Double takes: campus carry

Selena McPherson / The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board

Selena McPherson / The News

FROM A SUPPORTER:

By no means should everyone, everywhere to be armed at all times. However, many students are so personally afraid and uncomfortable with guns, they don’t even want other people to have the right to carry.

Allowing concealed carry on college campuses is not a bad thing, though. Take 10 steps off campus and concealed carry laws apply, whether it’s outside your home or out by Burrito Shack (though most people at the Shack aren’t packing). Aside from the frequently cited mass shooting argument, the dangers of on-campus crimes are just as realistic as off-campus crimes and should be treated as such.

Allowing concealed carry on campus would give students the same safety they are allowed to feel 10 feet off campus or anywhere else in the world. Depriving someone the right to protect themselves because others are uncomfortable with it seems both counterproductive and unhelpful in the grand scheme of things.

People who go out of their way to get a concealed carry license (including classes, tests and background checks, which vary by state) are statistically not committing crimes with those weapons. If a criminal wishes harm on another person, they will not go through the trouble of buying licensed weapons, completing background checks and carrying their license on them. Those people will do what they want to anyway. Those people – those criminals – are out there already. You may never run into them personally, and surely they are few and far between, but the idea that allowing concealed carry invites this sort of criminal onto campus is simply wrong.

Two rules of being a criminal are as follows: don’t talk to the cops, and don’t try to rob a gun store, because they will probably fire back. The adage doesn’t end at the boundaries of a college campus.

 

FROM AN OPPONENT:

Georgia House Bill 280 has public college and university administrators under the gun as they grapple with an ominous question: should this “campus carry” bill, which would allow students with concealed carry licenses to tote their weapons on campus, pass?

Supporters of the bill and gun rights-enthusiasts argue letting students protect and defend themselves is a simple right that should thrive on campuses, too.

But this begs an unnerving question: how often do students on college campuses feel the need to use a gun as a means of self-defense? Are we to believe that a large percentage of college students are both adequately trained and emotionally prepared at all times to shoot, or at least brandish, a gun while in a compromising situation?

Furthermore, it’s troubling to think a campus full of 18-22 year olds – who are often struggling with mental/emotional instability, dealing with new and confusing social situations and engaging in passionate debates – could have guns alongside their biology textbooks at any time.

In a 2016 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health study, researchers found that having guns on campuses actually increased rates of violent crimes and sexual assault.

A student may have acquired a gun legally and in accordance with required background checks and tests, but this does not mean that student will only use the gun lawfully. A student may legally purchase alcohol, but the lawful transaction does not stop the student from doing something harmful, like driving under the influence or experiencing alcohol poisoning.

Replace guns with another weapon, like knives or swords or flame-throwers, and the idea of fighting to let students conceal these on campus sounds barbaric and theatrical. If students beg to be armed during their English class, there’s a bigger, more frightening problem to address.