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The dangers of permitting students to have guns on campus

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I recently blogged about legislation headed to the Oklahoma House that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on university and college campuses. Not long before that, I wrote about similar legislation coming out of Texas.

Apparently, there are more than a dozen states considering legislation that would allow professors and students to bring loaded guns into their classrooms, according to this article from CNN.

The article is written by Amitai Etzioni, a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including "Security First" and "New Common Ground."

He said there is an inherent problem with this kind of approach to guns:
The drafters of these bills seem to have an image of peaceful students, bent over their books, suddenly attacked by gunslingers who materialize from nowhere. They ignore that students can and do shoot people on campus.

He argues that there aren't (and probably won't ever be) measures to ensure that mentally unstable people don't have access to guns:

And if it were ever created, I expect the National Rifle Association and various state legislatures would strenuously oppose submitting millions of students and professors, or anyone else, to such a test before they could purchase a firearm.

And there's also the issue of allowing students, specifically, to carry weapons. I may be generalizing here, but I'm pretty sure college students tend to drink more than other age groups, and, it's my fair opinion that alcohol and guns just don't mix (although don't get me wrong, I love beer camp, I mean, deer camp just as much as the next New Englander). So, I think he has a good point, the student body is a typically volatile group of people:

Worse, long before anyone storms into a classroom, some students will use their guns -- when their anger boils over, when they have one drink too many or their girlfriend makes out with someone else -- to shoot someone.

His argument is to make guns less accessible, not more. After all, he writes: "Nobody can kill 16 people from a clock tower with a knife."

What do you think? Would allowing students to carry guns make campuses more or less safe? What about campus security? Would it be more difficult to secure a campus knowing students may be carrying weapons?

Congress gets a security review. Are more guns the answer?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When I wrote a story this week about the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a political event, one thing that stood out was how often security takes a backseat:

“If there’s any weaknesses when these things are planned, it’s often the security aspect that’s overlooked,” said James McGinty, vice president of training and safety for Covenant Security Services. “Security has to become a big part of the plan.”

Currently, members of Congress are being briefed about how to improve security measures to protect themselves. For example, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. is requesting a 10 percent increase in member budgets for security measures because "members should have the resources and the latitude to take the appropriate security measures in order to protect themselves and their staffs," according to this article in the Washington Times. Some of those increased security measures could include hiring security personnel for public events, installing surveillance cameras at district offices and improving locks and entry systems in district offices, he said.

Other Congress members have suggested taking security into their own hands and carrying firearms when they attend such public events. However, this morning I watched an interview with Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer who emphasized that lawmakers shouldn't go to such lengths and should refrain from carrying weapons.

I don't necessarily think more guns are the answer to stopping such senseless violence, however, I can't help but argue that if someone had been carrying a gun during the event in Arizona, there would likely be less bodies to bury.

Arizona shooting highlights difficulty of protecting public spaces

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01/10/2011

TUCSON, Ariz.—A shooting spree during a political event that critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, killed one of her staff members and five others and wounded 19 people, has resulted in a Congressional call for review of security measures.