption was, that if an officer ever got into truble, there would be plenty of armed Citizens around to come to his aid.

Apparently, somewhere along the line, the tail started wagging the dog.
6.9.2007 1:55pm
Elliot123 (mail):
In Kansas City, the police carry both guns and Tasers. News stories indicate the Tasers are being used against people who are not armed with a gun, while guns are being used against peole armed with guns.
6.9.2007 2:18pm
SocratesAbroad (mail):
I know from my undergrad days at U Chicago [in a specific instance, I was on Natl Guard duty washing a Humvee near campus when an officer rolled up and we discussed their firearms and training] that the UC PD are fully accredited police officers, as are officers at Emory University. As another poster mentioned, these officers undergo extra training in addition to the regular academy in order to learn about policing at a uni campus.

While Emory in Atlanta is in a relatively low-key residential neighborhood, U of C is on the South Side of Chicago and the area outside the campus is pretty dodgy.

As has been hinted here, armed police serve not only to protect students from each other (rape, incidents involving alcohol, etc.) but also the surrounding community, if need be.

For those interested, the legal grounds &ramifications of use of force and use of Tasers in particular is included in this U of I Champaign Urbana police academy paper here. The academy doesn't advocate either side.

Regarding the question of why firearms are even necessary, one answer is provided by the military (Air Force and Marines as two ready examples), which is shifting away from 9mm handguns because they lack the stopping power of the older .45cal pistol. Similarly, police like the Atlanta Police Dept have switched from 9mm to 40cal. because of the former's lack of stopping power.
According to the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Center in Forsyth, all state agencies with sworn officers and most of Georgia's local law enforcement agencies have used 40-caliber weapons for years. Atlanta's and Gwinnett and DeKalb counties' police departments are among the few that haven't changed.

State firearms trainer Ernie Tobin said a "heavier bullet" used in the 40-caliber "tends to penetrate deeper . . . into the body to impact the organs deep in the body. This whole thing is about terminal ballistics."

Point being, use of deadly force is a last result, but should it be needed an officer must have that option available to protect him/herself and the community (and the victim, if present). Why the City College of San Francisco fails to recognize this, I do not know.
6.9.2007 2:19pm
ScottB (mail):
Actually, there was a serious attempt to prohibit San Francisco Police from carrying their guns on any public school campus several years ago. It ultimately failed. San Francisco public schools are terrible and extremely violent- racially motivated fights, routine robbery, occasional rape, sporadic shootings.

As far as the City College goes, the politics which motivate the decision are the same liberal city politics. But the fact is that San Francisco is a dense city with a police department which responds quite quickly. The response time is probably not that different from that of an armed City College police department.
6.9.2007 3:11pm
wranger5 (mail):
Just the possibility of a deadly-force response can deter undesirable conduct. When Oklahoma passed their "castle doctrine" law in 1987 allowing homeowners to use deadly force against burglars without fear of civil or criminal repercussions, burglaries dropped approximately in half over the next 13 years (from about 58,000 to about 31,000 annually) while other forms of theft remained at exactly the same levels (about 96,000 annually.) Only about 11 burglars were actually killed by homeowners during that 13 year period. The other burglaries that would have been expected just didn't get tried. Source.

This suggests that arming campus police could provide deterrent effects against undesirable conduct, beyond the obvious ability to respond more forcefully should that becomes necessary. Although as john w suggests above, the known (possible) presence of concealed-carrying civilians would probably be an even more effective (and cost effective) deterrent.
6.9.2007 3:45pm
davod (mail):
Maybe I presume to much when I say that university police are employed to protect those on campus. Whether the police are armed with guns or not should not be a matter of politics but security. If the local municipal police are instantly available then maybe guns are not needed.

But if you call the university police then they call the local police how long does this take?

