School shootings have occurred in the United States for many years. With the recent shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the argument for better gun control in the country is at an all-time high. One of the suggestions being brought up is that college students should be allowed to carry weapons on campus. However, I feel that not allowing students to carry weapons on them is the best choice at this moment.
People want to feel protected, and that is fine. Nevertheless, there are other problems going on around campuses that have a bigger effect than weapons. For example, most criminal offenses that occur at UWG deal with alcohol and drugs. Firearm crimes, on the other hand, are extremely low compared to other offenses. During 2009-2011, there were only four weapon violations on campus. The campus has a zero tolerance policy with weapons. “A lot of times there will be knives, and stuff like that,” said Chief Thomas J. Mackel, Chief of Police at UWG, “It’s very rare to get weapons violations on campus.”
If students are allowed to carry weapons, that affects everybody on campus. There is a huge responsibility that comes with owning a weapon. “There are some assumptions on that, one, because you carry a gun permit, you know how to use it,” said Mackel. “Some people do, because they go out and practice, but are they trained to react that quickly?”
Students’ behavior and habits are additional reasons to take into account. Some people are instantly ready to fight if something happens to them. If an altercation happens, and somebody has a weapon, depending on that person, people could get seriously hurt. Chief Mackel suggested that problems such as student drinking on campus could impact what actions are taken place in an altercation. “The numbers of exchanges we have to deal with are, usually, large alcohol consumption and fights, poor judgments, things of that nature,” said Mackel. “Do people getting angry mean they are crazy? No, but it shows how short a temper they might have.”
Chief Mackel also believes the risk of allowing students to carry guns is, currently, not worth taking. “Those are the type of situations we normally run into on campus. Maybe we wouldn’t have a Virginia Tech, where we lost 33 people. On the other hand, we could have multiple occurrences of a person here, or a person there, getting shot. We don’t know, but we aren’t willing to take a risk on that.”
Weapon or no weapon, there is only so much a person can do during a shooting. Amid the chaos, finding safety should be everybody’s top priority. The police should be given their space to locate the shooter. In an emergency situation on campus, there are warning sirens that will go off to alert everybody. The police also send out email and text warnings to students through the Wolf Alert system. However, there is no campus lockdown. Everything would have to be locked manually, and the police think that would endanger more people. “One of the things we always run into is, can we have a lockdown? We can’t have one,” saidMackel, citing the risk for other school employees. “Our custodians and faculty members need to protect themselves just like everybody else.”
Currently, a bill that would for guns to be carried on college campuses has been filed in Georgia’s House of Representatives. As I stated before, allowing students to carry guns is not the best choice right now. Allowing students to have firearms on campus could cause other problems on a regular basis. Everybody does not react the same way to a situation. So that will not necessarily make anyone safer. In a real crisis, students and faculty should be searching for safety. For the time being, it is better to work with the laws we have, and wait to see if any safer alternatives are created out of the gun debate.