As noted in an earlier post, guns are inseparable from American culture. As the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby rallies its pro-gun followers, it’s easier now than ever before for an average citizen to purchase a lethal weapon. This is a very problematic and disturbing trend in America, one that has reached new heights as more and more states now permit universities to allow students and professors to carry concealed handguns on campus.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, five states permit students by law to carry concealed guns on public college campuses, an increase of four states over the past two years. The push to allow guns on campus was sparked after a 2007 Virginia campus shooting. Those in favor of carrying weapons on campus cite that they want safer campuses, which allow students to protect themselves.
Personally, I see several problems for allowing guns to be carried on college campuses. For one, college students are young, typically ranging from the ages of 18 to 22. It’s a scientifically proven fact that children this young are not completely emotionally mature. Of course, maturity levels are different for different individuals, but college-age students as a whole are not completely able to assess risk and control compulsions. This is precisely why college campuses are known for drugs, binge drinking, and unprotected sex. Allowing college students to carry lethal weapons on campus means that a serious, fatal incident is only one accident away.
Even if college students are very careful and responsible in their use of guns, there are situations that could drive a student to consciously use a gun violently. Being a student, especially in a very competitive atmosphere like many college campuses across America, is very stressful. What if a student were to get a grade in class that she’s not happy with? American students usually petition their professors for better grades, but allowing guns on campus empowers students to threaten their professors, as former college professor Bill Maxwell notes here.
Most of all, what I cannot fathom is the prime argument in favor of allowing students to carry guns on campus. Supposedly, allowing students to come to class armed will keep the campus safer. The logic goes that if a student is accosted by a violent individual, they’ll be able to protect themselves or save the day if a mass shooting were to occur.
I’ve never heard more irrational tripe in my life.
What most “pro-gun” people don’t understand is that it takes years of training and a very steady mindset to be able to aim and shoot someone. I would venture to say that most people who carry guns have not received more than a few weeks worth of training, and that too at a gun range with no people and no nervousness involved. They’ve never been in a dangerous situation confronted by another armed combatant. As happened recently in a shooting in New York City, even trained policeman shot innocent people and made mistakes. What makes you think you’d be some sort of hero if your campus were under siege? And what makes you think that you wouldn’t be lead by fear and anxiety, something that makes people trigger-happy enough to shoot indiscriminately, in the process hurting or even killing innocent people?
Young students carrying guns only creates a culture of violence and fear; it doesn’t make campuses safer. What makes campuses safer is a well-trained security force, one that’s responsive and can quickly identify problematic and potentially violent individuals.
Let’s stop this gun-obsessed madness.
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blogger with a life-long interest in educational trends and reform. She also enjoys writing about technological advances in the classroom. You can find more of her writing on her online degrees blog. Maria welcomes your comments below!