The VT police are unarmed and the VT chancellor is still proud of this fact. I believe one of his arguments is that the police with guns is not a welcoming atmosphere. What does this have to do with security.
6.9.2007 4:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
The argument for a welcoming environment is interesting. Each time I have been welcomed into a Las Vegas casino armed security people were very visible. In some casinos the guns were visible; in others they were not. I wonder if the casinos would increase their take if they got rid of the guns? Do liberals gamble? In public?
6.9.2007 4:25pm
Wild Pegasus (mail) (www):
Don't arm the cops. That's a stupid idea. Arm the students and professors.

- Josh
6.9.2007 4:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Do liberals gamble?"

They surely do, but all too often with other people's money and other people's lives.
6.9.2007 4:47pm
Carolina:
Princeton has gunless (armed with pepper spray) campus security, called "proctors." When I was there in the early 90s, there were rumors that they kept some guns in the campus police HQ for emergency use, but I have no idea if that is true.

Everyone I knew felt this was fine, since Princeton is pretty quiet and both local municipalities (Princeton Borough and Princeton Township) had well paid, professional forces whose response time to campus was usually 2-3 minutes, or less.

Although the subject of occasional student humor, the proctors did a good job with the typical unruly college student type situation. In the very rare event something more was called for, P'ton Borough/Township patrols responded. The proctors also provided lockers in the campus police HQ if a student wanted to keep guns there (students were not allowed to have guns in dorms, to the best of my recollection).
6.9.2007 5:36pm
a knight (mail) (www):
As someone who grew up in Las Vegas, has always considered it to be my home town, even when employment has taken me elsewhere, and am now back living there, I think expanding the Las Vegas example can offer a bit more insight.

First, I am going to crack back at those who gratuitously made 'liberal' remarks, implying that conservatives are better defenders of the 2nd amendment. Many Conservatives only defend the 2nd amendment, because of the political capital it provides them, not because they are pure in their intents. The best way to discern the purity of a Conservative's 2nd amendment attitudes is to press upon them the concept of training America's inner city poor in the proper usage of firearms for self-defense, and providing them access to firearm ownership as a method to increase their neighborhoods' safety. Far too often, I have discovered that Conservatives have an inherent fear of armed poor folk. Libertarianism is not inherently right or left sided politically. This thought pollutes Libertarian Theory, is a reason that opposition to libertarianism is often based upon musing about its greed-headed members, and is a primary factor in its non-acceptance by many Americans. The axiomatic core of true Libertarian thought is simply that, the rights of individuals predominate up to the point that these rights infringe upon another's rights. All else is corollary. You must choose: Rothbard or Rand...choose wisely grasshopper.

Nevada has a very strong predilection towards private firearm ownership. In the casino industries, there are many employees who carry firearms as a part of their job. Very few individuals in Nevada are uncomfortable seeing firearms carried by individuals openly, whether they are wearing recognisable uniforms or not. Starting in the late '80s, Las Vegas Casinos experienced many instances of casino cage robberies perpetrated by groups of openly well-armed individuals, reminiscent of an old west bank robbery. To the credit of casino security, in not one of these robberies did a security officers go off Dirty Harry. Instead the criminals were allowed to getaway without intervention, while they worked to secure the safety of the casinos' patrons. The casino cages in Las Vegas possess a tremendous quantity of cash. It is a requirement of gaming law that they have the ability to pay off any liability owed to winners, other than extraordinary cases. The amount of cash needed is derived from a formula based upon the sum of each open game's (table and machine) mandated minimum being on hand. Compliance to this can be checked without prior notification at any time by State Gaming Control Officers. The minimal on hand cash requirements for major corporate casinos is astronomical. Any bookie worth their salt can tell you that is is important to not let yourself be over-exposed to a singular risk factor. If they find the themselves in such a bind, the solution is to lay-off bets with another bookie. In the world of the gaming corporation, this is known as having an insurance corporation underwrite potential liabilities. No insurance corporation is willing to assume the risk of covering a casino if they do not also have strong input into the considerations made towards the safety of casino patrons. There are many different primary duties for a casino security staff. Most of these duties do not require an armed employee to perform.

