Guns on Campus

A while ago, I wrote in this blog about the Feinstein gun bill, and gun violence in general. Although this is far from the issues I care about most, I think, ultimately, it’s an interesting subject, and the debate is really important. The first piece I wrote for the ODU student newspaper, The Mace & Crown, was a rebuttal to an opinion piece another student wrote about allowing conceal/carry on campus. Although this version is much shorter than what I had originally ended up with, I personally learned a hell of a lot researching it and I think there’s a couple good knowledge nuggets up in there. It didn’t end up in the paper, probably because it was 3 days past deadline(which I didn’t realize at the time), so I’m posting it here…

Sex, Drugs, and (Gun) Violence: Some Things Don’t Belong on Campus

             “Teenage schoolboys kill 12 schoolmates and teacher.””32 dead at Virginia university, in deadliest school shooting.” “12 killed, 58 wounded in movie theatre shooting.””12 killed, in Navy Yard shooting.” Uncertainty, danger, and tragedy plague headline after headline. Since 2009 we’ve experienced about one mass shooting a month.

Story after story- troubled (young) male amasses large amount of ammunition, easily acquires several weapons, attacks random group of unassuming innocent people. The shocks become irkingly less intense with increased frequency.

 532 people were killed last year in Chicago alone- more than troops killed in Afghanistan in the same time period… but we are made largely unaware of this fact because, I fear, our society has accepted it. The inner-cities, the impoverished urban areas- that’s where it’s “supposed to happen.” Not prestigious college campuses, or shopping malls, or elementary schools in Connecticut, or military bases in Texas.

But the reality of gun violence is bigger than headlines, more complex than one-liners, and will not condense into cheap sound bites.

The argument has been made that we should allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus, or at least keep them locked up in their dorms or vehicles.

I disagree with this sentiment. it’s too easy to get a conceal-carry permit and even easier to get a gun; and even if it were only small a minority of gun-carrying students that didn’t strictly adhere to firearm safety and storage, there’s too big of a risk for careless accidents, especially in the midst of alcohol and other substances, which are prevalent in college culture.

I’m not one to blanketly condemn others for experimenting with, or even abusing, illegal substances and/or alcohol, but we should limit our means to maim and kill ourselves as best we can in such scenarios. For many of us, this is a time of finding and establishing our limits, a time rife with uncertainty, with mistakes, and with accidents.

One of the biggest misconceptions about college campuses, is that they are inherently more prone to mass shootings, because they are “gun-free zones.” The first fallacy to point out in this myth is that gun-free zones are not more prone. According to a recent study by the group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in the last four years, less than a quarter of mass shootings have taken place in gun-free zones. The second myth is that shooters specifically target these places strictly because there are no guns there. The magazine, Mother Jones, points out as part of an on-going, “in depth investigation” into mass shootings, that of the 62 events over the last 30 years, “not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns.” In fact in the majority of cases, the killer chose the place clearly based on a connection to it- a school they were, or had once, attended, a workplace they had been wronged in, a place of worship for which they harbored deep-seated hatred, etc.

In his opinion piece, Sobey brings up the instance of the Virginia Tech tragedy as a failure of the school to allow students to defend themselves. While an armed student may have been able to take down the shooter, saving lives, in fact not one of the 62 past mass shootings were stopped this way. Even in the other three examples he cites of gun-wielding civilians stopping shootings, Sobey fails to mention that in each case the shooter was stopped by either military personnel or current or former law enforcement- not employees and run-of-the-mill students, not to mention completely untrained, incompetent, gun-wielding students.

Tim Murphy recently wrote a piece for Mother Jones titled “How I got Licensed to Carry a Concealed Gun in 32 States Without Even Trying: I was clueless, hungover, and totally worthless with a firearm. Four hours later I was officially qualified to pack heat.” The title alone gives a pretty good summary of the article, in which Murphy details exactly how easy the process is, even for someone that knows nothing about guns. He can’t even properly load bullets into the magazine and yet the conceal-carry permit he received is valid in this state, and would allow him to carry an improperly-secured, loaded, unsafety-ed, handgun onto this campus, if we decide to allow guns. If you believe this campus should give up its “gun-free”dom, perhaps your first concern should be increasing regulations and restrictions- making sure only those with extensive training are allowed to wear guns on their hips…

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