Leave it to police
The Virginia Tech shooting raised an outcry from gun control proponents as to why
Seung-Hui Cho, who was adjudicated mentally ill in a Virginia court, passed a background check and was able to purchase handguns online and from stores. This flaw in background checks has since been corrected.
To others, the response to the Virginia Tech incident was a call for more guns on campus. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is a national advocacy group that was formed to fight for the ability of students to legally carry a concealed weapon on a college campus for purposes of self defense. In Massachusetts, only police can carry guns on campus. Utah is the only state to allow concealed firearms at all public colleges and universities, while 15 others leave it up to the colleges themselves.
The two recent firearm arrests at the University of Massachusetts makes this issue worth consideration. While I support the idea of legal concealed carry for private citizens, I don’t believe it should be extended to school zones.
First off, I have full faith in the emergency response of the UMass Police Department. UMPD conducts very frequent patrols on campus. The Police Station is located relatively in the middle of campus and response time to any part of campus is rapid.
The emergency alarm system and the text messaging system in place are helpful safety measures, although I think it prudent for the administration to publicize a general campus safety plan to organize response and minimize panic. God forbid something more serious does happen. This could apply to students, faculty and administrators on all levels.
At Virginia Tech, Cho committed his first murders at 7:15 a.m. The first campus wide e-mail was sent nearly two hours later. Meanwhile, Cho returned to his room to gather his weapons.
Swift emergency response and proper planning, rather than armed students, would have helped in this case. Sensible controls on who can purchase a gun, like closing the gun show loophole, would decrease the black market supply and easy access to guns that arms criminals so readily. The answer on campus is not more guns; it’s less guns for those who shouldn’t have them.
Campus concealed carry supporters rally around an incident at the Appalachian School of Law as an example of how concealed carry by students can stop a shooter in the midst of an attack. Former student Ted Besen, who tackled the shooter as he fired his last shots contests this, telling the Associated Press, “I already had [the shooter] on the ground before they got out their guns”.
The possible negative repercussions of armed, albeit perhaps responsible, students on campus outweigh any benefits: The prospect of an accidental discharge of a concealed weapon, the possibility of theft in crowded dormitory settings and the obvious complication of on campus partying make the sudden introduction of guns ill-conceived. There are sometimes fights at UMass. Thursday and Friday nights occasionally get a little out of hand. The students being signed in shouldn’t be more heavily armed than the cadets we have here.
Moreover, the effect on community that concealed firearms would bring would be of obvious detriment. I would be rather frightened of my RA if she kept cleaning her .357 Magnum with her door open. I might avoid floor meetings. If I was that RA, I would be less likely to write up the loud party down the hall if my resident might have a Glock on his or her hip. Of course, I could never tell. It’s concealed. Life on campus is about meeting people and developing lasting friendships in a complicated time in your life. Guns shouldn’t have a major role in that, and it would be a detriment to that goal.
For these reasons, it seems altogether prudent to continue the campus ban on concealed firearms. UMass Police have shown their commitment to campus safety in the arrests on December 3rd and February 6th. I am quite confident in the campus police being in control of any guns and safety on our campus.
Dan Entrikin is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.