Young people are not exactly renowned for their judgment.

We are, after all, talking about an age group that has to be told it is a bad idea to text while doing 70. Or drink alcohol ’til it spews from your nostrils. Or wear a T-shirt and flip-flops to interview for the office job.

So no, judgment is not their forte. Yet even they have enough sense to steer clear of the gun dorm.

You haven’t heard about the gun dorm? Well, back in August, the University of Colorado announced it was segregating students with concealed carry permits in dorms of their own on its campuses in Boulder and Colorado Springs. This, after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that struck down the school’s ban on people bringing guns on campus. So now, a student 21 years or older who has a permit may be armed in the dorm or even in class, though not, for some reason, at a school event requiring a ticket.

Recently, The Denver Post decided to count the number of young gunslingers who wanted to live among their own. How many kids had rushed to take advantage of this opportunity?

Let’s just say there is not a waiting list. The Post reports the number of kids who opted for the gun dorm is zero. A big, fat goose egg.

The paper speculated on a few reasons for this: Maybe there are not enough students with carry permits who live on campus; maybe students with such permits find it more convenient just to sneak their guns into the old dorm.

OK. But isn’t it also possible at least some of this preference for unleaded dorms reflects a happy outbreak of simple sanity? Is it too much to hope at least some students recognize — as the court did not — that an environment full of immature judgment, poor impulse control, overactive hormones, sexual rivalries, drug use and binge drinking is perhaps, not the best place to introduce weapons of mass destruction?

One keeps thinking that surely there has to be some middle ground that balances the rights of responsible adults to own firearms, with the need of a society to ensure that people who ought not have access to them are denied. But we will never get there so long as the debate is dominated by the sort of extremism Colorado exemplifies.

As has happened with conservatism generally, the gun-rights movement has lurched hard to the right in recent years, has alienated reason, ostracized compromise and fetishized guns and gun ownership to a point that seems psychologically unhealthy.

What was once a campaign to ensure the right of people to bear arms has mutated into a campaign to ensure guns at all times for everybody everywhere and to smack down those who would seek to ban them, even from places where banning them makes obvious sense.

In Georgia, for instance, they’ve been arguing over whether or not to allow guns in churches.

In Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, you can bring a gun into a bar.

And now, in Colorado, where a deranged man shot up a movie theater in July, and two disaffected teenagers broke the nation’s heart with a 1999 massacre at their high school, they say it’s OK to bring guns into the dorm.

An armed citizenry will help deter crime, goes the “thinking.” As if we were all living on the set of some old TV western.

But this is not Bonanza. This is a nation where shell casings crunch underfoot, children and the mentally ill have guns and there have been, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 60 mass shootings just since the attack on Gabrielle Giffords in 2011. You do not solve a problem of too many guns in the wrong hands with a policy of guns at all times for everybody, everywhere.

Maybe that’s the message of the empty gun dorm. And that suggests pretty good judgment after all.

LEONARD PITTS JR., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Readers may write to him via email at Leonard Pitts will be chatting with readers every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. on

(19) comments




Although I'm actually not one to push gun control. Its still very funny watch the th good ole boy network try to explain the bizare gun culture in the US.

I know a guy who has a mini-arsenal in a huge Dick Cheney sized safe hidden under his stairs. I love the guy but I myself just don't have a gun obsession. The pistol between my legs is big enough. I don't need a shotgun to alleviate insecurity. And I don't have a fear that the govt will and take over everything. But even if that make believe world came true no amount of stocked handguns, shotguns, and rifles is going to stop the American miltary.

For years I have been of the mind if Americans want guns, fine, have guns. Its a free county. But, if you screw up and your kid gets ahold of one and shoots myself or a friend. You go to prison.

The recent events at the Batman movie have given me pause but I feel this fight if for the next generation.

Liberals continue th win the culture war as we have since the Civil War. End of slavery, woman's voting rights, civil rights, gay marriage, pro choice, etc. This issue is a little different but it still falls into the culture bucket. If you look at the counter arguements provided below. Video games are to blame and comparing auto crash fatalities to gun violence is laughable. So if future Liberals still have the intellectual edge they do today it will be only a matter of time before the country as a whole makes some changes. But it will be awhile. We got plenty of other issues to deal with first.

