Lauren Rabaino

Last week, Virginia Tech students commemorated the one-year anniversary of the deaths of 32 classmates and faculty killed in the most violent and deadly school shooting in American history. It seems that the memories of that day, and the shootings that followed on other college campuses, have stayed fresh in many of our minds. We have dealt with the trauma through adaptation into a suspicious, fearful student population. This fear inhibits our education and our success as students, and we can’t make it go away.

One group is arguing that it can remove this fear and altogether make campuses safer. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), a group of more than 25,000 students, parents, faculty and gun advocates, is sponsoring the right to bear arms while on university premises. Its logic is based on the idea that allowing students carrying rights will not prevent a shooting but will provide a necessary form of self-protection lacking at learning institutions.

Like many individuals, I completely disagree. Frighteningly, this campaign is quickly gaining momentum in several states across the country.

SCCC argues that states with the most relaxed carrying laws are the safest in the nation. Representatives mention Colorado State University as a poster child for their movement. The campus has allowed students to carry concealed firearms for 10 semesters without any violence.

However, there are so many variables that contribute to a university’s peace or level of violence that the example can’t be sound. A quality counseling program or psychological assessment center, a happy student body, efficient safety systems and a responsive university police department could change the likelihood of a violent event on a school’s campus. Of course, a school shooting can occur anywhere, and much of the time there are no preventative methods, but I do believe these factors have an impact on campus safety.

Universities seem like one of the most unsuitable places to allow the right to carry concealed weapons. The population is young, immature and emotional. Moreover, a good majority drink heavily and live in close quarters. To me, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

SCCC supporters argue that age requirements (which vary state to state), training and licensing, and the cost of guns would prevent many students from obtaining firearms, leaving the benefits of personal gun protection with only those that qualify. They believe this protection would inhibit school shooters from fully carrying out their violence by providing the ultimate form of self-defense to victims. However, personal protection through concealed carry isn’t as effective as supporters argue it is. According to a report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of the 29,596 American fatalities from gunfire in 2004, only 229 were justifiable homicides by private citizens with firearms.

More guns on campus just add fuel to the fire. Not only will their presence perpetuate the stigma of fear associated with today’s colleges, but they could potentially lead to more violence on campus. With easier access to weapons, some students could be more motivated to become violent. Additionally, although proper training is required, I have my doubts that most who obtain gun licenses understand the implications of their weapons. According to GunSafe.org, 1,100 people are victims of accidental gun fatalities every year in the United States. Of this group, the majority of deaths are people in the 15 to 24 age range, incidentally the same age group as most college students.

Since 1966, more than 170 people, mostly students and educators, have been the victims of school shootings in the United States, according to InfoPlease.com. Every year, it seems more distressed students mimick their predecessors as a method to alleviate their troubles, leading to an association of violence at learning institutions. Concealed weapons, whether for protection or assault, encourages the idea that schools are unsafe and that students must be prepared to defend themselves against violent attackers. Sadly, because we can’t anticipate these events, preparation is necessary, but not in the form of more weapons. More funding must be funneled into programs that provide counseling, emergency assistance, and power to the defending officers on campus.

Safety must be just as much as a priority on campus as education. While the right to personal security must be respected, the admittance of weapons only further decreases the level of comfort on campus.

As students, I encourage every one of us to understand our rights and protections on campus. If you are interested in learning more about the movement to give students the right to carry on campus, visit the SCCC at www.concealedcampus.org. For those who are against SCCC’s fight for personal weapon protection, visit the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence at www.bradycampaign.org.

Taylor Moore is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily current events columnist.

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