Gun debate needs more information
Universities are unique places.’
They have long served as the loci of education in the U.S., and, in the 1960s, performed the vital societal function of keeping English majors out of Vietnam.’
Even in today’s era, they act as settings where outspoken and earnest critics of the government can gather and, with support from understanding and sympathetic law enforcement, express their personal brand of patriotism by appearing in popular YouTube videos screaming ‘Don’t tase me, bro!’
Universities also serve as battlegrounds for fervent debates on ‘hot-button’ issues such as abortion, state’s rights and whether Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter has elements of a proto-feminist worldview.
One such issue that has triggered zealous debate is the issue of the Constitutional right to bear arms and whether that right should extend to college campuses.
State senator Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, has proposed a bill that will allow students and faculty possessing Concealed Handgun Licenses to carry their firearms on Texas campuses.’
Responses to the bill tend to fall into one of two camps – those advocating CHL freedom on campus or supporters of existing gun-control law.’
As if often the case with proposed legislation, there are many carefully reasoned, logical arguments made by both parties as to how the other party is completely insane and determined to ruin the country.’
For instance, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, an organization advocating concealed carry on campuses, provides on their Web site http://concealedcampus.org a list of possible arguments against Wentworth’s bill and logical counterarguments.’
The list acknowledges that many are afraid that allowance of CHL freedom on campus would lead to classrooms full of guns, which in turn could distract students from learning.’
SCCC states that in a ‘shall-issue’ state like Texas – meaning that the state ‘shall issue’ a CHL if the applicant has no prior convictions and seems like a pretty good guy – the rate of concealed carry is only about one percent. This means that a lecture class of 200 would likely have no more than two or three guns in it at a time.
Additionally, the site states that students would likely find those environments no more distracting than any other crowded area where people are armed, such as a movie theater or Beirut.
Opponents of the bill also allege that guns, even those possessed by responsible CHL holders, might fire accidentally, injuring innocent bystanders or possibly igniting a campus-wide firefight with other responsible CHL holders.’
SCCC asserts that, given the efficacy of modern safety devices, accidental discharges are unlikely. The bill could, for instance, decrease the possibility of such events by requiring trigger locks and by banning former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress from all Texas campuses.
Essentially, the argument revolves around the logical extension of individual rights. While the Constitution guarantees the individual his right to bear arms, it does not explicitly state where he can and can’t do so.’
The discussion is similar in philosophical scope to a decision made by the Supreme Court, wherein it was determined that the first amendment right to free speech does not extend to shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater if the theater is not technically on fire.
In discussions such as these, it is important for the populace to be both informed and active. Further information can be gleaned from the Texas State Senate’s website http://www.senate.state.tx.us and from organizations like SCCC.’
With the rhetorical furor regarding the issues, it is vitally important that everyone strive to find a common ideological ground and discuss the issues calmly and rationally. In the event of the bill’s passing, it is also important that no one shout ‘Fire’ in a crowded classroom, because they will likely be shot.