Editorial: No Gun Debate at UT, Thankfully

The Minaret is glad to learn that the so-called national debate over students carrying firearms on campus does not seem to be an issue at UT.

From our security representatives to our students with weapons training to the opinion of the common student, it seems that most are in agreement that allowing students to carry weapons is a dangerous and counterproductive solution to the threat of violence on campus.

“The notion that students should carry concealed weapons in class to stop campus shootings is ludicrous. It is the job of the police to protect us from these killers,” declared a student in the newspaper at the University of Kentucky in the immediate aftermath of the tragic Northern Illinois University shootings this past February.

We should all pat ourselves on the back, since it appears that not too many students have been lured by an emotional and gung-ho response to the alarming phenomenon of violence on college campus.

It takes no advanced degree to discern that a diffusion of weapons tends to correlate with an increase in weapons-related violence. As a student points out in this week’s feature story, how might the result have differed if the students involved in the serious brawl in front of the John Sykes College of Business had been armed with guns?

After NIU, the staff editorial at the University of Utah was a reflective, nuanced and compassionate analysis of the tragedy.

“Are we that desensitized to events like these that five deaths are but a blip on the scale of what we are willing to mourn and pay tribute to? Or do we, perhaps, just want to ignore what has happened because to deal with another loss is too big a burden to handle?”

Yet shortly thereafter, their university began speaking of allowing students to carry firearms to protect themselves from possible events such as NIU.

Apparently, students are now allowed to do so.

This is the wrong approach. The right approach is two-fold: relying on our trained security forces in cases of emergency, on the one hand, and on the other hand emphasizing a compassionate community with improved counseling, mental health services, and working toward a communal sense of belonging at UT.

Perhaps the best response to the NIU tragedy was the editorial of Tufts University, which recognized that superficially attractive measures, such as the proliferation of weapons among the student body, are illusory and in fact dangerously counterproductive:

“Amid calls for increased campus safety and steps toward prevention, colleges and universities like Tufts should refrain from overreacting and installing extreme security measures. But as students, we should invest in our friends and make sure that they get help if they seem to be in trouble.”

Of course, the point can be made, as it was in San Diego State University’s newspaper, that “There is no truly effective way to forever halt school violence, or violence in general. Thinking we can end violence is just naive.” Maybe so, but these extreme cases are what a trained and prepared security force are for, which we should by all means work to enhance.

But arming our students is the wrong solution. It increases rather than decreases the risk of tragedies such as NIU and Virginia Tech. In the end, emergencies are best handled by those with professional training to deal with them.

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