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Let students bear arms

Editor’s Note: The incorrect spelling of the word “bear” was used in the original headline. Thanks to reader comments, the mistake has been noted and the headline revised.

In another unfortunate – but too well known – event, there was a school shooting at the University of Alabama Huntsville on February 12. Three people died, three people injured.

A decade ago it was Columbine, where 15 high school students died. Nearly three years ago it was the Virginia Tech Massacre, where one student decided to shoot his peers, killing 33 people. Last week, biology professor Amy Bishop attempted to kill a handful in the Heart of Dixie.

It would be comforting to say that these are the only instances of such peculiarities, but they are only a small extraction from the number of school shootings that have occurred in our country the past few years.

And for that, besides the unrelenting pain it leaves in the hearts of the families of the victims and survivors, it leaves a question of what should (or what can) be done.

The issue of gun control has been in the minds of many recently, if not a result of Michael Moore’s 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” which brought the debate to the surface in the wake of Columbine.

There is a problem, obviously, and that is the sale and distribution of unlicensed, illegal and unregulated weapons – and not just that, but the ease that some states have in the purchasing of such deadly toys.

There are ideals, and then there are realities. The reality is that there is a black market for handguns, that they ubiquitously flood certain areas, and unless impossibility occurred, they will forever be attainable by anyone who has the money or will.

The fact that people can get a gun if they want is an unfortunate reality, but a reality nonetheless. To say that, in order to prohibit future shootings and atrocities from occurring, we should make it more difficult to attain them, is naïve.

The Second Amendment originated for the protection of the rights of American citizens. It was for our protection from a corrupt and tyrannical government, if one were to ever occur; or from an invasion, if one were to ever occur; for the citizens to be able to live out Locke’s vision: the moral obligation to revolt and overthrow an oppressive government.

It was for the protection of people and their rights. It was not done as a show to express how free we were to the British, it was not symbolic: it was created out of foresight, and legitimate worry for the continuation of a free state.

This, of course, makes me wonder why we are not more stringent in our gun laws. While I could never buy one myself, I see why people should be able to have guns for hunting if they are actually going to use the animal for food or for actual purposes, as well as seeing the purpose in other areas as well. I do not see how people think they have the right to be able to own a gun for whatever purpose they have construed for themselves, however, if it does not follow this philosophical mindset.

Of course, the question gets posed, and the area gets blurred as to where the line for safety actually rests. Do delinquents have a right to protect themselves from other delinquents? Is it even possible for the citizens to take up arms against our government’s military in this age of nuclear weapons, negating the purpose of the amendment?

Felons can’t own guns; people mentally unfit can’t own them. Who should be able to own them is a separate argument entirely, and not one related to public safety and protection on college campuses.

For those fit, and legally able to carry guns, it is their right to be able to protect themselves and others. I would not dare tell a man he cannot keep a gun to protect his wife in children in his own home. I can’t see how one would be able to tell another they have no right to protect themselves and their peers when they leave their house … if they can do it perfectly legally inside their house.

There is the philosophical and legal basis for being able to carry concealed weapons on campus, and then there is the practical reason. People have guns, and if someone wants to shoot up their school, they will find a way. Rather easily, sadly enough.

The only precaution against this, besides an elaborate and most likely faulty system of precautionary text messaging and sound blaring, is allowing people to protect themselves. Allowing people to take action quickly themselves is the only thing that makes sense practically and philosophically.

Or you could try to fix society.

Benjamin Moriarty is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at bmoriart@student.umass.edu.

Comments
16 Responses to “Let students bear arms”
  1. Ed says:

    This actually happened. Appalachian State School of Law – a student shot someone and it was hunting season so two other students went and got their hunting rifles out of their cars and told the perp that if he didn’t drop his gun and surrender, they would shoot him.

    Problem was solved….

  2. Neo says:

    First thing, the title should be “Let students bear arms”, and not the typo “Let students bare arms”

    Secondly, colleges are competitive and stressful environments, where there are people with differing views, and other oddballs just as neurotic as the neuro professor.

    Throw guns into the mix, and instead of having a friendly disagreement, it can easily escalate into a shootout.

  3. AS says:

    Did the author really misspell “bear” as “bare” in the title or am I somehow missing my sixth grade English? If he did misspell it, I jus’ gotta’ say, “What a maroon…”

  4. beatbox says:

    “bare” arms? Really? from a college newspaper?

  5. Joe Cool says:

    I have a Class A LTC Firearms License. Under MA law, I can carry concealed pretty much anywhere in MA, EXCEPT campuses. Why should my right to carry be invalid on a campus even though I am properly licensed?

  6. Jon says:

    Why not have a compromise where in order to have a CCW on a campus the owner would have to register all relevant personal and weapon info with campus and local PD. Destroy the info after you graduate or leave school. And attend mandatory weapons handling/safety classes at least once a year.

    If you can’t spit out the five weapons safety rules in a single uninterrupted breath from memory then you shouldn’t be carrying one.

  7. Rob says:

    beatbox says:
    February 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

    “bare” arms? Really? from a college newspaper?

    Well, it is the Collegian…

    About this article, though, I am completely for strong but able laws to let citizens own guns. But not on a college campus. There are many reasons guns aren’t allowed in school zones and other areas, and I’m quite content with them. It’s similar to reasons why they aren’t allowed in planes, courthouses, etc. In the future I may own one to have in my house or car, but I would never want to bring it into a school area.

