By SARAH CULTON
In the wake of a mass shooting in Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, many students have one thing on their mind: Guns. More specifically, Western Michigan University students have been questioning whether or not concealed weapons should be allowed on campus.
This debate is nothing new. In 2013, at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on college campuses in some regard, but not all passed. In August 2016, a campus carry law will become effective in Texas, which will require public universities to allow weapons to be carried by concealed handgun license owners. Michigan, however, has a ban on carrying concealed weapons on college campuses.
WMU students are decidedly split on the issue. After the shootings, students took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinions on how they felt about the gun issue. Others spoke passionately at a town hall meeting held by WMU President Dunn.
Those who are in favor of guns on college campuses believe that guns on campus would actually make students safer in the events of mass shootings. A website that is pro-guns on campus, called concealedcarry.org, goes so far to say that if any of victims who were over the age of 21 killed in the Virginia Tech massacre had been carrying a concealed weapon on their person, lives likely would have been saved.
This argument is flawed for many reasons. First, this scenario assumes that someone who is carrying a concealed weapon during an attack is thinking clearly. Fear makes people nervous and jumpy. Who is to say that someone firing back at an assailant would have perfect aim? What if that bullet hit an innocent party? What if paranoia gets the better of a concealed weapon holder, and they target the wrong individual? Are these questions the campus gun supporters have asked themselves?
Edwin Dorn, a professor at UT-Austin and former Army officer agreed in an article for the Dallas Morning News that more guns in a mass shooting would simply escalate the danger of a situation.
“I can think of at least one thing that would be worse than having a crazed shooter in my classroom: getting caught in crossfire between a crazed shooter and a pistol-packing neophyte,” Dorn said.
The “give everyone a gun” mentality is childish and, if ever fully implemented, would lead us back to Wild West territory. More guns on campus won’t make students safer. Colleges are learning environments, and need to be treated as such. WMU students don’t live in a spy movie where danger lurks around every corner. The chances of a student ever needing to respond to a situation on campus with violent and fatal force are slim to none. According to TIME, there were 23 shootings on college campuses in 2015. Out of the more than 4,000 degree- granting higher education granting institutions in the United States, the number of 23 shootings is incredibly low.
In short, students, keep your guns at home. You don’t need them on campus.