This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, June 14, 2017:
schoolDeborah Ballard-Reisch’s letter to the president of Wichita State University (WSU) announcing her unexpected retirement certainly sounded reasonable:
Dear President [John] Bardo,
I am grateful for the amazing opportunity I’ve had for the 10 years I’ve spent at Wichita State University. Serving as the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication / Professor, Elliott School of Communication has been an honor and a pleasure. I have found dedicated colleagues, an administration supportive of faculty innovation, and motivated and engaged students who have inspired me.
But then she admitted that she had good reasons for leaving:
Sadly, after much soul searching, I have found it necessary to retire from the university effective July 1, 2017.
While I have found the support to engage in work that I believe has enriched students and communities, I find the climate in Kansas to be more and more regressive, repressive, and in opposition to the values of higher education including critical thinking, evidence based reasoning, global citizenship, and social responsibility.
I see this most clearly in the concealed carry policy that goes into effect July 1, which can’t help but dampen open, frank conversation, so necessary for promoting intellectual growth and an informed citizenry. Worse, this ill-advised policy puts the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff at risk.
Clear, open, critical discussion cannot take place in an environment of threat and fear. Knowing that people will now be free to conceal and carry guns in classrooms without training and without licenses can’t help but dampen the free exploration of ideas. In the current social and political climate, when civility and respect for diverse perspectives often seem to be in short supply, many people already feel marginalized and threatened. Guns on campus will make it that much more difficult for them to feel safe.
Although hoplophobia is not officially recognized as a mental illness, paranoia is. The first term was coined back in 1962 by retired Marine Colonel Jeff Cooper who wrote:
I coined the term “hoplophobia” in 1962 in response to a perceived need for a word to describe a mental aberration consisting of an unreasoning terror of gadgetry, specifically, weapons. The most common manifestation of hoplophobia is the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart from that of their user.
This is not a reasoned position, but when you point this out to a hoplophobe he is not impressed because his is an unreasonable position. To convince a man that he is not making sense is not to change his viewpoint but rather to make an enemy. Thus hoplophobia is a useful word, but as with all words, it should be used correctly.
Paranoia is defined nicely by Merriam-Webster as a 1) “mental illness characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur, usually without hallucinations,” or 2) “a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.”
Ballard-Reisch came by her hoplophobia/paranoia from her life experience, telling the president:
As someone who has experienced gun violence personally [she claims she and her son were robbed at gunpoint in 2014], I do not feel safe with guns in the classroom. I cannot do my best as a teacher … I cannot tell [my students] that they are safe to claim their voices, their truths, when someone next to them, who might have a different view, may also have a gun.
Efforts to dissuade would likely fail, as Cooper noted. Her mind is made up, don’t confuse her with facts. Facts like these: Ten states allow students to carry concealed on public college campuses: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. And where are the reports of bloodshed in their classrooms resulting from disagreements? As Kansas state Representative John Whitmer noted, there are more than 100 college campuses across the country that have had zero firearm-related incidents since allowing concealed carry. Heaven knows that if there had been just one – just one – it would have made headlines in every one of the mainstream anti-gun media.
For additional proof that Ballard-Reisch is, to put it nicely, an “outlier,” it is this: out of the 520 faculty members at WSU, she apparently is the only one quitting over the issue. The only other professor to bail because of the concealed carry law that allows students to carry concealed on campus beginning July 1 is from the University of Kansas, one Jacob Dorman. His mental illness is even more severe, pronounced, and obvious. In a letter of resignation that he sent to local papers, Dorman relieved himself of this:
Guns in the classroom will have a chilling effect on free speech and hinder the university’s mission to facilitate dialogue across lines of division. That stifling of dialogue will hurt all students, including the ones with guns in their pockets.
He went on to say that the presence of guns inhibits education:
Kansas will never secure the future that it deserves if it weakens its institutions of higher learning by driving off faculty members or applicants who feel as I do that there is no place for firearms in classrooms.
Kansas can have great universities, or it can have concealed carry in classrooms, but it cannot have both.
Dorman also suffers from delusion. He left to take a position at a lower-rated school that still believes that “gun-free” zones on campus will somehow deter violent crime. Ballard-Reisch on the other hand appears to have the resources simply to retire.
It turns out that Kansas’s concealed carry on campus law not only treats students as responsible adults, but also is acting as a catharsis: ridding the body of poisons and allowing it to recover before the poison kills it. It also creates open faculty positions that hopefully will be filled with other equally qualified individuals who have a healthier mental outlook as it relates to Kansas’ expanded recognition of personal responsibility among its citizens.
BearingArms.com: Another Kansas Professor Resigns Over Campus Carry Law
The New American: Hoplophobia is Curable