Packing heat ain't a treat

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

November 29, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Mike Guzman, a former U.S. Marine Corps member and student at Texas State University in San Marcos, is a leading advocate for the nonpartisan group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC).

Guzman, along with thousands of other members of SCCC across the U.S., argue that students and faculty should be permitted to carry concealed firearms on university campuses. While 36 U.S. states issue permits to virtually anyone allowing them to carry concealed weapons, college and university campuses are deemed different from other public places.

Particularly in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, the SCCC is looking to change that.

With the help of Facebook, the first nationwide protest for the SCCC occurred in October. Students at TSU-San Marcos have been pushing for a student government resolution on the issue.

The issue is rapidly gaining traction among American students. Recently, individuals at more than 110 colleges and universities across the country went to class wearing empty gun holsters.

Allowing concealed weapons on campus hardly seems like a rational solution to safety. Despite the SCCC’s and many Americans’ claims to the contrary, carrying firearms is really about the ability to control situations and act aggressively.

Simply, handguns (or any non-hunting weapon) exist solely to shoot people. One’s chance of being hurt or killed is greatly increased when firearms are permitted on campus; a higher incidence of stress, drugs and alcohol at postsecondary institutions exacerbates that fact.

If everyone could carry a weapon at university, another Virginia Tech-like emergency might escalate into a wanton shootout with more innocent people needlessly wounded.

Also, an important element of the campus community is the open discussion of controversial topics in a safe setting. If firearms " concealed firearms, no less " are added to the equation, a campus ceases to be a safe place. Such a reality is problematic, even in the U.S. where the “right to bear arms,” as enshrined in the Second Amendment, is considered sacred.

It seems fairly evident to anyone who does not cling to America’s rights-based legal system that access to guns is related to the elevated violence and crime in the U.S. Violence can happen anywhere, but people should not be solving problems with firearms.

While there is still gun violence in Canada, it is a less prominent issue than for our neighbours to the south and Canadians in general seem to have a different attitude about handguns than Americans.

Therefore, it is refreshing to see Canada diverging from the U.S. on this topic. While emergency preparedness and campus security were crucial problems needing attention post-Virginia Tech, Canadian campuses realize that arming students with concealed weapons is not a reasonable answer.

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