When the Mirage opened up, a new type of security system was unveiled. All interior security officers were dressed in a recognisable sports coat and tie, not in traditional guard uniforms. Additionally, there was a multi-tiered security system, where only some of the security personnel are armed, and those that are, carry concealed. The armed officers probably have a law enforcement or military police background. This model has so far proven to be valid, and has been used in many of the new mega-resorts since that time.
6.9.2007 7:36pm
College Cop (mail):
I am a police officer at the San Francisco Community College District (aka CCSF) and want to clear up some things. We are not security guards; we are sworn police officers with powers of arrest throughout California. Our officers are police academy trained and are in compliance with CA POST. In addition, we take another forty hour training block related to school policing. We also do ongoing police training in firearms, arrest and control techniques and driving at the San Francisco Police Academy.

Although traffic control is part of our regular duties, we do a whole lot more that people don't see. We patrol college district campuses throughout the city of San Francisco at all hours of the day and night in some of the worst parts of the city. We respond to burglar alarms and search buildings. We deal with violent criminals on a regular basis. We have had two murders on campus the most recent only a few years ago. I have personally arrested so many people (students and non-students) for warrants I can't count them. I have arrested people carrying all sorts of weapons ranging from sharpened screw drivers and putty knives to machetes. I have arrested burglars in buildings while responding to alarms (quite a pucker factor when you don't have a firearm).

The San Francisco Community College District Police work in an urban environment with all of the associated crime and danger. The danger does not magically stop at the edge of campus.

The San Francisco Police Department is excellent and has been able to respond quickly when we radio for assistance but for the most part SFPD does not know were to go on campus. For example: A few years ago we had a student report another student was threatening him with a firearm on campus. We could not respond and called SFPD for backup over the radio (I could have responded in a minute to the exact location). SFPD officers had to meet us and be taken to the location causing a ten minute delay. Luckily the firearm ended up being a replica.

Do we need firearms... Simply yes.
6.9.2007 8:41pm
anym avey (mail):
1. Probably correct that the most violent are deterred only by immediate force, but I still don't think this applies to most potential thieves, rapists, and even many would be murderers. Prison is bad enough for first time offenders and those lower on the spectrum and protects against sanction applied mistakenly and irreversibly by the state (or rent-a-cop).

And if wishes were nickels...

2. I appreciate comments from the less naive, but my understanding is that criminals armed with guns in some situations like muggings and campus rapes could still be Tased rather than shot with no added danger to the cops. Again I understand the limitations in terms of range and danger from someone committed to using a gun against authorities, and might even agree with the potential victim concealed carry solution.

Do you not recognize that properly trained police officers can do exactly that, while still having the gun available in the event of an escalation or a situation that cannot be handled using a Taser?

3. Extending the argument that cops should bring guns to gun fights, does that mean that all armed cops should have assault weapons or more, because some criminals may have similar weapons possibly even modified to allow full auto or bursts of fire?

Why did you stop there, with so much exciting territory left unexplored? A criminal might also have a grenade or a nail-filled pipe bomb or a suitcase nuke. Suitcase nukes for police everywhere! Meet type with like, no matter what it may be!

At any rate, the argument is specious. Any gun of sufficient caliber and load charge to deeply penetrate flesh is capable of providing deadly force against a deadly threat. Any gun of conventional shape and size is also capable of being perceived as potential deadly force by anyone who might have an inclination to resist. Regardless of what the other guy has (and most of the time, it IS another handgun), if you can't bring him down with a medium caliber pistol, you already called for backup and/or a SWAT team. Speaking of which, most major police forces DO possess assault weapons in proportion (and sometimes in great disproportion) to the number of times they actually confront a heavily-armed criminal.

2. Slightly off topic - Yes, deadly force is used to defend individuals, but that does not really explore the issue of some moral connection to the death penalty, which is used to protect society. My question holds, especially where rules of engagement do allow force to fleeing criminals and those not shot in the act.

