A school shooting is one of the most terrifying events that can occur. Innocent people, many who don’t even know the shooter, are caught in the crossfire, and thousands of lives are changed forever. Preparation for such a sudden and shocking event is nearly impossible; rarely do shooters show outward signs of violent behavior or give any warning or indication of what they are about to do. In fact, it seems like the only way to stop a school shooting is for fate to intervene, and the student to be pulled over or stopped by a teacher for an unrelated reason, revealing their intentions. Lately, however, in the wake of the Arizona school shooting, a movement is gaining traction and beginning to turn some heads on the idea of gun control: by allowing guns on college campuses.
Before you panic at what seems like faulty logic, take a few seconds to examine the pros of pretty much everyone around you having a gun. First and foremost, there’s the protection aspect. If one guy brings out a gun and aims to fire at others, there’ll be more than a few gung-ho college students around him willing to play hero, and the shooter isn’t going to stand a chance. The other reason this method is effective is simple psychology: if everyone around you has a gun, you’re much less likely to use yours.
Of course, the counter-arguments are just as strong. If students are permitted to bring guns on campus, you’re going to have thousands of untrained, inexperienced young adults with killing machines at their fingertips. Every little fight, every drunken argument at a party, has the potential to turn into a death match, and there would be little campus security could do about it. Even with all of the guns licensed and checked, and even if students were required to take gun safety and firearm training classes, the potential for damage is incredible. Not to mention that if guns are on campus, one student with one gun goes mostly unnoticed by campus security, and it could be that one student with destructive intent.
While this debate is a powerful one in and of itself, it has sparked new fervor in the already endless debate for nationwide gun control. To some of us, it seems as though we shouldn’t even be debating; after all, the Second Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. To others, carrying guns in a time of peace is an unnecessary abuse of that right and leads to more harm than good. And with a mostly Democratic government, there is rising fear among conservatives that gun control will be fully enacted.
Liberals point to places like England or Japan, where murder rates are incredibly low, and gun control laws are heavily enforced. Canada almost seems like a healthy middle ground, where guns are legal but extensively registered and tracked by the government, and gun owners are required to take a number of safety courses.
The conservative backlash is that England is a police state, with such little freedom that crime would be uncommon either way. Guns are not the issue, conservatives say. The most solid argument against gun control is, in my opinion, not a completely unfounded one: if guns are made illegal, the only people who have them will be criminals. The logic here is quite sound, with Japan serving as a good example. In Japan, gun control is so heavily enforced that many police officers do not even carry guns with them, and the only private citizens holding firearms are gangsters and criminals who have obtained them illegally.
Of course, this debate can be countered by questioning what good it does a private citizen to have a firearm. How often has an ordinary person been faced with a home invader or dangerous situation, only to be able to reach for their trusty Smith & Wesson and save the day?
In the end, the argument is so cyclical that both sides could talk until they are blue in the face, and nothing would have been accomplished. To oversimplify things, we could take the debate back to that of the Founding Fathers. Which is more important to the American people as a whole: safety or freedom?
Ryan Cady is a first-year undeclared student. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.