No need for guns on campus

By Alex Rosenthal, COLUMNIST
On January 6, 2014

 

The rhetoric in the debate over gun control seems to continually bounce between staunch defenses of the right to bear arms and tragic crimes that demand national attention such as those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Columbine High School.

However the issue of carrying firearms on campus is a different matter.

Yes, everyone should have the right of carry a weapon and be able to use it in cases of self-defense.

Yes, more should be done to prevent mass shootings such as the cases of Sandy Hook in 2012 and Columbine in 1999. These incidents demand policy makers to take a second look at gun control.

However both views are irrelevant on most college campuses.

Incidences of violence are relatively few on college campuses, and though the Florida appeals court ruled that universities cannot ban the legal possession of firearms on campus in a case from a University of North Florida student last month, campuses are no place for firearms to be carried freely.

Universities are typically non-threatening environments that see violent crime only in rare occasions, and mass shootings such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 are even rarer. If students are allowed to carry firearms on campus, that environment will likely gain a tense atmosphere of fear and paranoia that is detrimental to the classroom setting and could open the door to increased violence.

According to annual safety reports from campus police departments, not a single murder has occurred at the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida or USF in the past several years. On all three campuses, robberies and aggravated assaults declined or stayed the same between 2011 and 2012, with the exception of UCF which had 20 aggravated assaults — the highest number of any of the three universities, each with populations of more than 40,000, since at least 2010.

Though it may be comforting to know you could have a firearm ready to defend yourself from violent crime, this is an extreme measure for far too rare of a circumstance on college campuses.

Many universities, including USF, offer classes to instruct students on self-defense. Adding a firearm, one meant for self-defense, to a situation may only escalate the danger involved should the attacker raise his own weapon or gain control of the other party’s.

Though the court’s ruling may be legally accurate in that the way the existing law is written, universities cannot have a higher standing than the state, this matter of public safety should be one in which wisdom, not simply legal accuracy is used.

 

Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.

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