It's only an outstanding question because you seem to make no distinction between crime and punishment, in which the accused is apprehended normally and must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the process of aprehending a suspect during or after a crime, in which deadly force is used in response to an active deadly threat. And yes, some crimes are considered serious enough that to mark the perpetrator as inherently being an active threat, and some ROEs permit a takedown option if a suspect of same attempts to flee the cops. So?
6.9.2007 11:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I could be wrong about this, because I haven't really researched it, but I think I once read somewhere that when professional police forces first came into existence, the officers were not armed -- at least not "officially." The assumption was, that if an officer ever got into truble, there would be plenty of armed Citizens around to come to his aid.
Somewhat true. Police officers in the then-independent city of Brooklyn, New York, were not regularly armed as late as 1880. There was also a widespread belief in Jacksonian America that police should have no more privileges than ordinary citizens, and in some places, the concern about official authority meant that police were not allowed to be armed while on duty.

When gun control measures were passed, they seldom exempted police. The first challenge to Alabama's 1830s ban on concealed carry involved a rather unusual defendant: the sheriff of Montgomery County, who was convicted of concealed carry of a handgun on the job. The statute provided for a $50 fine (equivalent to perhaps $1000 today) and the jury had the discretion to decide on the jail sentence. They sentenced him to six hours in his own jail. (I'm guessing that they convicted him in the morning.) The Alabama Supreme Court upheld the conviction, arguing that a sheriff didn't need a weapon to protect himself: he was armed with the majesty of the law, and if he needed armed assistance, he could call out the posse comitatus. (Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.)

New Orleans police were armed with swords and half-staffs in the period before the War of 1812, partly because the Kentuckians would come down river, and raise cain. A day without a murder was a newspaper headline in 1811--in a city of 7500 people. There was an incident where the Kentuckians chased the police out of "the Swamp" (a redlight district that was extraordinarily rough), and in retaliation for their cowardice--the city council disarmed the police.

My book Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic (Praeger Press, 1999) will tell you more about these matters than you have any reason to know.
6.10.2007 12:42am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
A similar dynamic applies to convenience store robberies, which have a high rate of being robbed and a significant rate of the teller being harmed, but the teller is always forbidden from carrying a means to defend themselves, since allowing this would cause the store owner's insurance rates to go up.

It seems to me, that there is a potential ethical/legal argument here.

If a public or private organization of any kind takes away your freedom to defend yourself, then it should be judged that by that action, they assume the responsibility to defend you.

If they do not, they should potentially face lawsuits when it is shown that they both took away your ability to defend yourself and were negligent in providing for your protection.

This would help the current perverted state of affairs where only the costs of defending your employees/customers is given weight, whereas the costs of NOT defending them is routinely ignored. Because a wounded criminal can sue the company, whereas a wounded bystander has no standing to sue anybody but the penniless criminal.
6.10.2007 3:07am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
> ... but my understanding is that criminals armed with guns in some situations like muggings and campus rapes could still be Tased rather than shot with no added danger to the cops.

That's just plain disingenuous. Yes, it might be sometimes *possibile* to subdue a gun-armed assailant with a taser, but there is no security or law enforcement agency in the USA or possibly even on earth who is going to write a policy that allows their taser-only force to go up against a gun wielder.

Also, the 'tasers are wonderful' argument willfully ignores the scenario of giving BOTH to the cops or security.

So bring a taser to a taser fight, and a gun to a gunfight. 99% of the reasonable objections magically solved or your money back!


> 3. Extending the argument that cops should bring guns to gun fights, does that mean that all armed cops should have assault weapons or more, because some criminals may have similar weapons possibly even modified to allow full auto or bursts of fire?

Unless the criminal is actually part of an armed assault force, there isn't a big difference in lethality between a semi-auto and an auto. Spraying automatic fire looks great in the movies, and serves the purpose of suppressive fire in militarty maneuvars, but tends not to be better at hitting a lone target than a plain old revolver.

