Guns on university campuses

Here in Texas, public universities are trying to figure out how they’re going to comply with a recently enacted state campus-carry law so that licensed handgun owners can bring their firearms to campus. A small sampling of local news articles and websites on this topic:

And in the midst of this debate, I found the opportunity for a mathematical wisecrack.


I’ve used this wisecrack in my probability class to great effect, as the joke pedagogically illustrates the important difference between P(A \mid B) and P(A \cap B).

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For what it’s worth, here’s the version of the joke as I first saw it (in the book Absolute Zero Gravity):

Then there was the statistician who hated to fly because he had nightmares about terrorists with bombs. Yes, he knew that it was a million to one chance, but that wasn’t good enough. So he took a lot of trains until he realized what he had to do.

Now, whenever he flies, he packs a bomb in his own suitcase. Hey, do you know what the odds are against an airplane carrying two bombs?

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Two final notes:

  1. For the humor-impaired, I’m not referring to all gun owners as idiots. The only people I’m calling idiots are me and those that would slaughter innocent people (and these two sets are disjoint).
  2. Though it’s certainly an important issue, I have no interest in debating the wisdom of the campus-carry law on this blog. Rather, the point of this post was using current events to memorably illustrate mathematical ideas.

2 thoughts on “Guns on university campuses

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