Why Guns Won’t Make a Campus SAFER

Because I did not grow up in a culture that valued gun-ownership, it’s EXTREMELY hard for me to wrap my mind around why anyone would think a bill allowing students and professors to carry concealed handguns on college and university campuses would be a good idea. But that is the bill that is set to pass in Texas, and the law that already exists in Utah.

The folks who support this legislation claim that they are supporting students’ rights to defend themselves, and use school shootings as an example. Because, if one disturbed student has a gun and starts killing their peers, it would be great if one of their peers could whip out a handgun and start shooting back? Really, that’s the logic. The presence of one gun necessitates more guns to protect students from the danger of guns. WHAT? Again, I am a person who was not raised to associate weapons with safety, but I really struggle with the idea of a campus in which any of my classmates could be carrying a handgun as a safe campus. Especially considering the hysteria about alcohol on campus…you’re really OK with drunk students being drunk ARMED students?

I exchanged a couple of emails back and forth with a friend about the implications this law might have for campus sexual violence, and while at first I didn’t make the connection (in 2011, only 3% of reported rapes involved the use of a gun), further reflection and conversation connected some dots in a number of really uncomfortable, upsetting, and scary ways.

  • Scenario one: you go back to someone’s room, you’re making out and they start to take things farther than you’re comfortable with. You say no, but they’re really persistent and a get aggressive. And you know they have a gun.
  • Scenario two: you’ve reported a rape and the perpetrator’s friends know about it. They consistently follow you around campus having really loud conversations about how they have been practicing their aim at the firing range in town. You feel threatened and report the behavior, but even if administration finds that the students do indeed have a gun, they are legally allowed to.

As my friend put it, “the perceived threat level increases enormously while the ability to intervene drops dramatically.”

Proponents of guns on campus believe that the threat of violence justifies the presence of guns. By allowing guns on campus, the threat of violence is increased. Again, the flaw in this logic is pretty clear. If you live in Texas, reach out to your representatives and let them know you don’t think guns have a place on college campuses.

Cross-posted at Change Happens

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