And your example proves my point that policies are crafted in response to the firepower available. When such criminals exist, police policy is to hang back and wait for the SWAT team.

> 4. I view the chance that well-trained police with guns will needlessly shoot people when other options are available as negligible.

You trust the criminals not to shoot the police, but you don't trust 'well-trained police' not to foam at the mouth gunning down felons-in-progress... or maybe even shoplifters.

I think that tells us all we need to know about the seriousness of the people who oppose armed security.
6.10.2007 3:34am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Correction to 4: My response doesn't apply to you, I misread your quote. There are however others on this thread who DO deserve that response...
6.10.2007 6:34am
PersonFromPorlock:

> 4. I view the chance that well-trained police with guns will needlessly shoot people when other options are available as negligible.


Correction to 4: My response doesn't apply to you, I misread your quote. There are however others on this thread who DO deserve that response...

Ryan Waxx, allow me:

The FBI's quite famous for shooting people needlessly; Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, for example, or Joseph Schultz in Maryland a few years ago. And of course there's the death of Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta for a local-force example.

I also recall (vaguely) an article in Newsweek back in the early '90s that cited police shootings as being far more likely to be in error than self-defense shootings by civilians, although the details escape me.
6.10.2007 8:26am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
> The FBI's quite famous for shooting people needlessly;

Whereas criminals are not? Nice double standard you got there. Going to argue that your examples prove the FBI needs to be disarmed? No? Then its not proof that campus cops need to be, either.

> Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge.

And that's how one gets 'famous' for shooting people needlessly: A handful of cases, used to smear a larger group. You would be justifiably outraged were I to say that the Rodney King riots prove that blacks are quite famous for rioting, attacking other races, etc. But somehow its OK if you smear the cops.
6.10.2007 1:42pm
Alan Crowe (mail) (www):
I live in Scotland. Our police are unarmed and respond to armed criminals by calling upon specialist armed response units. This seems to work out OK in practice.

Why does it work? Handguns were banned in Scotland after the Dunblane massacre. I don't think that this is an explanation, because strictly speaking the law only deprives the law abiding of handguns, criminals have carried on as before.

My guess is that there is an unwritten rule, by which police and criminals carry on their game of cops and robbers. Neither side plays for keeps. Sentences are light, with kindly early release, and no three-strikes policies. Police are unarmed so criminals face no risk of being shot. There is lots of crime, so criminals can expect a half-hearted pursuit from overworked police.

If a criminal breaks the rules by carrying a gun and playing for keeps, the police focus their resources on capturing him and the courts impose a heavy sentence. I think one can analyse this as a collective action problem. The criminals could arm themselves and overwhelm the unarmed police force. But who goes first? So long as the criminals are unorganised, the armed response units can pick off the armed criminals one by one.

In this theory, an unarmed police force is viable if the advantage that criminals gain by using a gun to escape the scene of a crime is overturned by having the few skilled detectives assigned to their case and getting a long sentence. Imagine how conversations in prison go. There are some burglers chatting about how they are going to avoid getting caught when they are released in 6months or a year. One says he will carry a gun and shoot any-one who tries to arrest him. Then the ash-faced old bloke speaks up, that is what he did, that is why he will not be getting out for ten more years. He got away from the crime scene, but all the police in Scotland were looking for him. This is speculation on my part. I've read that prisons are universities of crime, but I've not read what they actually teach.

The interest for American libertarians is that it looks to me as though a society with 100% civilian gun ownership could have unarmed police, with only limited para-military backup. First you need a social taboo so that nobody shoots anybody else, then you need slack in the criminal justice system, which gets pulled taught in response to fire-arms so that armed criminals come to a bad end in ways that cut through the stupidity of ordinary criminals.

