Steady. Aim. Fire. Everyone’s SAFE!

cowgirlgunsign1Only in America, friends! Or as I said last week:  “Jesus Mary and Joseph.”  (Actually, for several days the intro to that post read “Jesus Mary and Jospeh,” but I don’t have readers who love to copyedit my blog posts of the sort that Tenured Radical gets. Praise be!) For those of you too lazy to click, I’ll enable you:

A professor at Idaho State University was wounded in the foot on Tuesday when his concealed handgun accidentally discharged in a classroom where students were present, the Idaho State Journal reported.

The police responded to a report of a university employee who had accidentally shot himself in a classroom of the university’s physical-science building. They discovered the wounded instructor, who had an enhanced concealed-carry permit. The weapon was in his pants pocket.

The newspaper identified the instructor as Byron L. Bennett, an assistant professor of chemistry. The police said no other injuries had been reported and no criminal charges had yet been filed.

In March, Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter signed legislation allowing concealed guns to be carried on the state’s public-college campuses. The law took effect in July.

Arthur C. Vailas, Idaho State’s president, joined with the presidents of the state’s other public colleges in opposing the legislation. “When they passed this law it was bound to happen,” he told the newspaper of gun-related accidents on the campus.

I would say that this is like shooting fish in a barrel, but that’s probably making it seem too challenging. Several people notified me about this via email and Twitter, knowing that I’m 3 hours behind most of you these days. As commenter Indyanna’s subject line put it: “Well, that didn’t take long.”

As someone who also teaches in a concealed-carry state, I thought on the one hand, “well, at least it was a professor and not a student who did this.” The perp has terrible judgment, but it’s probably better than your average nineteen year-old. (Maybe?  And now he gets to be the a-hole who 1) brought a gun in his pants pocket to class and 2) shot himself in the foot! You know what we say about that, friends: awesome!!!) In fact, we proffies have not been the ones with the guns in recent campus shootings. And unless my uni is going to install metal detectors and Pinkertons at every entrance to every campus building, then “banning” concealed handguns on campus would be entirely ineffective. On the other hand: srsly? Is this your thoughtful, reasoned response as a scholar to concealed-carry rights in your state?

What do you think the students in that class should do? I think they’d be fully within their rights to demand to be transferred to another section or another professor. You better bet that if a student of mine brought a gun to my class and accidentally shot himself that I’d have his a$$ off my class roll instantly. And if proffies don’t have to tolerate that level of recklessness in our students, then why should students have to tolerate it in their proffies? It’s against the Prime Directive of education.

I suppose we should be grateful that Idaho State University isn’t hiring nine year-old Chemistry professors and letting them bring concealed Uzis to class. But the way things are going–in Idaho and in the rolling fields of the republic–I wouldn’t be surprised.

8 thoughts on “Steady. Aim. Fire. Everyone’s SAFE!

  1. n&m: I wish I had seen the original evaluations on RMP! Drat.

    And EngLitProf: Isn’t the PD aspirational, kind of like the preambles to the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution?

    Gotta love the commenters over at the Chronicle, who are about as rational and mature as the commenters at Mad Magazine. Jeebus.


  2. Well, I’m glad he and his students are basically okay (unlike the Uzi instructor, and his student). And I suppose this could be a useful incident to refer to should anyone ever argue that I’ve got some kind of responsibility to protect my students by arming myself while teaching (because this is exactly the sort of thing I’d manage to do if I tried keeping a gun in my pocket. The difference between me and Dr. Bennett, apparently, is that I know that without actually making the experiment).

    Also, I’m pretty gun-ignorant, but isn’t this the sort of thing that safeties are designed to prevent?


  3. This section in the Idaho State Journal article made me laugh: “King said officials assessed the situation Tuesday and quickly determined that it was an isolated incident. However if anyone on campus had been in imminent danger, a campus-wide alert would have been sent out.”

    I guess it depends on when you start the clock on “imminent.” The students would not have had many, if any, means with which to protect themselves. Perhaps one way concealed-carry laws may be challenged is through workplace safety laws.


  4. **Rim shot** for the Mae West joke!

    Hilarious use of the word “imminent,” History Maven, as though the interval of reporting a gun in class and communicating that information via text message to the whole campus is going to beat a bullet as it leaves the chamber.

    Like most of the rest of you, I’ve signed up for my uni’s text message alerts for campus emergencies. All they can do is prevent more people from showing up in a live fire zone. Sorry, Superman: they can’t in fact move faster than a speeding bullet.

    And CC: it’s good to know your limits! (Helps to avoid “winning” a Darwin Award, in any case.)


  5. “I’m sorry, officer, I was reaching for the candy bar. But that’s in my other pocket.”

    Like CC I know this would be a disaster, because when I’m. wearing clothes with pockets, I’m always fumbling in them: it’s my nervous tic. Absent-minded professor indeed!

    As for this poor guy, he got to be up for tenure soon. Between those evaluations and shooting yourself in the foot… But if he doesn’t get tenure, hey, he already has a concealed carry permit.


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