15 November 2011

Guns on Campus

Since Purdue Student Government’s website is STILL down (at least when I try it), I will make a post along the lines of what I would have told my senators:

I urge Purdue Student Government to reject a bill that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on campus. A bill of this magnitude should only pass PSG if reasonable doubt of its benefits can be dissuaded. That doubt is still strongly there concerning the proposal.

We could argue all day as to whether or not allowing guns on campus would make people safer. To be honest, we do not know. Under certain circumstances guns do make places safer. Under other circumstances guns make places more dangerous. In a campus environment, we do not know. While statistics are presented about who commits gun crimes, where they are committed, and the presence of guns in certain environments, we do not have adequate knowledge on the university environment. We do not know how allowing guns on campus will affect the safety of our campus.

The fact that this is so strongly debated, however, shows that it would have a clear impact on the learning environment, and that impact is negative. People don’t need another cause for concern. In places where the free exchange of ideas is important, guns are restricted. Guns are not allowed in most public K-12 schools. Guns are not allowed in most universities. Guns are not allowed on the floor of the Congress. Guns are not allowed in court rooms. Reasonable restrictions on weapons are absolutely allowed constitutionally. Case law concerning the reasonable restriction of weapons is plentiful. The second amendment does not mean guns must be allowed on campus.

Guns are not guaranteed to make our campus safer. Guns will hurt the learning environment at Purdue. The second amendment does not mean guns must be allowed on campus. Yet the doubts about their presence still remain. What would the rate of gun theft be in an area such as non-official student housing? How will gun theft risk be reduced? What additional resources need to be available to handle gun theft? Remember, students often live in close confines and with a lot of people passing through their homes. What rights will certain entities have to restrict the issue of guns? What extra resources will the Purdue police need due to this policy (regardless of whether it increases or decreases the safety of students)? How much will this cost the university to implement? What safety precautions will the university be willing and able to undertake? What about the effect of the increases in weapons in a high alcohol presence environment? If you do assume guns will increase safety for those with one, what about the students who are unable to bring one due to their living arrangement or status as a foreign citizen?

Even if you support allowing concealed weapons on campus, I think this resolution hurts your case. You have to do a whole lot more than go to a gun range to convince the university that this addition will be beneficial. Due to the reasonable doubt, the case made to support concealed weapons must be flawless. If the case is not flawless, every doubt will wreck the campaign. This is a very serious issue, one issue that has a lot of people worried. This is an issue that frankly makes people worry about their safety on campus. In order to get around this, you have to be perfect, and this resolution and its case simply are not. If you do support the idea, and are unwilling to vote no, I urge you to at least table the resolution again or abstain from the vote.

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