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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Ohio State University is still reeling from
the attack last week. A terrorist followed
the Islamic State playbook as he drove
his car into a crowd of students and
slashed others with a knife — 12 people
were injured. Fortunately, a campus
police officer was able to shoot the
attacker in a record time of less than two

University President Michael Drake took
this as evidence that only campus police
should be armed on campus. Police are
very important, but they virtually always
arrive after the attack has occurred and
they have an extremely difficult job
stopping terrorists — having a uniform is
often akin to wearing a neon sign saying
"shoot me first."

This latest attack raises a fundamental
question: Would you feel safer posting a
sign announcing your home is a gun-free
zone? Criminals don’t obey these signs.
In fact, to criminals, gun-free zones look
like easy targets. So why do we display
these signs in public places?

Some in the Ohio legislature are
considering whether to lift the statewide
ban on permitted concealed handguns at
universities. Opponents’ fears over this
are exactly the same as their fears about
the original permitted concealed-handgun
law, and they are just as wrong.

Today, 12 states have laws mandating
that public college campuses allow
permitted concealed handguns. An
additional 21 states leave it up to the
university. Prior to the early 1990s,
states allowing concealed handguns
didn’t have legal restrictions, and there
weren’t any problems on school property.

Permit holders are extremely law-abiding,
committing any type of firearms-related
violation at at a rate of just thousandths
of one percentage point, and most
violations are trivial. A study by the Crime
Prevention Research Center found that
college-age permit holders in Michigan,
Nevada, and Texas are at least as
responsible as older permit holders.

Over the decades, there have only been
five accidental discharges by permit
holders on university property. All cases
involved very minor injuries. None
involved someone other than the permit
holder getting hold of the gun.

Fears that students will become
intoxicated and misuse guns are
unfounded. However young people
behave in general, those who go through
the permit process are very responsible,
and in Ohio, only those 21 and older can
get a permit.

Other concerns about mass public
shootings are that permit holders will
accidentally shoot bystanders or that
police will shoot the permit holders.

In the dozens of cases where concealed-
carriers have stopped mass public
shootings in malls, churches, schools,
universities and downtowns, no permit
holder has ever shot a bystander. Nor
have police ever accidentally shot a
permit holder.

Since at least 1950, all but four public
mass shootings in America have taken
place where citizens are banned from
carrying guns. In Europe, every mass
public shooting has occurred in a gun-
free zone. And Europe is no stranger to
mass public shootings. It has been host
to three of the four worst K-12 school
shootings and, in the past eight years, a
per-capita casualty rate 50 percent
higher than the US.

With dozens of recent cases where
permit holders stopped what clearly
would have become mass public
shootings, unsurprisingly killers try to
avoid resistance.

Earlier this year a young Islamic State
sympathizer planned a shooting at one of
the largest churches in Detroit. In a
wiretap, the FBI recorded why he picked
the church: “It’s easy, and a lot of people
go there. Plus people are not allowed to
carry guns in church. Plus it would make
the news.”

These killers might be crazy, but they
aren’t stupid. They want to kill as many
people as possible. Killers consistently
pick defenseless targets where they know
no one will have a gun. Just look at the
2015 Charleston, S.C., church shooting,
the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora,
Colo., and the 2015 attack in San
Bernardino, Calif.

In late 2013, Interpol Secretary General
Ron Noble warned, even with
“extraordinary security,” it was virtually
impossible to keep weapons out of soft
targets and that means that only the
terrorists will have weapons.

Gun-free zones are magnets for
murderers. Even the most ardent gun-
control advocate would never put “Gun-
Free Zone” signs on their home. Let’s
stop putting them elsewhere.

• Lott is the president of the Crime
Prevention Research Center and the
author of "More Guns, Less Crime"
(University of Chicago Press, 2010).
Should Ohio's universities be
able to authorize
concealed-carry on campus?

By John R. Lott, Jr.
President of Crime Prevention
Research Center
- CPRC was founded
by Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., an economist
and a world recognized expert on guns
and crime.  Lott has held research or
teaching positions at various academic
institutions including the University of
Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton
School of the University of Pennsylvania,
Stanford University, and Rice University,
and was the chief economist at the
United States Sentencing Commission
during 1988-1989. He is currently a
contributor to The Hill newspaper and a
Fox News columnist.  He holds a Ph.D. in
economics from UCLA.

Lott is a prolific author for both academic
and popular publications. He has
published over 100 articles in peer-
reviewed academic journals and written
nine books, including “More Guns, Less
Crime,” “The Bias Against Guns,” and
“Freedomnomics.” His most recent books
are “Dumbing Down the Courts: How
politics keeps the smartest judges off the
bench” and “The War on Guns.”

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman noted:
“John Lott has few equals as a perceptive
analyst of controversial public policy
issues.” He has been one of the most
productive and cited economists in the
world (during 1969 to 2000 he ranked
26th worldwide in terms of quality
adjusted total academic journal output,
4th in terms of total research output,
and 86th in terms of citations). Among
economics, business and law professors
his research is currently the 28th most
downloaded in the world. He is also a
frequent writer of op-eds.

Lott can be reached at
John R. Lott,Jr.
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