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America’s disturbing new trend: Concealed carry on college campuses

Despite many attempts last year to alter the statewide ban, Florida is still one of 19 states to prohibit carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus. However, many believe the policy will once again be under scrutiny in the next legislative session.

Texas is about to experience the effect of lifting such a ban, as the University of Texas (UT) at Austin will officially become a “concealed carry zone” in August. A New York Times column on Monday described the disturbing transition.

In Texas, students will soon check off all the things on their back-to-school shopping lists. Backpack? Check. Pens? Check. Notebook? Check. Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shield? Check.

While some believe concealed carry on campus only allows students to protect themselves in an emergency, it would realistically cause more harm than good.

Senseless violence is sadly considered the norm in today’s society. People have to be on guard when going to the movie theater, shopping or even walking into a health clinic.

Would arming students decrease the harm a shooter with a premeditated plan could unleash on a campus? Probably. But the reality is it could also create an environment with an increase in rash, spontaneous shootings.

If a student becomes angry with another student or faculty member, he could easily discharge a round in a matter of seconds in a fit of rage. This will without a doubt alter the atmosphere of learning on every campus where concealed carry is a norm.

Under campus carry, the University of Houston’s Faculty Senate warned professors to “be careful discussing sensitive topics; drop certain topics from your curriculum; not ‘go there’ if you sense anger…”

If your university knowingly adopts a policy that forces the suppression of education, it needs to seriously re-evaluate its priorities. College is a place where students come together to express different ideas and views and learn from their peers.

The knowledge gained from the classroom and the conversations shared across campus shape students into intelligent and well-rounded adults. Creating an atmosphere where students are terrified to express their opinions and professors walk on eggshells deprives them of that growing experience.

If universities are truly concerned about the safety of their students, the answer is not to allow thousands of guns on campus. Instead, they should seek methods to better arm and train the university police so it can successfully handle threats such as active shooters on campuses.

As long as we continue to live in a world full of hatred and intolerance, people will continue to unleash harm in public places such as universities. 

The campus carry bill being adopted in Texas is “a 50th anniversary gift of sorts from Texas state legislators. For when the law comes into effect on August 1, it will be 50 years to the day since a heavily armed young man ascended the clock tower on campus and shot 45 people, killing 14 of them, in the first mass shooting at an American college,” the column stated.

Fear often causes people to resort to desperate measures. And yes, unfortunately, attending a university in 2016 comes with a dosage of fear. But lawmakers need to recognize the repercussions of their actions.

Hopefully, Florida will continue to forbid students from carrying guns into classrooms. However, with the number of states across the country yielding to this fear dogma, it will not be surprising if Florida students soon have to worry about offending a classmate and risking their life in a lecture hall.

 

Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.