Say what you will about Jim Alderden, Larimer County's no-nonsense, politically-incorrect sheriff, but one aspect of the man is indisputable: he's not afraid to make a stand for his convictions.
He proved it again this week. After the Colorado State University Board of Governors voted to ban guns and other weapons at the Pueblo and Fort Collins campuses, Alderden went on record with the Colorado Springs Gazette to say that he would do all he could to undermine what he considers a dangerous policy. That includes refusing to book otherwise compliant concealed-carry holders who are arrested by CSU-Fort Collins campus cops into his jail, and testifying on behalf of them in court.
He told the paper:
This ban, which is broad and encompassing, basically denies students at the Fort Collins campus any defensive capacity at all. It's a weapons-free zone for law-abiding people, and it won't do a single thing to keep armed criminals off of campus. It will only ensure them a lot of defenseless victims. The people who did this are lost in their own world of ideological liberalism. You would think people involved in academia would want to deal in data and experience, but this has been all about emotion.
The near-tragic irony of the Board of Governor's decision was that it was taken the same day a gunman opened fire at Deer Creek Middle School, injuring two children before teachers tackled him. It's a different situation, of course, because guns are banned at K-12 schools under state law -- but it serves to underscore Alderden's point. The suspect in the middle school shooting is reported to have heard voices and struggled with anger issues. That guns are banned on middle school campuses obviously means nothing to people who are unhinged and bent on violence -- why increase their odds of inflicting mayhem on yet another defenseless population, college students?
In an interview with the University of Chicago Press, author John Lott, who analyzed crime data for all U.S. counties from 1977-1994 for his book More Guns, Less Crime, argues that allowing law-abiding citizens to arm themselves has a quantifiable impact on crime rates.
Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate--as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.
These findings are in line with common sense. Clear-thinking criminals (yes, a contradiction in terms) will think twice before opening fire. Mentally ill criminals will hopefully be stopped by law-abiding gun carrying citizens with fewer casualties than if no one was capable of firing back. It's lucky that the suspect in the Deer Creek shooting was armed with a single-action hunting rifle, requiring him to retract the bolt and eject the cartridge after each shot. That gave the heroic teachers time to react before he could get more shots off. Had he been armed with a semiautomatic rifle or pistol, the carnage could well have been worse, because teachers might not have been able to get close enough to stop him. In that case, a well-trained citizen or teacher with a handgun could have been a lifesaver.
All that is hypothetical, of course. But given the choice, I'd rather be surrounded by gun-toting civilians in such a situation than not. The next time I'm on the CSU campus, I'll be glad to know I have a sheriff who agrees with me.
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