Campus Carry: Will Florida Legislators Do The Right Thing?

Woman Being Stalked (stock photo from Pond5)

Florida’s “campus carry” bill, approved by the state’s House Judiciary Committee on November 19,  would allow students who are 21 or older, and who possess special government permission slips (concealed carry “licenses”), to go armed on the state’s public college and university campuses. Pretty weak tea, but better than nothing. The legislature should pass the bill as soon as it hits the floor in January, then come back to improve it (by eliminating the age limit and the “license” requirement) as soon as humanly possible.

Yes, I just said that the bill, as written, is too restrictive. Neither violent crime, nor the inalienable human right to self-defense (which happens to have been recognized in the US Constitution for 224 years now as the right “to keep and bear arms,” with no mention of “licenses”), magically disappear when one crosses the line separating a college campus from the rest of the world.

And yes, I know some people disagree. But this issue is not suffused with nuance. One side is clearly right, the other is clearly wrong. Supporters of victim disarmament (they call it “gun control” to avoid the public shame and embarrassment involved in saying what they actually mean) offer a number of supposed arguments for their position. All of those arguments boil down to this claim:

“It is better for a University of Florida co-ed to be mugged, beaten, raped and strangled to death with her own pantyhose than for her to carry a hunk of metal that triggers irrational fear on my part.”

Did I say that one side here is clearly right and the other side is clearly wrong? Pardon me while I correct myself: One side here is clearly good and the other side is clearly evil, or insane, or both.

This isn’t complicated, folks: You can support the right to self-defense, or you can support letting rapists and murderers have their way with the innocent victims you’ve disarmed for their convenience. It’s one or the other, and there is no in-between.

If the legislature passes this bill, Florida will become the ninth state to partially and imperfectly step out of the fantasy world in which victim disarmers would have our children live — or, more to the point, die — as the price of pursuing their educations. Florida should have been first. Florida should go further. And the other 41 states should follow.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Paris: No Grave Too Warm for the Political Class to Dance On

Arc De Triomphe

For a columnist or pundit, there’s no greater temptation than to get something written — Quick! Now! — about the latest, greatest, deadliest catastrophe. After all, if it bleeds it leads.

I felt that urge the night of the Paris terror attacks. For once, I resisted. I wanted more information. I wanted to see how the usual suspects responded. I wanted to see whether or not my own immediate assumptions and predictions would hold up before I held forth.

Unfortunately, my assumptions and predictions turned out to be spot-on. The American and European political classes didn’t bother waiting for the bodies to cool — or, for that matter, to even be counted — before commencing their triumphant dance on the graves. The attacks may have been unexpected, but they certainly weren’t unwelcome. The political class immediately pivoted from a pro forma parody of normal peoples’ heartfelt condemnation to special pleading for more power.

Within hours, prominent War Party mouthpiece (and former US ambassador to the United Nations) John Bolton rushed out a piece on “four important lessons we must learn” from the attacks. Predictably, “never trust John Bolton with any decision more consequential than ordering pizza, and even then be watchful lest ye end up with anchovies” didn’t make the cut.

CIA director John Brennan and his predecessor, James Woolsey, blame whistleblower Edward Snowden for the attacks. Snowden crashed the US intelligence community’s illegal surveillance party. If only state apparatchiks had all the unaccountable and unlimited power state apparatchiks wanted, we’d all be safe, see?

Who should we blame for the murder and mayhem in Paris? Of course — OF COURSE! — the evil individuals who planned and carried out the attacks.

But when the prescriptions of an identifiable American ideological tendency  — call it “neoconservatism,” call it “hawkishness,” call it “interventionism,” call it whatever you like — can irrefutably be observed to have culminated in the horror of 9/11, the quagmire in Afghanistan, the debacle in Iraq, the fiasco in Libya, the rise of the Islamic State and innumerable other evils, at some point we should stop clapping in unison with their blood-soaked boogie-woogie and cease trusting to their highly questionable wisdom for solutions.

Americans and our European cousins face a stark choice: We can stop letting our political classes try to run the world, or we can keep letting the innocent pay in blood for our politicians’ hubris.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Instead of a Column

While there have been a couple of scheduling changes (e.g. experimenting with Monday-Wednesday-Friday versus Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday columns to see how newpspaper pickup numbers are affected), we’ve been pretty regular with posting three columns per week.

This week, there are two columns. Why?

A number of columnists, organizations and sites gave in to the temptation to “strike while the iron is hot” and opine on the Paris terror attacks.

I think the topic requires a longer wait to get right. At the same time, I don’t see any point in writing about anything else, as no other signal would penetrate the noise around this topic.

So, the next Garrison Center op-ed will appear on Tuesday.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Director and Senior News Analyst
William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism