The following dates and places all stand in wake of tragedy: April 20, 1999, Columbine High School; April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech; Feb. 14, 2008, Northern Illinois University. On each of these dates and campuses, a school shooting occurred that changed any parent, faculty or student associated with an institute for education. The outbreak of violence that many people associate with poor neighborhoods, or even third world countries, happened on what was generally perceived as a safe environment: a campus.
Since these horrific events have transpired, an organization has surfaced to suggest its version of a solution. The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) is an organization that is lobbying to lift the ban on concealed weapons on college campuses. At the moment, 11 college campuses, all in Utah, Colorado or Virginia, have given approval for a licensed gun owner to carry his or her firearm on campus. The SCCC is now trying to make this a nationwide movement. According to its Web site, the organization’s objective is to “push state legislators and school administrators to grant concealed handgun license holders the same rights on college campuses that those licensees currently enjoy in most other unsecured locations.”
The main reason for the push to change this legislation is to increase a student’s ability to protect and defend himself. The SCCC claims that a student has the right to carry a concealed weapon in times of danger. This may include a school shooting or other acts of violence, such as rape or assault. The group has over 35,000 members, and its membership continues to grow.
However, any student who wants to live and learn on a safe campus should consider this growth troubling, and the organization is mistaken to believe that throwing more guns at the problem is the solution to preventing gun violence on campuses. The idea of not only allowing, but also encouraging students to carry firearms on campus goes against the main ideals that a college campus strives to teach. In any institute of learning, the goal is to develop culturally aware students who have the ability to recognize and deter ignorant perspectives of the world we live in. Putting together an organization that promotes fear and violence in the name of protection is just that — ignorant.
The campus environment should be inherently safe, as each person on campus is striving toward the same goal. As students, we should strive for a better community because we understand that this will improve our education. The idea of promoting the carrying of firearms will only cultivate a culture of fear, which promotes violence and only makes incidents of school shootings more likely to happen.
The SCCC also mentions on its Web site that this legislation would prevent other acts of violence against students; the two main acts being rape and assault. However, both of these acts can be deterred with a key chain equipped with some pepper spray. These problems can also be solved by asking the campus security officers for an escort across campus at any time. The bottom line remains that the SCCC members feel the only way they can protect themselves against violence is with the use of a gun. But then how is it intelligent to suggest that everyone needs to carry a concealed weapon? The prospect of violence is around us every day of our lives and is something that we as a nation need to put a stop to. However, the promotion of fear and quickly resorting to violence is not the route to creating a safe environment.
A very important example to look at is the University of Southern California. Its surrounding neighborhood does not seem safe when compared to many other college campuses. However, the environment on campus is safe and secure. The students do not have to carry concealed weapons, nor would they want to just because they perceive a threat to their safety due to the circumstances of the surrounding neighborhood. There is always a certain amount of threat in the world. But if students at USC do not need such personal protection, it is safe to say that no other college campus does either — especially UC Irvine.
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