Let students bear arms

By Ben Moriarty

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 [email protected]