Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Arms Race?

I honor of my record three students writing about gun control this semester, I thought I'd post the following essay I wrote a while ago:

Shortly after the Utah State Legislature passed a law that made it legal for people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on public college campuses, I had two students who wanted to write about it.

A few weeks into his research, one of my students came to me, dismayed.

"I thought I'd turn up more data than not to support my opinion that having guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens will make us more safe," he said. "But I'm finding it's a bit of a draw." (Okay, so that last bit wasn't his exact phrasing, but I'd have laughed at the pun if he'd said it that way.)

According to his findings, sometimes people are safer if someone has a gun and sometimes people are in more danger. It can go either way, and there aren't enough instances of public shootings or attempted shootings to make a definitive claim one way or the other.

We talked about what his options could be as the data he was turning up were inconclusive. Ultimately, he proposed a thesis that stated if that is the case, we must err on the side of the Second Amendment. His position was sane and well reasoned, and, because he had learned about situations that flew in the face of his original opinion, he was not afraid to address legitimate safety concerns. While he argued that people with concealed weapons permits should be free to carry a gun on campus, he also argued that the process involved in issuing concealed weapons permits should be wisely regulated.

At the end of the semester, I had to ask him if he ever carried on campus. Turns out he did. Every single day.

Personally, I told him, I would not choose to carry a weapon like that. I would not want to live with an ever present reminder of a threat that would most likely never materialize. It would make me more fearful, less free. I think he felt empowered. I would feel imprisoned. I'd rather take my chances. 

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