Besides those same people who blamed Marlyn Mansion for Columbine gave Sarah Palin and some other Tea Party spokesman a pass on the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Gifford(Former AZ Congressman)


So if someone threatens you, you're going to protect yourself with your peni$.


Assault with a friendly weapon?


Careful JBug. You may be accused of going off half co.... :)


Would that "an environment full of immature judgment, poor impulse control, overactive hormones, sexual rivalries, drug use and binge drinking" could be isolated to one dorm. Unfortunately these human frailties are well distributed to the greater campus of human existence.

Madblogger did a masterful job of pointing out the error in much of Mr. Pitts' logic. I can't add much of anything to that. I think I do share some of Pitts' discomfort with some of the more strident rhetoric that comes from the pro-gun side. I am disturbed at the casual gun play in the video games that consume so much of the lives of our youngsters and fear that they are desensitized to just how devastating firearms can be to another one's person. I don't have any scholarly study to quote but I'm betting that the effect of Assassin's Creed or World of Warcraft is at least as unhealthy as Dirty Harry or other movies of its ilk. I'm not sure if comparing guns to automobiles is a very good analogy, but I know too many folks who probably shouldn't be operating either one. The problem is where and how to draw the line.

That being said, I am still in favor of keeping the second amendment's protection of our liberties. I don't know if I would get a concealed carry permit were they to miraculously become available in our shining example of a low crime haven (sarcasm font, where are you?), but if the experience of the other 49 states sheds any light (what a concept) I don't expect to see gunfights at the local Mini-Mart to become common should Illinoisans be allowed to 'pack heat'. I appreciate Mr. Pitts' column for generating some thought and pointing out a situation I was not aware of, but as Boone would say he shanked the bat on this one.

Disagree with me if you will..."Go ahead, make my day!"


I would take the gun dorm, even if I didn't have a CCW permit.


In regards to Pitts:

Young people aren't renowned for their judgement. Good job opening with a fact.

Having sense to steer clear of the gun dorm is misleading. You have to be 21 to have a conceal carry permit. Most likely you will be a junior or above, and be beyond dorms. However, those that still do dorm it, why should they separate themselves from their peeps just because they have CC permits (and be subject to those who would perhaps harass them for being part of such?) I don't see "homosexual dorms" being set up. Even if they did set up "homosexual dorms", would a homosexual feel at ease? Ok, scratch homosexual, what about Democratic Party dorms? I highly doubt that CC permit holders are scared to live among fellow minded armed people - for they do beyond college.

Not allowing arms into a sporting (ticketed) event is wise. Ever witness a Little League mom or dad going nuts during a ball game that means nothing more than the size of the trophy the kid gets at the end of the year? Ever witness school pride and how extreme they get? Sure, it's any ticketed event, but you know why that is.

Then Pitts speculates students don't want CC, and want to live in a non-violent world amongst their "immature judgment, poor impulse control, overactive hormones, sexual rivalries, drug use and binge drinking" and forego weapons of "mass destruction." Hello, somebody define WMD's again? Also, is he trying to say CC permits went down for 21-25 year olds?

He then talks about middle ground and people that shouldn't be allowed CC permits, but then cites Colorado's extremism as a fault. It isn't defined, however, given the context of the story, he is citing the fact that the University of Colorado offered segregated housing for CC permit owners. One college in two locations, making up a small percentage of Colorado's entire population, makes Colorado an extremist state, especially when it was the college that underwent a ridiculous experiment? Segregation was wrong in the past, and undesired in the present. Why would you move to the gun dorm when you're legally permitted to live among your peers?

Pitts misses the reason for the failure altogether. Almost all CC permit holders define themselves as law abiding citizens, and have underwent the training to be CC holders. Trust that a CC permit holder doesn't undergo the hoops and hurdles just to blast away at their fellow citizens. They could just as easily illegally conceal a weapon and do that.

Pitts goes on to say that the "right" has pushed people to own guns without the ability to reason or compromise, and contends that said people do so as a fetish and in a psychologically disabled state of mind.

He then dictates the limits of the 2nd amendment. While carrying in churches and bars is probably not the most prudent, it is up to the people who run such establishments. Trust, CC permit holders are not shooting up either.

The deranged man "James Holmes" did not have a conceal carry permit, nor did the shooters at Columbine. In the former, he did obtain weapons legally, and in the latter, they had a third party purchase the firearms for them, circumventing gun purchase laws.

