PCP: Campus ban of weapons misguided

By Harrison Searles

Like many campuses across the country, the University of Massachusetts campus has rules that prohibit the carrying of anything deemed a “dangerous weapon.”  This is done without a set of criteria that clearly demarcates a college campus from all the other places that the 2010 Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago said were okay to keep and bear arms in.

Courtesy ednewscolorado.org
Courtesy ednewscolorado.org

What really motivate the anti-weapon rules on campus are the political motivations of its administrators, who have seen attempts to bring their own views on the control of weapons to the rest of the country fail, and use the campus as their own pocket kingdom in which they can bring whatever regime of rules to it that they want.

Preventing students from carrying weapons on campus simply constitutes an arbitrary infringement of a right that is secured and protected for by our laws. There may be places under public stewardship that ought to limit the handling of weapons (a courtroom would be a clear example), but these places ought to be few and far between.

Furthermore, there ought to be genuine concerns motivating the ban on weapons extending beyond a political statement. Such a concern cannot be found in the case of either the UMass campus or other campuses across the United States.

Having failed in seeing these policies come to national fruition, the administrators of countless universities have used their powers in order to bring their desired policies to their campuses as if they are self-enclosed monasteries. The recent decision by our University’s Faculty Senate to ban tobacco on campus is just another example of this – the bureaucrats that run the university like their own personal fiefdom thinking that they can enact whatever policies they want without any concern for the rest of American law.

A university campus is not an independent realm in which bureaucrats are free to implement whatever policy they have failed to implement on a nation scale. To the contrary, it is a part of a larger community and the rules of the university ought to be congruent with the laws of that community. This is especially true when that campus is a public institution that ought to not take any specific stance on these issues.

There is no remarkable feature that is found in a college campus that is not found in other places throughout America in which citizens are allowed to keep their weapons with them. However, there certainly is the political dimension of an atmosphere that is hostile towards the Second Amendment and which encourages administrators to implement whatever piece of social engineering they cannot convince the rest of the country to implement.

In short, guns are banned not because they pose a danger to others, as if a ban on guns has stopped those bent on murder from carrying them, but because the supposedly enlightened political environment of college campuses views the Second Amendment as a barbarous relic.

To make this worse, the ban on weapons on campus does not merely ban weapons that could actually hurt another individual, but also prevents students from having pieces of art that are in the form of “facsimiles of weapons” in their own personal quarters. This further emphasizes that it is not a concern for safety motivating the anti-weapons policy on this campus as well as many others from sea to shining sea, but instead a conscious attempt to create an atmosphere in which all weapons are seen as evil.

Indeed, the very thought that one could have a weapon or a replica of one for any other reason other than being an anti-social deviant who desires to harm one’s fellow floor-mates is not considered.  According to the Residence Hall Policies, the very ownership of something like a replica of Andúril from “The Lord of the Rings” is deemed as requiring disciplinary action.  Of course, such a replica may be blunt, as dangerous as a baseball bat, an exquisite instance of craftsmanship or a piece of art that summons to mind the strength, determination and virtue of the characters who wielded it.

According to the policies of this University, none of that matters, which illustrates how the policies were created not to secure the safety of residents, but like many other policies, to craft a culture that is deemed acceptable by Residence Life. Weapons have no place in that culture. Indeed, they are anathema to it, considered nothing more than instruments of death that need to be shunned along with those who would associate themselves with them.

There are little words in the English language to describe just how silly and curiously tyrannical this is. Weapons and pieces of art in the form of weapons, as many of those facsimiles really are, they would argue, are not as essential to the human identity as books or types of clothing. Indeed, many might even go as far as to suggest that arguing that such things can be essential to the human identity would be to romanticize the uses that weapons have. It would glorify the worst in human nature.

The problem with these arguments is that they both decide for the other person what culture is and what kind of culture they ought to be part of. It may be a small matter, but as Luke 16:10 goes: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”  Is it really romanticizing violence to keep a replica of Andúril?  Is a sword always just a sword or can a sword be a reminder of the higher ideals found in The Lord of the Rings and of Aragorn’s honor and devotion to duty?

According to Residence Life’s own description: “Residential Life offers a residential experience that supports students’ learning, personal growth, and academic achievement. We foster inclusive communities, create social and educational opportunities and provide safe and well-maintained residences.”

The banning of facsimiles of weapons is a clear contradiction of the open-mindedness that the organization alleges itself to have. The ban cannot be justified on the grounds of protecting students since such replicas are hardly more dangerous than sports equipment like hockey sticks and baseball bats. To prohibit one without prohibiting the other is an arbitrary use of authority; a judgment that came to be without principles that can be understood and criticized by others.

The policies of this University and others regarding weapons on campus is in dire need of adjustment in order to protect the rule of law and prevent the arbitrary use of authority by administrators. Under the current conditions, the owners of weapons are living under a regime of rules crafted by individuals who see their very status as weapons-owners to be evil and have to endure a system of rules that exist for no other reason than to discourage them from exercising a right protected for centuries by American law.

All of the rhetoric about inclusiveness is hence shown to be nothing but deceiving words. Once a student desires to express any vestige of martial virtue, of the willingness to say: “Threaten me or anyone else around me, I will oppose you and you will stand no chance if it comes to violence”, then he is to be disciplined and that expression suppressed. This is simply an attempt to control the culture of another person, an end that has no role in a dormitory that advertises itself as “inclusive.”

Bearers of arms need to stand up for their dignity and let this campus that is hostile to them know that they cannot simply shun weapons. They are a fundamental part of the human identity; for to ignore the times people need a weapon to ensure their life  is to cast a blind eye to the tragic occurrence of violence in that world. By doing so, one is ignoring an important aspect of the human experience and is choosing to pretend that life can simply go on if there isn’t a force of opposition against evil in the world.

Harrison Searles can be reached at [email protected]