http://www.athensnews.com/issue/article ... y_id=28162
N.C. prof says tragic event turned around his outlook on guns
By Emily Mullin
Athens NEWS Campus Reporter
A criminology professor from North Carolina last Thursday told an Ohio University audience how a personal tragedy jolted his political assumptions and persuaded him to abandon his long-held anti-gun position.
"The thing that began to drive me away from that position was actually a very tragic event," Mike Adams said of his former liberal, gun-control beliefs.
As a part of Firearms Awareness Week, the Ohio University Second Amendment Club hosted Adams, a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a regular columnist for conservative news and opinion Web site Townhall.com.
His speech, entitled "The Failures of Gun Control," differed from Adams' usual lectures. It was the first time that he was asked to give a speech specifically on the Second Amendment. Last year at OU he spoke on freedom of speech and the First Amendment.
But rather than criticizing gun-control supporters as the title of the speech suggested, Adams gave an account of how his political views have dramatically changed over the years - all rooted in his perspective on guns.
Back in his college days, Adams described himself as a "liberal Democrat," an atheist, and an advocate of a total ban on firearms.
In 1993, Adams recounted, a fraternity brother was going out to his car with his girlfriend after a party. Walking across the street from the fraternity house, they realized that a man was trying to break into the car. His friend's girlfriend, having had one too many drinks, approached the man and "gave him a piece of her mind," Adams recalled. The man pulled out a gun and demanded that the two get in the car and drive him out of town. After driving 10 miles away, the man ordered them out, shot and killed them both, then drove away.
Adams said he used to drive past the murder site every Thursday and think about what could have prevented such a tragedy from happening.
"I thought, what the heck is going to happen to me?" he said, reminiscing about the fate of his old friend.
In college, Adams said he often felt "detached from reality" but that "tragic events can help wake us up."
Despite supporting a gun ban in his youth, Adams said he believes that even if legislation were passed to ban handguns, guns would not disappear. Rather, he said, they would end up in the hands of criminals instead of law-abiding citizens using firearms for self-defense and property protection.
A few years later, Adams decided to buy his first gun. He had moved into a new house in a bad area of town where crime was high, prostitutes roamed the neighborhood, and a crack house sat across the street.
Adams said sometimes the noise at night was overbearing and he and a few neighbors would take turns calling the police. After receiving no response, Adams and other residents received permission to set up an operation to expose the suspected felons. Finally the police had enough information to obtain a search warrant. Shortly afterwards, 18 people in the house across the street from Adams were arrested for illegal drugs.
After that, Adams said he came to the realization that "police cannot police society." He bought his first gun and acquired a concealed-carry permit. Owning a firearm gave him a peace of mind "not that the government will take care of me, but that I will take care of myself," he said. Since then, Adams added, owning a gun has influenced his "entire worldview."
Adams said he developed an individual mindset while learning about guns from people who were more educated on the subject than himself. He has been asked by many critics if he believes everyone should own a gun. Adams said that he thinks if a person is serious about having a firearm on the premises for self-defense or protection of property, that person should take the necessary steps to become educated about guns. Other intentions, he acknowledged, are not "constructive."
In his criminology classes at UNC Wilmington, Adams said he prefers to "teach from reality, not from books." His classes frequently discuss crime statistics and how such statistics do not accurately represent the number of crimes that actually occur. While the United States may "wildly underestimate crime rates," he maintained that our country does a better job than other nations when it comes to reporting crime. Because of this, Adams said our national statistics cannot be used in cross-cultural comparisons. It is important to examine each country individually, he said.
This may be a reference to widely cited statistics showing the U.S. with far more reported gun crimes and deaths than many first-world countries with more limits on gun ownership and use.
Adams concluded his speech by saying that if more responsible, law-abiding citizens carried firearms, "we can produce a significantly safer society."
Adams has written a book, "Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel," and expects his second out in November.