As far as the 60 mass shootings since Gabrielle Giffords, how many were by CC permit holders?

Sure, there is a violence problem in America, gun violence at that. I contend that the majority of such isn't the result of licensed gun holders who have underwent gun safety training, and it definitely isn't at the hand of CC permit holders. The truth of the matter is, most gun violence is at the hands of people who have obtained guns illegally.

As far as Bob Costas and his comments, make no mistake, Belcher did not have a CC permit. Furthermore, it doesn't take a gun for a football player to kill someone - ask Nicole Brown.

Lastly, Mr. Pitts thinks CC makes America like the old west. What he fails to realize about the old west is that even lawmen were corrupt back then, and it was either shoot or be shot, for there was no sense of law and order. It wasn't called the wild east as well (even though corruption was present there too, however it was more organized) - but it wasn't the wild east because law and order was readily prescribed to whatever effect it may have had.

On all accounts, Mr. Pitts story is merely an anti-gun stance - and that's fine for him to have such a stance. However, don't sensationalize your piece on events that don't have anything to do with your cause, and don't speculate on the failure of one college in America for not being able to segregate its concealed carry weapon holders, especially when a CC carrier is older than half the students. If it's anything like SIU, 1/2 of those over 21 already dropped out of college. The other half probably don't live in dorms.

Maybe Pitts can do a similar story on dorm room tenants over 21 that have alcohol in their segregated alcohol present dorm rooms for the University of Colorado. In that story, he can bring up over 21 college residents without alcohol in their dorm rooms that killed people while drinking and driving, and blame it on alcohol possession in their dorm rooms.


Excellent post Madblogger!


"In Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, you can bring a gun into a bar."

I can not speak for the other three states but Mr Pitts is correct in that guns are legally allowed in bars by state law in Arizona. His point is a bit misleading......

I've spent quite a bit of time out there over the last 16 years because my mom and step-dad have retired to AZ. I have yet to be in one bar where the owner has NOT made the management decision to require all guns be checked at the door OR be completely disallowed on the property. The owners of the properties have made smart (in my opinion) decisions to disallow (or limit) guns on their property. That is their right as property owners.


Boone correct. We have to police or take responsibility for ourselves to. One problem I have with some liberals is, they are enablers.

Example, I have a 31 year old step son that is screwing up. My wife keeps defending his actions (or lack of actions) I keep telling her she is enabling him, by buying into his excuses. I tell him, Put the brown bottle down and get your butt back to work.
That is the main reason I made the decision no to drink beer anymore. I feel, I should lead by example. Maybe if we all lead by example, the excuses wouldn't feel so comfortable?


Gillsburgher - it seems that Mr. Pitts flunked logic. It does not surprise me, as he admitted recently that he was an affirmative action admission to his college.

Mr. Pitts admits that he has no idea how many Boulder or Colorado Springs freshmen actually have conceal-carry permits (open carry is legal in Colorado, so that's not the issue here). Since only freshmen are required to live in a dorm, and freshmen tend to be 18-19 y. old, it's plausible that none of them actually possesses a conceal-carry permit. Such permits are usually issued to somewhat older people.



To be fair, Leonard Pitts is a great example of how Affirmative Action is supposed to work. He would be one of the LAST examples to use to disparage the AA program. He's way beyond successful in his chosen field.

With that said, you are correct in that there's a lot of emotion in this week's column and just as many holes in his arguement. Pitts' is a hacker. He either hits home runs or strikes out. While I appreciate the point he's trying to make.....he missed on this one.


Come off it. I expected something a little more intelligent from you and that's despite your usual slant. When was the last time someone committed a crime with intent to kill with their car? Forget about the numbers. That's a weak argument. A gun in the wrong hands is lethal due to the mind behind it.

Now, Bob Costas. That caught me completely off guard Then again, when is a good time to talk about this issue? I remember to this day how I heard about John Lennon getting shot. It was on Monday Night Football, December 8,1980 . Howard Cosell sad, paraphrasing, "This just in. Former Beatle John Lennon. Shot to death outside his Manhattan apartment." That was one of those deaths where I knew exactly where I was when I first heard about it. Just like how I remember a few months later where I was driving to when I first heard Reagan get shot. Both by individuals who never should have had access to a gun in the first place.

