UAF doesn’t need a ‘Second Amendment remedy’

Andrew Sheeler / Editor-in-Chief
April 19, 2011

Human beings don’t like feeling powerless. We like to imagine that we can do anything, as long as we’re ready for it. When a tragedy happens that costs the lives of dozens, hundreds or thousands of people, it’s perfectly natural for us to believe “if only.” If only pilots had been allowed to carry guns, the tragedy of Sept. 11 would have been averted. If only teachers at Columbine or students at Virginia Tech were armed, the only deaths would have been of the would-be mass murderers. It’s natural to believe that, but it’s wrong.

This rationalization is occurring across the country. Just months after a shooting rampage left six dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords hospitalized, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill that allows citizens to carry a gun while on the public sidewalks and streets of public universities. This is despite the fact that 70 percent of Arizona residents oppose such a law, according to the right-leaning pollster American Viewpoint. The state of Utah goes a step further, allowing guns inside classrooms and dormitories.

Cheering on such terrible decisions are editorials such as the one UAA’s The Northern Light printed on March 29, entitled “Americans’ right to defend not a casual privilege.” The editorial lauded the Arizona decision, but said that it wasn’t going far enough. It went on to make the fallacious argument that, “Sweeping gun legislation has not produced a society with less violence. On the contrary, it has produced a society where mass murder takes place in schools around the country where citizens are unable to defend themselves.”

Such laws and beliefs fly in the face of reason and undermine campus law-enforcement agencies across the country. These are law enforcers who actually train in the use of firearms in emergencies. According to the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), there is “no credible evidence to suggest that the presence of students carrying concealed weapons would reduce violence on college campuses” based on research performed at Johns Hopkins University.

The fact is would-be heroes are more likely to get themselves shot than they are to save anybody. Take the example of Joe Zamudio. A Slate.com article written by William Saletan called “Friendly Firearms” talked about Zamudio’s response to the Tuscon shooting this past January. When Jared Loughner opened fire on Rep. Giffords and others, Zamudio heard what was going on and decided to take action. With his gun readied, he turned a corner and saw a man holding a pistol. Zamudio yelled at the man to drop his gun, and came within split second of firing. The problem is the man with the gun wasn’t Jared Loughner but the person who had disarmed him. Zamudio didn’t fire, but later said, “So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.”

That’s the thing. It was luck. It could have easily gone much worse. Maybe the next time some citizen decides to administer vigilante justice it will go worse. Police officers and soldiers train extensively on the use of weapons. They train constantly, throughout their careers, and there are still cases where they accidentally kill innocent bystanders. The average citizen is simply not equipped to make the kind of split-second, life or death decisions we expect soldiers and cops to make in the line of duty.

Outside of the rifle team, there is simply no place for guns on our campus. Period. The students, staff and faculty of UAF do not have the expertise or experience level necessary to use a firearm accurately and responsibly in the event of an emergency. This isn’t a Second Amendment issue. Although the University of Alaska is funded by the state, it is a private entity that is allowed to restrict weapons on its premises. To paraphrase, your right to carry a gun ends where my right to a safe campus begins.

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1 Response

  1. Andrew Stefan says:

    This is an interesting article. I tend to have mixed feelings regarding the subject. The Editor brings up a good point that the average citizen does not have the experience level to use a firearm accurately in the event of an emergency. If this is the case why not provide firearm safety and educational opportunities at UAF. This is a school isn’t it? We fear things that we do not know much about. I was taught starting around the age of 5 to safely use firearms while hunting etc, and one of the first things you learn is to not fire until you have identified your target and know what is behind it. On another note, while living in Brazil for 2 years I have also seen the impact that gun bans have on the population. Many people there live in a constant state of fear because the only individuals that have firearms are criminals and the often times corrupt police officers. I believe all US citizens should be able to bear arms wherever they go. Individuals who obey the law should not be punished for the acts of criminals. Criminals will commit crimes whether there are laws in place or not. I for one would feel safer knowing that I could protect myself if the need arose.

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