  8. Michael Foley-Röhm says:

    Agreed 100%. And kudos to you for citing the overthrow of an oppressive government as a reason for bearing arms.

    Neo, it shouldn’t ever become a shootout. We need to bring back duels instead.

    I am completely serious here.

  9. Big Jimbo says:

    Are you people crazy? Why do you need concealed gun permits to begin with? We’re in Amherst!
    I could understand owning a hunting rifle or something, because there is sport and history behind that. But concealed pistols are only good for killing people- are you such a shrimpy wuss that you need to bare arms to assert your masculinity? Don’t be a girl.

  10. Jarhead1982 says:

    Apparently the moderators wish to censor real facts so NEO, lets see you go to;

    http://licgweb.doacs.state.fl.us/stats/cw_monthly.html for Florida’s actual data on concealed carry holders.

    Identify how many of these people actually engaged in a firearms felony that resulted in harm.

    Divide that by the 1.7 million current concealed licenses issued in Florida and let everyone know the percentage and the number of people that equals (hint that number is around 7.5) .

    Then you have to calculate the actual number of shots fired and the number of hits to find the actual risk. We will use the example of the criminals actions and the highest probability of a hit, the police as our reference points.

    Per FBI UCR there were 381,000 violent crimes reported, 9,484 murders by firearms and 70,000 injuries on average by hospital databases.

    Multiple police studies show a maximum of 25% hits http://www.virginiacops.org/Articles/Shooting/Combat.htm
    http://www.theppsc.org/Staff_Views/Aveni/OIS.pdf
    shots were fired and referencing the % of injuries, this closely parallel’s multiple studies identifying between 8-15% of violent crimes, shots are fired as the facts remain, not all shooting are reported nor do everybody seek medical attention as not all shots are fatal or disabling (79,494/381,000 =20%)

    Oh yeah, one thing we forgot to do was adjust for what the criminals do. You know those who are responsible for up to 80% of violent crimes reported as per the USDOJ Gang Activity Report 2008. Of course the studies by the CHicago police in the 1990s and the NYC police in 2007 that identify 76-80% of those involved in shootings and their victims were both involved in criminal activity have no bearing on this, uh yes they do.

    Oh yeah, lets ignore another government agency report, the USDOJ National Victimization report 2008 where 4.8 million violent crimes were unreported.

    Back to the real risk. There are 7.5 concealed license carriers per year in Florida that may use a firearm in a violent crime. They will shoot that firearm a max 15% of the time which equals 1.1 people and hit their target a max of 25% of the time which means you need to be afraid of .25 people a year. Divide .25 people per the Florida population and .25 / 1.7 million equals .0000001 average people shot by a concealed license holder per year in Florida.

    Unfortunately for those naysayers, this trend is paralleled and nearly identical in ALL states with concealed carry.

    So the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) identifies that annually, the 700,000 physicians in the US make mistakes killing 98,000 per year or .14 per physician.

    Guess .14 average per year is significantly higher than .0000001 per year so where is the chicken little the sky is falling rhetoric to ban doctors eh?

  11. Jim in Houston says:

    Rob: “There are many reasons guns aren’t allowed in school zones and other areas, and I’m quite content with them.”

    And what are those reasons? If you think that one of those is public safety then you must be shocked at how those gun-free zones seem to attract multiple murderers. Such murders do not seem to happen at places where folks are armed, like gun shows, gun ranges, or police stations. On the contrary, where folks are armed (Pearl High School, Appalachia Law, etc), such sprees get nipped in the bud.

    Finally, there are a couple of states where concealed carry has been allowed on campus for years. There has not been ONE SINGLE problem with carry on those campuses. This experience mirrors that of concealed carry off campus.

    So public safety arguments are completely bogus. What are the rest of your reasons?

  12. Chuckles says:

    Big Jimbo: So all the women who carry concealed handguns are trying to assert their masculinity too? Self-defense isn’t a gender issue.

    You also need to realize that the fact that handguns are primarily made to be used against human targets does not make them an inherently bad thing. Police use handguns to stop crimes and make arrests every day. Is it wrong to shoot someone who is trying to kill you?

  13. Big Jimbo says:

    Chuckles- to quote Raymond Chandler, “everyone thinks that a gat in the hand means the world by the tail.”

  14. Michael says:

    This wouldn’t be random students carrying guns onto campus, it would be the same adults who Massachusetts already allows to carry guns everywhere else. It has already been proven time and time again students can carry guns illegally onto campus, it has happened here with drug dealers. Why not allow those with licenses to continue to defend themselves within a school zone.

    Mike

  15. Dmitriy says:

    Hey guys, comments are fine but chill out on the matter of the title mistake. Its not Ben’s fault, because more often than not the title is not written by the writer of the column. And may even go through more changes as it goes up through different editors before getting on the sheet. Maybe it was corrected at a stage when the editor is handles appearance things and is not even charged with reading the article. Who knows what could have happened, but this kind of thing happens in many professional publications also.

  16. Nick says:

    Jarhead your argument is very valid. I find it shameful when we have to wait until incidents like Columbine and Huntsville occur before we consider how our RIGHT to arm ourselves is being violated, let alone get it back. How is it that we are legally forced to be unarmed when school shootings are becoming more and more common? I just hope that we dont see another ten incidents like these before we are allowed to protect ourselves, (and everyone else) on college campuses.

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