The impression I get from the wrong side of the Atlantic is that the necessary taboo is present in much of America. The biggest problem I see is that the War On Drugs is played for keeps, with horribly long sentences for unarmed offenders.
6.10.2007 2:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I also recall (vaguely) an article in Newsweek back in the early '90s that cited police shootings as being far more likely to be in error than self-defense shootings by civilians, although the details escape me.
Correct, but that's not an indication that police are trigger-happy. Victims know who is attacking them; police arriving at the scene of a crime sometimes have difficulty figuring who is the victim and who is the attacker, especially if the victim has put up a good fight. In addition, police are required to go into situations that civilians are not.
6.10.2007 2:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

First you need a social taboo so that nobody shoots anybody else,
Of course, once you manage that, it is amazing how many other problems go away. There are parts of America that are pretty close to this state now. There are other parts where the cultural problems are so severe that there's not much hope of making that work.
6.10.2007 2:47pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

First, I am going to crack back at those who gratuitously made 'liberal' remarks, implying that conservatives are better defenders of the 2nd amendment. Many Conservatives only defend the 2nd amendment, because of the political capital it provides them, not because they are pure in their intents. The best way to discern the purity of a Conservative's 2nd amendment attitudes is to press upon them the concept of training America's inner city poor in the proper usage of firearms for self-defense, and providing them access to firearm ownership as a method to increase their neighborhoods' safety.
You will notice that conservatives are backing the effort in Parker v. D.C., while liberals are, once again, doing their best to keep the decent black people of DC disarmed--leaving only criminals armed.

Try again. Conservatives have done their best, along with libertarians, to see that restrictive gun control laws are abolished everywhere. It is liberals (with a few rare exceptions) who have come up with excuse after excuse for why inner cities need very, very restrictive gun control laws--but are generally prepared to concede that "rural" (white) settings maybe don't need them as badly.
6.11.2007 12:11am
SGF:
Let's get two things clear:

1) Prevention is not the same as mitigation. Shooting a criminal in the act does not prevent the crime, it mitigates the crime. Prevention means keeping something from happening, mitigation means reducing the severity of something that's already happening. Now, recognition and consideration of the possibility of lethal mitigation happening to them may have a deterrent effect on a person, which would fall into the prevention category. Of course, that's entirely a psychological effect, since there's no guarantee a cop's actually going to be present when you're committing your (violent) crime, after all, and people tend to perceive the odds as being in their favor on that sort of thing. Assuming they're doing a cost-benefit analysis at all.

2. Police, armed or not, are about as good a tool for preventing or interfering with rapes as the Maginot Line was for keeping Germany out of France. Overwhelming majority of rapes, including campus rapes, are date rapes, with the rapist unarmed with anything other than body weight. Someone the victim knows, raping them in a house, or an apartment, or in the case of colleges a dorm room. Not somewhere there's a cop. And not violent crimes in the sense of a bogeyman with a knife or a gun doing it, just violent in the effect on the victim. Point is, rape's an absolute red herring when it comes to talking about guns, and unless you're talking about how the police treat the victim and investigate a reported rape, ditto when talking about police policy.
6.11.2007 3:59am
BrianT:
Years ago, I was an unarmed, sworn campus police officer in Massachusetts. On nights and weekends, we worked alone (not even a dispatcher). As I thought this was very unsafe, I carried my personal handgun in an ankle holster in case the SHTF. Not an ideal way of carrying, but better than nothing.
6.11.2007 10:28am
Houston Lawyer:
Regarding convenience store clerks, I worked as one for a couple of years in a small town. The boss kept a revolver under the counter. His instructions were to hand over the money if robbed. But the gun was there in case things went very bad.

When I was in junior high and high school, there was no need for campus security. The worst weapon used in a fight at school was a platform shoe. But what progress we've made since the '70s.
6.11.2007 12:33pm
George Lyon (mail):
Davel said: "Someone facing a gun is likely to know that 1) the officer has been trained _not_ to fire as often as to fire; 2) the officer (if trained properly) is less likely to shoot to kill." Are you serious? If you've ever had even an unloaded gun (and every gun should be considered always loaded) pointed at you, you would never say that. The pucker factor is very real and you get very uncomfortable real fast.
6.11.2007 4:32pm