For the most part, college is a time of creative inquiry. College is also — as anyone who has spent some time on a college campus — a time for testing boundaries, trial and error and consuming a lot of alcohol. So, how exactly does it make sense to introduce firearms into the mix?
According to the Washington Administrative code on firearms and dangerous weapons on college campuses, only persons authorized to carry firearms, such as law enforcement or an authorized user from a U.S. government agency, can carry a weapon on campus.
Washington state is in alignment with 22 other states where the decision to allow or ban concealed carry weapons is up to the individual college or university. At Western, even licensed students are not allowed to carry firearms on campus — and this should continue to be the case.
Why? Allowing anyone to walk around campus with a concealed weapon invites tragedy. We know all too well that little can be done once an armed person with the intent to kill opens fire on a crowd of scared people.
Mostly recently in August 2016, a law was passed in Texas to allow those who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon on college campuses. This hit close to home for students at the University of Texas in Austin, with the law being passed on the 50th anniversary of the UT tower shooting of 1966 in which a former marine sharpshooter shot 46 people from the university clock tower over a period of 90 minutes, killing 14.
Already, lax gun control laws and the influence of the National Rifle Association has made it too easy to access military-style firearms.
Mass shootings aren’t the only problem, incidents of gun violence on a daily basis can be the most deadly.
According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, as of 2017 there have been more than 50,000 total gun violence incidents, of which 13,195 people have died. In terms of defensive use, only 1,728 incidents have been reported. More than 1,700 incidents involved an unintentional shooting.
Sure, allowing guns on campuses could help protect against a violent act such as a mass shooting. But introducing more guns to the equation will only contribute to the number of incidents and deaths, intentional or not.
Campus-carry advocates say an armed America is a safer America, but studies have actually found that a higher number of firearm laws in a state is associated with lower rates of firearm fatalities.
It definitely should be encouraged for students to carry nonlethal self-defense measures such as pepper spray, but these measures should abide by Washington state and university policy.
Self-defense awareness and readiness at Western is a must, but allowing the presence of firearms across campus turns violent encounters deadly. Keeping guns off college campuses obviously won’t solve the problem, but it won’t continue to contribute to the problem.