Professor Killed at UCLA, Should I Be Afraid to Go to Work Today?

I have a large backlog of posts I need to get to from my trips to the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo, the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, and the NRA meetings in Louisville. I haven’t been able to get to those posts, however, because as soon as I returned from my trip to Tulsa and Louisville I started teaching summer school.

I was preparing for class today when news of the killing of a professor by an (allegedly/apparently) disgruntled student (who also killed himself) reached me.

In this image made from video, police respond to a fatal shooting at the University of California, Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. (KABC-7 via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
In this image made from video, police respond to a fatal shooting at the University of California, Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. (KABC-7 via AP)

My first thought when I heard this news was to three weeks ago when I posted my final grades for the spring semester and started receiving the usual stream of complaints from students who thought they deserved higher grades than they earned. This happens every semester, and the cases are usually resolved by 1-3 emails from me explaining the grade.

But in a context in which increasingly entitled, increasingly medicated students feel increasing pressure to get good grades, I wonder when one of these students is going to “snap.” And I wonder what I will do if/when he does (in all likelihood it will be a “he”).

One option that is not available to me is armed self-defense. As a private institution, Wake Forest University has chosen to ban everyone other than police officers from carrying firearms on campus.

Here I take some solace in the fact that college campuses in the United States are some of the safest places in the world in terms of the risk of homicide victimization. I have not had time to look for national data on this, but in the 10+ years I have spent at Wake Forest, there have been 0 homicides on campus. And in the 6 years I spent at the University of Notre Dame before that, there were 0 homicides on campus.

Indeed, the fact that a professor was killed by a student is a notable news story is in part because it happens so infrequently.

Which is not to say that I don’t think about it, because if there is only 1 homicide ever on the Wake Forest campus and it happens to be me, the generally low risk of homicide victimization does me no good.

Nonetheless, I do try to put my exposure to risk in context. Much like when I went to Washington, DC following the Paris terrorist attacks last fall, I remind myself that I am PROBABLY safe going to work today, but not CERTAINLY safe. Driving to work poses a risk to me, as does my body mass index, consumption of processed foods, and generally sedentary lifestyle.

Of all the risks to my well-being I face today, being shot by a student is not high on the list. But it is on the list, which means it is something I think about and plan for. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.


  1. Under Advisement:
    (A) Females are equally capable of causing harm, as are young children who can pull a trigger (plenty of that took place in Vietnam).
    (B) Concerning body mass, etc., your mind is sharp and mentally do Tai Chi type drills as required with various defense modes you normally apply.
    (C) Five Point Draw, must be smooth, bring the arms and weapon up, into your normal field of sight, never lower your head to the sights.
    (D) Think of improvised and/or CQB. Grappling may be a reality. Your weapon has different striking points to open adversary brow lines to blind their vision with blood. Revolvers, have the tactical edge, as the crane/yoke 90 degree angle in front of the trigger guard, is utilized as brass/metal knuckles.
    (E) Enjoy each day. Enjoy your occupation. Your/our “martial art”, is akin to an insurance policy, which we all know, it is better to have it and not need it, than need it, and not have it. Always THINK.


  2. Hello Professor Yamane,Don’t want to keep you from your explanatory emails to disgruntled students, but I thought I’d try again to ask you whether it would be all right for us sometimes, with your explicit permission only, to repost some of what you write on Gun Culture 2.0.  Your position is like ours, gun ownership done responsibly is good.  You can see what we do at  We’re a national organization of health care professionals, mostly physicians, who disagree that “guns [and ‘gun violence’] are a public health crisis,” with data, analysis, interviews and testimony.  I like to think that rational responses like yours and ours may be gradually changing the tenor of the debate, as  gun control activists have had to pull back from advocating gun bans to seeking incremental restriction on the RKBA.  But it’s not over; it never is.  I wrote you a couple of months ago for the same reason and didn’t hear back.  I’m trying your college email along with the blogpost reply line.  OK if you’re not interested, but I wanted to ask once more since I’ve enjoyed your blog for some time.  Sincerely,Robert B. Young,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David: Do you really, honestly believe that if a student walked up to you, yanked out a gun and tried to shoot you because you gave him the wrong grade, that you would have the instincts, the training or the wherewithal to defend yourself with a gun in the 1.2 seconds in which the average, one-on-on armed encounter takes place? I don’t talk about this publicly, for obvious reasons, but I earn my living by certifying law enforcement and public security (military, courts, etc.) in gun proficiency because many LE organizations require that the certifications be conducted by someone other than a member of the particular department. And I can tell you that when we do the timed drills, which require a very generous shot placement (basically anywhere on a 9-inch circle at 7, 10 and 15 feet) within 2 seconds, that more than half the active LE personnel fail. So we let them do it a second, third or fourth time. And for a couple of the real e kind of ignore the clock. Because after all, the idds that they will ever have to use the gun are minimal and you don’t want to deprive someone of their ability to earn a living just because they can’t hit the broad side of the barn.

    But maybe you could do it. After all, you are something of a ‘gun’ guy; you like guns, you shoot guns, etc. Your faculty colleagues? Give me a break. So when you throw out the idea that you could ‘defend’ yourself if you taught at a university that allowed guns on campus, do you have any idea how unrealistic that is?

    I have been a member of the NRA since 1955, probably before you were born. And I will continue to attack the NRA and all their surrogates as long as they promote the idea of armed citizens without even a shred of mandated training. And why are they against mandated training? Because any mandated requirement would ‘interfere’ with 2nd Amendment ‘rights.’ Which is total bullshit. What it interferes with is the ability of the industry to sell more guns.


    • Mike,

      I think you missed the point of the article completely.

      The professor’s employer has made the decision for him that, if faced with such a scenario, he will die begging for his life.

      The gun isn’t magic and no realistic person thinks so. But it gives the user a chance to decide for him or herself how she will go down (fighting or begging). To me, there is a difference.

      Also, believe it or not, SOME teachers out there have had more training and have more skill than many, perhaps even most, police officers. I count myself among them. How else is it that students of Tom Givens have a 95% hit rate in actual shootings, while cops nationally have a hit rate at 20% or less?


      Liked by 1 person

  4. I support in and believe in an armed, trained, responsible public. All the “No Guns Allowed” signs and policy’s are not going to stop any even temporarily deranged person from doing something like that tragedy talked about in the post. And no gun law is ever going to stop someone from obtaining a firearm.


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