New firearm laws: guns on campuses?

Alan Duff

When attending a university, a number of things are commonly expected: a solid education, odd classmates and esoteric lectures. However, students carrying guns around campus isn’t something many would ever anticipate or want. So when I heard the announcement that the state senates of both Texas and Arizona were considering passing new bills that would allow students to carry firearms on campus, I was shocked.

If these bills are passed it would make the states the second and third after Utah to allow the licensed carrying of firearms on college campuses. More importantly, these bills might set the standard for changing existing firearms laws in other states.

Advocates for these bills claim that — after looking at the recent shootings taking place on campuses around the nation, like the tragedy at Virginia Tech — it only makes sense to allow students to finally defend themselves. However, I don’t believe having dozens of armed and untrained students with guns would solve the problem.

The reasoning of the lawmakers that have proposed these bills can be divided into three parts. First, the age-old belief that armed citizens will be able to defend themselves from the shooters: Return fire with fire. Second, if citizens are armed then it will act as a deterrent to would-be shooters and prevent problems from ever starting. Their final claim is that it is a right of all citizens to arm and defend themselves.

Though I can see how some legislators have reached these conclusions, I disagree with them. Having additional guns at the scenes of shootings only make them worse. According to University of Arizona Chief of Police Anthony Daykin, multiple guns at the scene of the crime only makes it harder to identify and stop the perpetrator. How would the original perpetrator be stopped in a building full of people if several other students all grabbed their pistols and ran around the halls looking for the perpetrator — their index fingers twitching and ready to be pressed at the first sight of another person with a gun?

A gunfight could potentially result in bystanders being shot. I would rather everyone run and have trained professionals including law enforcement handle the situation in a coordinated and controlled manner.

I also find the argument that a portion of college students on these campuses carrying weapons on their persons will act as a deterrent faulty. In most recent cases, the shooters never worried about their own well-being; several shooters even committed suicide. Other incidents, like the shooting at Fort Hood in November 2009, occurred despite the presence of armed troops.

The final argument is that we have a right as citizens to carry guns. I feel this violates the spirit of what a college or university campus represents. These spaces should be for learning, not for carrying a gun. Private campuses have rules and regulations, and the state should respect them as well as the heads of public universities who have condemned the bills.

Allowing firearms on campuses would not stop shootings; rather, it would only make them more violent and chaotic than they already are. Campuses are also notorious for high drinking rates, and alcohol and guns have never been a good combination. Hopefully, enough voices will object to these bills before they are passed and we enter an era that makes state-sanctioned shootouts on campuses possible.