Friday, April 10, 2009

Bringing guns in classrooms back to the forefront

A few weeks ago, Supa posted that a Texas state legislator had introduced a bill making it legal to carry concealed weapons onto college campuses. This bill is meant ostensibly to give students and professors the opportunity to defend themselves against an armed individual assaulting the campus. I just read an update to this issue, and it looks like the bill is gaining a lot of support. The whole idea behind this seems very reactionary to me. I truly do understand the motivation to protect one's self and to protect others. But it seems to me this is the wrong way to go about it.

My dad is a retired military firefighter, and, thus, he knows a lot men and women who fought in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. My dad is also a staunch supporter of guns rights, and he initially supported this bill and wanted to various versions passed in other states. He then had a conversation with me and with a young man he worked with who had recently returned from Iraq. I explained that knowing my students had guns wouldn't make me feel any safer; in fact, knowing that anyone I come into contact with on campus could be carrying a concealed weapon legally scares the hell out of me. My dad dismissed most of my comments because, after all, I'm a liberal academic who is in favor of strong gun control. But the young man he worked with had come under heavy fire in Iraq, and when he told my dad he thought laws like this were problematic, my dad listened. This young man argued that having a gun in a situation like the one that recently occured in Binghamton, NY or the one at Virginia Tech isn't going to help people. As he said, he had been trained to use his weapon in combat, but when he was under fire for the first time, he and many of his soldiers were often so frightened and disoriented by the noise and confusion that it took them a few moments to react. Eventually his training kicked in, and he did what he had to do to survive in a war zone. My father has since revised his stance on carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.

Most people carrying guns onto college campuses are not going to be similarly trained, and most are going to be too frightened to "take out" the shooter. Sure, there is a small chance that someone with a gun could save a lot of lives in such a situation, but it seems to me there is great chance for more gun violence on college campuses if such a law is passed.

No comments: