Georgia Campus Carry Year One

AJC TL;DR: 27 violations; no shootings.

Basically, the AJC says that some students seem to have some issues understanding this pretty complicated law and run into situations where they are in violation. They are unaware that concealed means it needs to be out of sight. (Some supporters really want Open Carry.) Some people are negligent, such as the people at UGA who left guns in gym lockers, the conference center hotel room, or at a bus stop. This is still better than Georgia K-12 school teachers who accidentally discharged their gun or left it in places for a student to find them.

Supporters, in general, want a simpler law that allows guns everywhere as the existing one is pretty complicated to comply with given all the exceptions. Opponents, in general, want it repealed. Faculty supporters of campus carry feel the law discriminates against them because they can carry in their classroom but not their office. Faculty opponents see themselves under a more severe disadvantage to angry students still developing their executive function in the brain.

Somewhat surprised the AJC failed to add a few related things from their own reporting:

It doesn’t really look like campus carry ended shootings on campus. Nor did it spur a Wild West constant shootout situation or a rampage of mass shootings. Students are still getting robbed near campuses. So, it made some students feel safer that they are carrying a gun. Well, until they are held up and someone steals their $500 gun.

 

 

Gun Intimidation

Me at the office where not allowed a gun
Me at the office

In my naive freshman year I was arriving at campus around 7:30am to get a relatively decent parking spot and only have a ten minute walk to class. I could arrive at 7:45am, but the walk would be closer to fifteen minutes. Plus, I could use the extra 20 minutes to study before my 8:00am class. What I failed to account for was the white female student who was arriving to campus about the same time and walking to the same building. Some days we were not in sync and I never saw her. Other days she’d be slightly behind. The days where she was slightly ahead became scary when the Campus Safety officer started showing up and placing himself between us with his hand on his gun watching me. The message was clear that the officer was ready in case of danger. But, I also suspect the officer used this to signal a message of intimidation that he would have no problem shooting me if there was a need. So, I would sit in my car until 7:40am and place myself outside the dangerous window of time.

It was a common occurance for me that Campus Safety officers would hold their gun still inside the holster while talking to people of color. African-American males would hang out on the Quad joking around the same as they might on their home front porches. Campus Safety would show up and order them to disperse while holding their weapon. The Quad was the only designated area of campus where students are allowed to gather. White students were okay, but black males must disperse under duress of armed officers holding their guns “just in case.”

When interacting with my white friends, these same officers never touched their gun. The message was also clear that the officers did not feel in danger around my white friends. This held true even when my white friends were antagonizing a visiting preacher and causing a very tense, uneasy situation. These were college kids looking for a fight, but intimidation was not warranted when the pale kids were aggressive.

This was not the experience with all law enforcement during the same period. City, county, and state officers who pulled me over for speeding or a not working tail light often did the same hand on the gun thing. An off duty city police officer would work security midnight to 8am at the Waffle House knockoff where my friends and I would hang out Saturday and Sunday mornings. He never did the hand on the gun thing for anyone that I saw. Even when belligerent drunks were about to throw down, the threat of using the gun was not suggested. When I asked about the behavior of officers holding their gun while interacting with others, he expressed concern about the threatening posture of it. Talks about what he liked doing the job was helping people and building a rapport and de-escalating tense  situations. He had the gun in case, but for him it was a tool for a very specific job that he would rather not cause.

When people talk about civilians carrying a gun, I think back to these encounters. The presence of a gun would make them more intense and dangerous not less. The officer would be more terrified of what I might do. My darker skin adds to the threat calculus. Enough so I feel like I would be more likely to be shot carrying than not. We are supposed to be safe by complying with an officer’s orders. Lately the citizen videos seem to show that is not necessarily the case. Tell the officer you are armed and have a permit might just make the officer more twitchy. They have the gun to use deadly force if necessary but the threat of deadly force is a tool to intimidate us unarmed citizens. It maybe makes them more confident knowing they could protect themselves against me if needed when I am unarmed. Having my own gun removes that confidence making it more likely that I end up shot.

 

Trayvon

At around 16-17 years old I did not have a car. So I rode my bike or walked anywhere I wanted to go. Store managers sometimes searched my backpack or my person only to find I had not in fact shoplifted anything. Loss control or security guards would follow me around the store. Neighborhood watch people kicked me out. Police interrogated me about what had been doing and intended to do. This pattern of distrust about who I am was well prepared for as my father raised me to understand it could happen not just “the talk” but ongoing pointing out to think about how about how others perceive me. He wanted me not to get upset because my anger would play into their hands proving I am dangerous like they assumed. Also, just obeying commands to get out of the situation could prevent things from escalating out of control. (Interestingly work’s security expert gave the same obey advice when police are looking for a suspect.)

Every time it was upsetting. Even today almost two decades later, in the back of my head I know that I have to avoid behaviors that will draw suspicion because I am likely guilty until proven innocent. It is better to go into a store wearing a dress shirt or polo with slacks than shorts and a teeshirt. If I take my phone out of my pocket, then it stays out until at the cashier where putting something in my pocket is normal. And while I may think of wearing a basketball jersey so TSA thinks I am black not potentially arabic, never ever ever wear a hoodie because that slides me in the direction of appearing to be a criminal.

This is why I feel sad Trayvon Martin‘s family lost him because a self-appointed neighborhood watch character armed with a gun decided to follow, then chase, then ambush this 17 year old kid in a hoodie armed with Skittles and tea. Nothing can fully repair this.

Zimmerman, Trayvon’s killer, said on the 911 call Martin was acting guilty of something. This was also the stated reason the store managers, security guards, neighborhood watch, and police stopped me at Trayvon’s age. Who isn’t when creepy people follow them around?

The whole thing smacks me of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 London. A guy leaves his apartment. Guys follow him onto a train. He tries to run from them only they turn out to be police who shoot him. His crime was both living in an apartment building under surveillance and attempting to resist people who did not look like police but were.

Resist? Get shot. Run? Get shot. Do whatever the people with the guns say and maybe live to tell a lawyer.

Last weekend, a female friend, described how she would not be willing to just obey commands. As a big black guy, I have to worry about keeping people from worrying about me attacking them. If provoked, then they are going to put me down lethally or non-lethally. For my female friend, she has to worry about rape, but she is also does not present the physical threat I do. We have two completely different perspectives. But I think we understand each other’s.

I don’t get it

Moon men == bomb threat? Well, I expected Aqua Teen Hunger Force to bomb when I first saw it. So, thanks to the Boston police this media campaign which intended to be subtle and inexpensive is getting a tsunami of free media coverage. No matter the outcome of the two guys going to prison or not, Turner Broadcasting 1 : Boston Police -4.