One could say we've come full circle since then. The issue however is as much to do as the mind behind it as much as the proliferation and availability of guns in our society. Our gun laws are lax whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Let's have a discussion about guns in our society along with a lot of other things. The University of Colorado students made a choice to have some sort of discussion. So can the rest of us.



While I doubt that Bill O'Reilly is on your short list of entertainment options, you would have appreciated his interview of Bob Costas on Wednesday night's "O'Reilly Factor". Costas immediately defended Second Amendment rights but took aim at the gun "culture". By that, he meant this odd "cool factor" surrounding gun ownership. I have heard you echo that same sentiment here on the SI blog many times. Yes, I do actually pay attention to what you have you say and even agree with you a lot of the time. ;-) This is one of those points in which I do.

If someone posts this interview on YouTube, you should make an effort to check it out.


Haven't had a chance to see the clip but the interview I hear seemed even-handed. O'Reilly and Costas actually have good professional rapport. I read how he had John McEnroe and Charles Barkley on his NBC Sports talk show the other night. The gun issue came up. Barkley said he has a gun in his car. He feels secure knowing its there but hope he never has to use it. He's never had to. That's the way it should be with Concealed Carry.

Me I have no use for them. That doesn't mean I don't know how to use one. I just wonder why people shoot people over something as insignificant as ownership of a crock pot.


Here ya go MD. I watched the the interview again. This is a constructive 9 minute and 53 second conversation between Costas and O'Reilly. Some good takeaways to be had here.


Yep, another good O'Reilly interview! :-)

Good post MickeeD.


Every time someone who has too much to drink, or is driving way too fast it is criminal negligence. Someone intends to get into the car and drive, even though he knows there is a strong chance that someone will die as a direct result of that act. The result is the same as when someone points a loaded gun at another person and pulls the trigger. Someone probably dies.

If someone is concerned about saving lives, a valid concern, then look at where lives are being lost. Look at the CDC's "National Vital Statistics Report, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2011" Table 2. It lists the number of deaths by cause. Obviously, most deaths are related to complications of old age. The point is that people have feelings about what is risky and not, without knowing what the facts are. How many people are afraid to fly in a commercial aircraft, who would be just fine to drive? It is not rational. That is how they feel, but that does not make it mathematically correct. The most immediately dangerous thing an average person may do is get on a motorcycle. Per mile driven, they are so dangerous that it is unconscionable that such a product is allowed to be sold, when so many less dangerous products are banned. Smoking is more dangerous than motorcycles, as it necessarily causes death unless the smoker dies of something else first. An example of a less dangerous, but banned product is mercury fever thermometers. (you can still get rectal shaped ones on the black market, err, from vet supply stores, and use them orally, but don't tell the seller you don't have a pet)

There are in fact quite a number of murders in the US and I am all for doing something about it (quick and certain death penalty seems to work in countries that do it, not the joke in US states). For Pitts to pull out a tiny subset of that and claim it is a big problem is misleading. Gang warfare kills far more, and that is rooted deeply in dysfunctional families and failed schools. For anyone to claim that a law will prevent criminals from criminal behavior is foolish. Only the law abiding obey the law for the law's sake.


Let's do some math... 60 mass shooting since GG, I think that was January 2011. Let's round off and compare to all of 2011 and through November 2012. I really have no idea how many people died in those 60 mass shootings. Let's say 100 people, no let's make it unreasonable and suppose it were 500 people. So, we have 500 people dead from mass shootings since 2011.

Auto deaths are about 35,000 per year, so that makes it about 67,000 auto deaths over the same time frame. Mass shootings; 500 (less really), auto deaths: 67,000. Boy, those mass shootings are really dangerous, at a fatality rate of 0.7% of autos. Why would any rational person who thinks mass shooting risk is unacceptable not want to ban cars, which are over 134 times more dangerous? Even of the auto deaths, disproportionate amounts are by DUI and teenagers. Are you going to prohibit teenagers from driving? DUI is already illegal, as is mass murder. I guess laws don't really work on people who do not obey laws.

Over the same time period, something like 6,000 people died of drowning, a good part of which was in swimming pools. Where is the outrage to ban swimming?

Seems like Mr. Pitts flunked math.

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