Guns on College Campuses: Protective Measure or Dangerous Catalyst?

At least a dozen states, with Arizona at the forefront, are currently pondering the controversial idea of allowing guns on college campuses. Lawmakers, college students and other big-thinkers are taking the debate of gun control on campus very seriously.

Advocates argue that zoning schools as gun-free provides a deranged psychopath with an all-too-easy target. In the right (or rather, wrong) state of mind, someone may view a campus of unarmed students as vulnerable and weak. Theoretically, students and faculty would have a better chance of protecting themselves and each other if they were armed. It may also deter mentally unstable individuals from initiating an attack if they know that teachers or students could fire back. I believe the saying goes, “an armed society is a polite society.” Arizona State Representative, Jack Harper, says “When law-abiding, responsible adults are able to defend themselves, crime is deterred.” There’s something to be said for self-defense and the preservation of life but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the Wild West. Fighting violence with violence may not be the answer.

Widely circulated petitions affirm that the majority of staff and students are opposed to the bills proposed in Arizona. Critics claim that campuses should be a safe-zone, where law-abiding citizens leave their firearms out of the picture. At that point, identifying a criminal becomes easier and school shootings will remain a rare occurrence. A catastrophic event was recently avoided in Phoenix when a student brought a peer’s gun possession to the attention of school officials. It makes perfect sense that the very presence of a gun alerted someone that this person was up to no good, which prevented a much more grave situation.

Two school massacres stand out in my memory: Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007. When I recall where I was when hearing of these shootings, I feel pain for the victims and their families, as I did when they happened. I also remember the frightening realization that the same thing could happen at my school. That part of me, the sad and frightened part, wants so desperately to find a way to protect students at school. The other part of me knows that the answer is anything but simple. Will we find the answer with less gun control or will it only create more opportunity for devastation? Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” Words of wisdom, surely, but are they relevant to cases of such clear cut self-defense?

Via The New York Times

4 Responses to “Guns on College Campuses: Protective Measure or Dangerous Catalyst?”

  1. PCB says:

    I often wonder if Arizona should have been allowed into the Union seems more like a near lawless territory?

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