Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Guns on Campus

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For some reason, forces external to universities have been pushing the idea of allowing guns on campuses. Check out what is happening in Florida here.  I won't get into the reasoning behind the arguments. I thought I would review some reality.

There are already guns on campuses.  I remember when I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, many students had hunting rifles stashed away under their dorm beds or in the closets.  It wasn't a big deal and people looked the other way.  Oshkosh is in a relatively rural part of Wisconsin with lots of hunters.  I would imagine it is still the same way.

When I was teaching in very pro-gun Florida, it wasn't that uncommon to find out that students or professors were packing heat.  I never worried about it because the ones that I heard about through the gossip mill were responsible people and they never showed the guns to me or to others.

The gun ban on campuses is a deterrent like a marijuana ban.  We all know that marijuana is present on campuses.  So are guns.

However, I have to say that I do worry about an overt openness of guns on campuses just like I worry about an overt openness of marijuana.  Here's the thing.  Responsible gun owners already have guns on campuses and they are not really open about talking about it.  Opening up campuses to guns means that students will be encouraged by gun sellers to purchase and carry weapons.

In my experience, most college students have one big melt down during their four years due to pressures from school, family, and/or relationships.  Putting guns in the hands of these individuals who are inexperienced gun owners is not a great idea.  Just take a look at the news that is coming from some of the fraternity scandals and you can see the environment that exists in some circles on campus.  Do we want to encourage guns within such settings?

I also think it is a workplace safety issue. We have many professors around the country who are assaulted by students every year. Putting guns into the hands of inexperienced gun owners at a time when they are growing in maturity and at the same time under stress due to constant evaluation from professors seems unwise. Plus, there are a few nutty professors out there too who do battle against their colleagues in inappropriate ways.

In short, those who are promoting guns on campuses should know that guns are already present and are carried by responsible gun owners.  I don't know any professor, administrator, or professional higher education organization that thinks that opening up campuses to guns is a good idea.  I hope those that are pushing this in the state legislatures listen to reason on this issue.

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