It would be much like the Wild West – students coming and going from class packing .44-caliber Magnums and .38-caliber Specials.
There would be nothing preventing accidental shootings, and security on campus would be completely compromised. Despite these facts, there is a group of students across the nation that is lobbying for students over the age of 21 with a gun license to be able to carry concealed weapons onto their college campuses.
When I saw the headline article revealing this movement on CNN’s Web site, I was immediately taken back. In the article, Michael Flitcraft, a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati and leading advocate and organizer of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, espoused his belief that it is the right of students who can legally carry weapons off campus to be able to protect themselves on campus as well.
“Would you rather just sit there and cower underneath a desk when someone executes you or would you rather have a chance to defend your life? That’s what it really boils down to,” Flitcraft said in the article. According to the article, the group has been picking up steam around the nation, along with legislators in at least nine out of 50 states considering laws that would make it legal for students to carry guns onto campus.
Utah is the only state that allows guns on the campuses of all public universities. Colorado also allows students to carry guns, except at the main university in Boulder. So the idea that legislation could eventually be passed allowing this to happen is not too far off base.
The question ultimately becomes whether allowing students to bring loaded weapons with the intent to kill those they perceive as being a threat to their safety on campus is the only way to prevent school shootings. The article quoted Gene Ferrara, the police chief at the University of Cincinnati where Flitcraft goes to school, saying that the key to protecting yourself from a school shooting is by focusing on preventing the shooting in the first place.
“I don’t think the answer to bullets flying is to send more bullets flying,” Ferrara said in the article.
According to the article, since the 1966 Texas Tower shootings at the University of Texas, there have been a dozen shootings on college campuses and universities. Despite the fact that it has been almost 42 years since the original UT shooting, this number seems very high, especially when considering that many of them have occurred in the past decade or so.
School shootings are one of the most terrifying things that could happen for most college students. The threat is real, and students need to be more aware of what is going on around them, but that doesn’t mean students should be allowed to bring guns to campus. Ferrera said in the article that the best way to prevent a school shooting is by providing students a safe and anonymous way to report suspicious actions they see on campus.
“All of the research shows someone knew before the shooting started that the shooting was going to happen,” Ferrera said in the article.
Students need to become more alert and more willing to report behavior they find suspicious. The idea that someone else will catch it or deal with it is what gets campuses into serious situations, such as school shootings. Flitcraft and his group are planning a protest later this month where they will wear empty holsters to class.
Quite frankly, this is more terrifying than helpful. As a student, the last thing I want to see on campus is even the hint that someone might have a gun. There’s nothing that could prevent someone carrying a gun for protection from killing someone innocent. Any student knows that school can get pretty tense near the end of the semester; the last thing any college campus needs is a bunch of students running around with guns with the stress of finals on their shoulders.
Just because someone carries a gun in self defense doesn’t mean he or she is any less capable of losing control of his or her emotions and turning that gun on someone innocent.
Be reasonable; if you see something suspicious on campus, tell someone you know will take care of the situation. Take the initiative to protect yourself by using common sense.
Andrew Young is a junior radio-TV-film major from Overland Park, Kan.