The United States is a nation living in denial, completely oblivious and willfully ignoring the reality of violence.
Fortunately, not all Americans choose to live in this state of denial. David McElwee and Bill Sandlin, two gun rights advocates and members of the National Rifle Association, took their case in favor of concealed handguns on high school campuses before the Arlington ISD school board this past week. The board, however, showed no interest to McElwee and Sandlin’s proposal on Friday.
The goal was to allow licensed administrators and teachers to carry their weapons on their person at all times in school, a measure that is long overdue and should be expanded to include college campuses as well.
Despite the unspeakable tragedies of Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007, this measure inevitably got buried underneath some pro-gun control agenda or fear about firearms, as before.
First, this is not an issue of who should be allowed to carry concealed handguns in school environments. The answer to this question has always been individuals licensed by the state, which can include teachers, administrators, and yes, even college students. In Texas, these individuals must be more than 21 years old and have completed background checks, fingerprinting and a live-fire test and evaluation. This is an issue of where license holders would be allowed to carry guns, which should be expanded to include schools, an atmosphere that has proven to be one of the most vulnerable.
Those licensed by the state possess the right to protect themselves. Gun control laws only apply to law-abiding citizens, and those currently in place have stripped these citizens of their right to defend themselves in a place that has needed it the most.
Contrary to popular belief, allowing concealed weapons on campus would not diminish a healthy learning environment. Ask anyone when he or she last noticed someone carrying a handgun in a grocery store or in a movie theatre. The word “concealed” is included in Texas handgun laws for a reason, and no one should be able to discern its existence. Those who are not afraid to go into the grocery store because the guy buying lettuce might be carrying a legal handgun should likewise not be afraid to go to school for the same reason.
Secondly, we need to let people be who they are. Most individuals continue to deny the threats of violence. Pretending it does not exist does not make it disappear.
Others recognize this threat of violence and have moved to prepare for it, taking measures such as obtaining a concealed handgun license. No one is suggesting that these citizens would become vigilantes on campuses; rather they would be carrying their weapons for personal protection. It is illogical and insulting that they are denied this right in a high-risk area.
Even though college campuses are considered statistically safer than surrounding areas, and while it is true that school shootings are rare, these areas still play host to a large variety of other types of violent crimes, such as rape and assault. In a free society, there is no legitimate reason to refuse a right such as self-defense by a licensed handgun holder in a place where it has the potential to do more good than harm.
I am much more concerned with someone carrying a weapon illegally at a school than I would be with one of my classmates legally carrying one. But this does not seem to be the popular opinion in public debate.
Ultimately, citizens are responsible for their own protection in whatever environment they are in. The police are great at what they do, but they are mainly reactionary, as there are not enough officers to be 100 percent proactive.
Let people be who they are. If someone wants to live in denial, fine. But let those who realize the threat of violence take the appropriate measures, especially in the most vulnerable of environments.
Shane Rainey is a senior chemistry major from Fort Worth.