Traffic in Mount Pleasant can be frustrating. Rage inducing even. But no amount of bumper-to-bumper misery merits flashing a gun menacingly at other drivers.
On Thursday, a man reportedly pointed a handgun at a woman who had passed him in traffic on Highway 41. Police haven't located the angry gun toter thus far. Perhaps if the woman had flashed her own pistol right back, the aggressive driver would have backed off in a hurry. Not likely.
But that's more or less the logic of student protesters who carried empty holsters around the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia last week, according to WIS-TV. The holsters are a way to protest the state law that prohibits carrying concealed weapons on public university campuses.
USC Students for Concealed Carry, which sponsors a similar protest each spring, said on its Facebook page that the renewed call for allowing guns on campus is in response to a rash of crime on and near campus. Three incidents, including at least one armed robbery, were reported within a week.
USC President Harris Pastides addressed the incidents in a letter to students and faculty saying that he would step up police presence on campus, including more plainclothes officers. The school also pledged to install additional cameras and call boxes in strategic locations.
But concealed weapons advocates say students should be able to take their safety into their own hands, and they have plenty of supporters.
State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, went so far as to propose legislation to remove the campus weapon ban in 2013. Fortunately, that bill failed to pass, but the Legislature nonetheless thought it prudent this year to extend the right to carry a concealed weapon into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
The argument is that armed good guys can help stop armed bad guys more quickly than police officers can respond. It sounds logical, but there's little data to suggest that it's true. And police are understandably wary of having to distinguish between good guys and bad guys when they're shooting at each other in a crowded area full of panicking students.
Besides, college campuses are generally very safe places compared to other urban environments.
USC's Columbia campus lies in the middle of South Carolina's largest city, and some amount of crime is to be expected. Even so, violent crimes typically number in the single digits each year on campus. Substantial police presence, a school-wide alert system and training students to practice safe behaviors are likely far more effective tools in reducing crime than allowing guns on campus.
Any attack on a college student deserves a strong response from the university's leadership, and the college administration and police have done just that.
So far there is no justification for expanding the presence of deadly weapons on public property where young people should be more concerned with learning than assessing potential threats.
As for the man who let road rage get the best of him, Mount Pleasant traffic can't move any faster.
Even with a gun to its head.
Notice about comments: