Though university administrators, student leaders, professors, and other stakeholders have made it known they do not want guns on campus, state Senator Ron Gould and company have made it known they intend to overrule them anyway.
Why? Well according to Gould and other Republican legislators, guns on college campuses will protect students. The argument goes that having 18 and 20 year olds armed with deadly weapons will help prevent a tragedy such as the one that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007.
You see, if students had been allowed to carry guns on campus, one of them surely would have been able to calmly and without harm to anyone other than the assailant, shoot down the gunman and save dozens of innocent lives.
Of course, most of us realize that if another 19 year old had been armed that day, it’s quite possible that the circumstances would have been too chaotic to do much of anything other than take cover. Since most of our college students have not had extensive weapons and combat training, most would not be able to disarm a crazed gunman without unintentionally hurting or killing other innocent bystanders. And even with extensive training, many shooting situations are not as easily concluded as those portrayed in the movies.
When my husband, a highly trained and decorated officer, was shot, he was one of three people carrying a gun that day. His murderer pulled a weapon and shot him before he had time to react. My husband’s partner, also armed and highly trained, would have been killed as well had he not taken cover. Innocent bystanders would have been killed had my husband’s partner not understood that firing rounds into a crowded street would have put even more people at risk.
The idea that simply arming as many individuals as possible will somehow keep us safer is just not true. If it were, this country, which ranks highest in gun ownership among nations, would be the safest country in which to live. It is not. In fact the United States has the highest rate of gun violence among nations with similar political and economic circumstances.
Pointing out that fact doesn’t make me anti-Second Amendment. Nor does it indicate that I somehow wish to ban guns.
As I’ve stated before, I’m a gun owner myself and do not want anyone taking away my right to own and carry a weapon. However, I’m also a pragmatist and understand that absolutely no freedoms in this country are absolute and all come with a list of restrictions, particularly when it concerns public safety.
For instance, I cannot write slanderous things about another individual on this blog, even if I really, really dislike the person. Nor can I carry a loaded weapon onto a plane, even if I’m a police officer (I’m not, but you get my point).
Though I attended college years ago, I don’t pretend to be an expert on campus life or the psychology of students. I prefer to leave that to those who do understand. People like campus administrators, student leaders and professors; those who deal with these students day in and day out.
This is why I find it so curious that legislators such as Mr. Gould would rebuke those warnings and instead push for a bill that goes against the wishes of those who would be affected by its implementation.
But there’s an even bigger reason why I find the guns on campus bill so offensive. It’s the fact that at a time when our legislators should be focused on improving the state’s education system and actively searching for ways to boost the economy and lift this state’s residents out of poverty, they are instead focused on writing legislation to fix a problem that does not exist.
The “guns on campus” bill does nothing to address the economic insecurities in this state and in fact increases the economic burden on colleges and universities. The bill, as currently proposed, would require colleges to install gun lockers in at least one entrance to every building on campus if they wish to keep guns out of classrooms, and there are no additional funds being allocated to cover this expense. So why do we need this bill?
Because it’s necessary? No. Because it’s prudent? No.
The bill fails to address any of the real problems our state is facing, provides additional cost burdens to colleges, and endangers a possible safety risk to students. This is not smart public policy but rather a political tool to promote one’s image and electability. And haven’t we had enough of that already?