Columbine redux: Guns on campus for protection?

By Francesca Prestifilippo
On the morning of April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went into Columbine High School in order to carry out their yearlong plan of wreaking havoc on their school. The teens carried duffle bags that concealed homemade propane and pipe bombs, along with guns and knives that were hidden under the trench coats that they had worn that day with intentions of taking the lives of hundreds. One teacher along with 12 students died at the hands of the shooters before they had taken their own lives. Also about two dozen others out of all of the other survivors suffered serious injuries from gunshot wounds inflicted by the shooters.

This tragedy was considered to be the deadliest school shooting in the United States up until eight years later when a student killed 32 people along with himself at Virginia Tech.

One would think that after Columbine and Virginia Tech, that the government would issue stricter laws concerning gun control in order to prevent another tragedy from occurring. Surprisingly enough, there has been a state law passed in Utah that has allowed students attending public colleges to carry a concealed weapon with them on school grounds. This law was passed in response to the Virginia Tech massacre.

Supporters of the Utah state issued law argue that the Virginia Tech tragedy might have been cut short had a teacher or a student with a gun chosen to intervene. In addition, lawmakers refer to two other incidences that were similar to Virginia Tech in order to support the law. The first incident took place in Mississippi in 1997 when a teenager shot and killed two students at Pearl High School. An assistant principal, who kept a .45-caliber pistol in his truck, chased the shooter outside and prevented him from doing any more damage. In a more recent incident following the passing of this law, there was an 18-year-old male who shot nine people at a shopping center in Utah leaving five of the nine dead. However, there was an off duty police officer at the scene who just happened to be carrying a concealed weapon (even though it was a violation of mall policy) and he ended up weakening the gunman with gunfire until reinforcements arrived. Despite that, the shooter ended up dying in a shootout with the police. Lawmakers consider this incident evidence that concealed weapons could deter further deaths.

Even though this law had been passed with the thoughts of better ensuring the safety of students and faculty on campus, there is always the chance that it could backfire. Sure, they say that people who are allowed those permits wouldn’t do anything to endanger the lives of others, but then again how can they be so sure? I mean, the shooter responsible for the Virginia Tech massacre (Cho) was issued a gun when it was clear that he was an unstable individual. And not to mention how the gunmen of the Columbine High School massacre were able to acquire firearms so easily through their accomplices.

According to statistics provided by the FBI, there were 12.7 million background checks on potential gun buyers last year in comparison to the 11.2 million in the previous year.

I think that allowing college students to carry a concealed weapon with them around campus and into their classrooms is just asking for trouble. Regardless of whether or not they have met standards set by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and have been issued a federal firearm license, there is still the risk that they could become a threat to the student body if and when they ever choose to use their firearms for purposes other than protection.

For instance, if the individual is intoxicated or under the influence of some type of illegal substance that alters their judgment and/or behavior, and they are at a college dorm, it could lead to the murder of innocent lives. Also, a person’s carelessness could cost them either their own life or someone else’s life due to their gun accidently going off. Plus, think about the impression it is going to have on children and teenagers who already see way too much violence in the media as it is.

This could in fact bring about another high school or university shooting in the future years to come. I mean wasn’t the Columbine High School massacre supposed to teach people that resorting to violence is never the answer? And that no bloodshed is worth the long term effects that continue to haunt the survivors as well as the victims’ families till this day.

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