Saturday, November 16, 2013

Panic On The Ball State Campus

     The news was full of images from a circling helicopter over Ball State University last night, police cars from at least three different agencies (university, city and state) were littering the streets and sidewalk, armed officers leading crowds of students, even more heavily-armed ones going through a couple of buildings room-by-room, occasionally glimpsed via telephoto lens through a window or door--

     Had a madman mowed down innocents in a blaze of horror?  Were there, as early reports claimed, hostages?


     Was there an actual gun?

     No one is sure.

     What did happen was a student in the Rec and Wellness Center yelled, "GUN!"  And the the building got cordoned off, much of the campus was locked down and every available officer -- and the news media -- descended on the area.  After three hours of worry and consternation, nothing was found.

     Bank robbers of America and would-be terrists from all over, please do not take note.

     Much like happened earlier this year at IUPUI, when someone reported seeing a man with a long gun on the campus, the school was put on "lockdown," massive police presence followed and nothing turned up.  (There's been speculation that the incident at IUPUI was the result of someone quite legally securing a firearm in the trunk of their vehicle, but no one has come forward.)

     News coverage of bent half-wits mowing down unsuspecting students have resulted in this kind of over-reaction, with multiple police agencies combing through maze-like campuses and buildings.  Unless great care is taken in communication and coordination, sooner or later it's going to result in a blue-on-blue incident.  Students are no more careful of their words and actions than they've ever been and all it takes is for someone to want a little attention or get careless with a toy gun and--  wham.  Lockdown.  Staties and Officer Friendly and the Campus Cops stalking the halls with what one reporter correctly pointed out as "assualt rifles" and we can only hope their radios all have at least one shared channel and somebody's keeping track of who's where.

     ("Lockdowns" bother me, too -- that's what they do with unruly convicts at prisons, no?  OTOH, some BSU students were collecting outside the police barricades with cups of coffee, chatting with reporters and playing lookie-lou, so it's not quite a large-scale edition of the Stanford Prison Experiment, at least not yet; but save your Zimbardo faceplam, it's coming.)

     Big News Coverage -- of a big nothing.  A big needlessly-endangering nothing, reinforcing the lesson to college students that, should they see someone with a firearm, the correct response is to call the police and shelter in place.  Is that really what they ought to be doing?


Jess said...

I think of elementary school, where just about every young male student carried a pocket knife and high school, where it wasn't uncommon to find a rack with a rifle and shotgun during hunting season. Weapons were tools and young folks were taught to respect the inherit dangers.

Of course, things were different back then, but I can't dredge up any reasonable reason why things changed.

Buzz said...

Metroneutering of the American male is why, Jess.
Then again, why did that happen?

Anonymous said...

Reading this has given me a case of the vapors. I'll just have a bit of a lie down now.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"There's been speculation that the incident was the result of someone quite legally securing a firearm in the trunk of their vehicle, but no one has come forward."

I sure as heck wouldn't. You know they're just itching to find a charge to justify their massive response, and the guy who dared to have a gun on the anti's "sacred grounds of learning" makes a far better scapegoat than some schmuck who panicked over nothing and called 911. Especially after the press gets done with them.

Old NFO said...

I agree with Jess, having BEEN one of those with a rifle or shotty in the gun rack and a pistol under the seat IN HIGH SCHOOL!

greg said...

Ditto with Old NFO...I used to occasionally go to school with a .22 and a 7mm Rem Mag in the trunk, because otherwise I had to back-track past the school to get to the gun range after school, and THAT didn't make sense.

Matthew Carberry said...


Most places now do not have legal opportunities to hunt or plink available on the way to or from school.

The context for the open transport was having the opportunity to actually -use- the guns on a given day, it was never 'just because.' The context has gone away, with the transport itself following.

Absent those hunting and shooting opportunities to provide context for the transport coming back first, it isn't realistic to expect the transport to come back either.

Shermlock Shomes said...

Being both staff and faculty on the IUPUI for over fifteen years, I know our students. And while many are not necessarily smart, they are clever. I'm waiting for someone to think, "Hey, I'm not prepared for this exam! I could pull a fire alarm but they'll just shuffle us out of the building and right back in. I know what I'll do!" GUN!