Should Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses?
The continued spate of school shootings indicates that more needs to be done to help protect people on campuses. While there is always a chorus of voices who proclaim that guns should be banned, the fact that the Constitution guarantees people the right to bear arms is one that has to be acknowledged. Considering that this right is important to many Americans, one solution is that teachers be allowed to carry guns so long as they pass background checks or have military training. This paper will show why guns should be permitted on college campuses, primarily for teachers who undergo thorough background checks or who have military backgrounds.
Arming teachers is not a novel idea or an unheard of one. In fact, as Shah points out, teachers are already being armed in several parts of the country in response to the escalated through of school shootings. More than 15 states permit teachers to carry guns in the classroom—a law that has been motivated by tragedies like that which occurred at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech.
In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, for instance, many gun advocates called for an end to gun-free zones on college campuses: their argument was that if anyone had been armed, the shooter Seung-Hui Cho, who killed several people that day, would have been stopped in his tracks well before the violence was permitted to escalate (Siebel). The argument against ending gun-free zones on college campuses is that more guns do not necessarily make more people safe: on the contrary they create an environment in which a sense of risk is elevated (Siebel). So which is right—those calling for more people to be armed on colleges, or those calling for fewer guns in general?
The reality is that there is a heightened sense of risk whether or not campuses are gun-free zones: everyone is aware of the possibility that today could be the day a school shooter shows up. There are simply too many people in the world with mental health issues that are not being treated—and mental health is the primary reason school shooters lash out and attack others on campuses (Breggin). One of the main triggers for purveyors of school violence is prescription drugs—specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications that individuals are prescribed by doctors whenever they suffer from a pharmaceutical industry is so powerful in America, they continue to be prescribed—and the fallout is that unstable teens continue to wreak havoc on school campuses. They are not getting the treatment they need. Instead, they are getting patches—band-aids—in the form of pharmaceuticals that have a much riskier impact on their minds in the long-run. The public is not unaware of this risk of unstable persons populating schools across America, even if they do not know of the triggers or the underlying mental health issues responsible for this crisis (Thompson et al.). At any rate, they are aware that the problem is not guns in general, as a mentally unstable person can commit acts of violence in numerous different ways. However, in a gun-free zone, it is less likely that anyone there will be able to stop him.
For that reason, it is a reasonable idea to consider arming teachers who are able to pass a thorough background check or who have military training. Teachers can be considered responsible, mature and accountable. They can be trusted to educate and lead in the classroom. Today, when schools have to do more than educate, when they have to be mindful of taking safety precautions and ensuring that students under their care are safe and secure, it is important that educators have the tools to make this happen. A plan that relies solely on the response of campus police may be insufficient as Thompson et al. have shown. These plans are often slow to be implemented and unreliable in the first few minutes of a school shooting, where the maximum amount of violence can be inflicted. To be confined in a school building where a shooter is at large without any way to defend oneself or to help defend others is a losing proposition. Such a situation is not one in which many people want to be stuck (Thompson et al.). Nor is it one in which people should be expected to feel safe. Teachers especially should be made to feel that they are in control of their environment. As leaders and heads of their classes, they also have a responsibility to their students: they have to make sure the environment they offer is safe and protected. If, however, the only means of guaranteeing safety and defense is somewhere else on campus—i.e., the campus police station—this guarantee is hard to sell and hard for others to feel. On the other hand, if a trusted and responsible teacher is permitted to carry a gun, the promise of immediate defense is more palpable. An armed teacher either who has passed a rigorous background check or who has received military training is a teacher who is in command of his or her environment and one who can mount a defense against an attack.
Arming teachers is not a unique…
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