Gun control was thrust into the spotlight earlier this month when Oregon became the second state in the nation to allow students to legally carry concealed firearms on college or university property. The passing of this law may have gone unnoticed by most students in Georgia, but it begs the question of whether this might become a trend, and most importantly, will students be more or less safe with guns than without?
A bill was postponed in Georgia earlier this year that would have allowed permit holders to carry concealed guns on any college or university property. It will be heard again in 2012. Some argue that if guns were allowed on campus, they would prevent more shootings or robberies, but the evidence from school shootings in the past does not point toward easier gun access laws as a solution.
Perhaps the most infamous school shooting yet, the Columbine tragedy, originally brought on the argument of whether or not arming students could save lives in case of an attack. According to author Dave Cullen, who wrote an account of the tragedy called “Columbine,” many students and teachers gave eyewitness accounts claiming that they had thought the two shooters had actually been playing paintball or staging a harmless prank (having only seen them from a distance), or that the two shooters were wearing black trench coats the entire time of the massacre.
If the majority of students had been armed in that tragedy, would they have shot at people who were thought to be playing a harmless prank? No, and they would not have saved any lives. If students had grown frantic and shot at anyone in a dark coat, even more lives would probably have been lost.
The Virginia Tech tragedy, in which 23-year-old student Seung-Hi Cho used an arsenal of guns to murder 32 people before committing suicide, stands as the worst school shooting in American history. He used a gun legally bought in a pawn shop, where he was not asked about his criminal or medical history, which included mental illnesses, charges of stalking and reports of violent writings and threats.
Many of the people Cho killed were in packed classrooms filled with chaos as students tried to hide or escape. If every student had been armed with a gun—trained or untrained—many more lives would possibly had been lost in the scuffle as people got in the line of fire while other people attempted to shoot Cho.
Allowing students to carry weapons on campus could have tragic consequences for everyone around them, and deciding that no safety training or protocol for the weapons is necessary for owning one could make a bad situation worse. Hopefully no more states will allow students to carry concealed weapons to protect themselves, when they will actually be putting themselves and others in horrible danger.